ANCHORAGE, Alaska -

Gov. Sean Parnell has named a former Alaska Wildlife Troopers head the state’s new Department of Public Safety commissioner, succeeding Joe Masters.

In a Thursday statement, Parnell’s office announced that retired Col. Gary Folger, 55, an Athabascan born in Anchorage, will be the next DPS commissioner. Masters retired from the post in mid-October.

“Colonel Folger is a dedicated, respectful leader with a broad persepctive of the Department of Public Safety operations,” Parnell said in the statement. “He has the professionalism and skill to lead the department forward as they work to serve and protect Alaskans.”

Folger joined troopers’ ranks in Fairbanks in 1981, then transferred to King Salmon in 1991. He was promoted to corporal in 1995 and sergeant in 1997, before reaching lieutenant in 1998 and transferring to Juneau and then Fairbanks to oversee local detachments with the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection. In 2007 he was promoted to colonel and placed in command of wildlife troopers, eventually retiring from the department in May.

Parnell thanked AST Director Col. Keith Mallard, who had stepped into the commissioner's post on an acting basis, for his service.

Sharon Leighow, a spokesperson for Governor Parnell, said Folger will decide on Mallard’s next position. His former position as AST director is currently being filled on an acting basis by Col. James Cockrell.

Correction: a previous version of this story reported that Mallard would return to his position as AST director. The story has been edited to show that the Folger has not yet made that decision.