Governor Deval Patrick appointed Timothy P. Alben as the new head of the State Police at a brief State House ceremony today.

“This is a very tough assignment, an important assignment,” Patrick said moments after the ceremony, which was held in his office. The governor said he has already worked with Alben on numerous occasions, on a number of emergencies statewide in recent years.

Colonel Timothy P. Alben (State Police)

Alben now holds the dual titles of superintendent and colonel as he succeeds Marian McGovern as the commander of the only statewide police force in Massachusetts. McGovern announced her resignation June 1.

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McGovern did not attend the event because, according to Patrick, she had promised graduates at the State Police academy that she would be there today, at the same place where she started her career.

Patrick said he chose Alben, a 30-year veteran of the force, because of his depth of experience, including his command of the largest unit, the uniformed division, and his drive to improve the department. He will oversee 2,300 state troopers.

Alben said his focus would be on improving the numerous crime-fighting partnerships already 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.

“I am privileged and honored, after 30 years of service, to finally take the reins,’’ Alben said after taking the oath of office with Patrick. “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, to be the best organization in the world.’’

Alben credited McGovern as one of the key mentors in his long career. “She was a mentor to me, a coach, and encouraged me,’’ he said.

Alben’s family, including his father who was once a trooper himself, attended the brief event in the governor’s office.

Before today, 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 inside the State Police, with some 1,500 troopers, according to the State Police website.

Alben is a Western Massachusetts native and has worked on organized crime cases in that part of the state.

In recent years, his responsibilities have included overseeing such events as the Fourth of July celebration on Boston’s Esplanade, the Boston Marathon, and the 2004 Democratic national convention. He also managed emergency response of State Police personnel and assets to Western Massachusetts for last year’s hurricane, tornadoes, and October snowstorm, the governor’s office said.

Alben earned $178,147 in 2011, according to a Globe search of state payroll records.

McGovern announced on June 1 that she planned to retire in July.

McGovern, a Worcester native, was appointed by Patrick as State Police superintendent — the first woman to achieve that rank with the Massachusetts State Police — in December 2009. She assumed the position shortly afterward. Today is her last day on the job.