The new superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police pledged Friday that he will focus on improving the state’s crime lab and strengthening strategic partnerships with municipalities.
“I am privileged and honored, after 30 years of service, to finally take the reins,’’ Timothy P. Alben said after taking the oath of office administered by Governor Deval Patrick at the State House. “To each one of the men and women of the Massachusetts State Police, I pledge my 100 percent effort towards making this, and proving this, the best organization in the world.’’
Alben said his focus would be on improving the numerous crime-fighting partnerships established with larger urban areas such as Brockton and Worcester, advancing the crime lab, and overhauling the records management system to make it “state-of-the-art” in the next few years.
Alben said the governor told him Thursday, after an interview, that he had the job. The new superintendent said there may have been about 10 other candidates vying for the position. “It’s surreal; I’m pinching myself,’’ he said in a telephone interview Friday.
“This is a very tough assignment, an important assignment,” Patrick said moments after the ceremony.
The governor said he has worked with Alben on a number of emergencies statewide in recent years. Patrick said he chose Alben, who is 53, because of his depth of experience and his drive to improve the department. He will oversee 2,300 state troopers.
Before Friday, Alben held the rank of lieutenant colonel and was commander of the Field Services Division, controlling the State Police barracks and tactical operations. That division is the largest in the State Police.
Alben holds the dual titles of superintendent and colonel as he succeeds Marian McGovern as commander of the only statewide police force in Massachusetts. McGovern, the first woman to head the State Police, announced her resignation June 1. She did not attend the event because, according to Patrick, she had promised junior trooper graduates at the State Police academy that she would be there Friday, at the same place where she started her career. Alben credited her for the guidance she provided during his long career. “She was a mentor to me, a coach, and encouraged me,’’ he said.
McGovern, a Worcester native, began her career with the force as a trooper in 1979, when there were only three other female state troopers.
Alben is a native of East Longmeadow and has worked on organized crime cases in that part of the state, including helping to crack an illegal sports betting case in Berkshire County in 1999 that resulted in the forfeiture of almost $75,000, money that went to training, equipment, and investigative expenses for the district attorney’s office. Alben said he aided, but did not play a direct role in some of the higher-
profile mob cases, but his unit did focus on mob families in the western part of the state, utilizing electronic intercepts.
Alben joined the State Police in 1982 and graduated from Westfield State College, earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, in 1984. He earned two master’s degrees, in criminal justice administration from Western New England College in 2001 and in security studies from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., in 2007.
Alben helped oversee security at many high-profile events, including the Boston Marathon, Fourth of July celebrations on the Esplanade, and the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
In a New York Times article in May focusing on methods the Massachusetts State Police use to help fight gang crime in urban areas, Alben was quoted as saying, “You’re not going to arrest your way out of this problem. The problem of gangs is something you have to make the community itself responsible for.” Alben said Friday he also wants to focus on preventive measures to curb crime.
Police work has spanned several Alben generations. His father was a Massachusetts state trooper for 25 years, retiring in 1981. His grandfather was a police officer in Holyoke, and his son is considering becoming a police officer.