DENVER (CBS4) — The Colorado State Patrol has a new leader who says he is humbled by the opportunity to lead the organization and has a plan to cut down on traffic-related deaths.

Matthew Packard has worked his way up through the state patrol. He was promoted to colonel and chief and then sworn in by Gov. John Hickenlooper at the state Capitol Tuesday morning.

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(credit: CBS)

“If you’re impaired and driving a car in our state, I want you off the road,” said Packard.

He was sworn in just days after the release of Colorado Department of Transportation statistics that show the state could surpass last year’s death toll on the roads.

“A few days ago, Colorado lost its 600th life,” said Packard. “That number is not acceptable. That number is jaw-dropping. We are committed to preventing even one more loss of life.”

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Matthew Packard (credit: CBS)

Packard replaces Chief Scott Hernandez, who is retiring at the end of the year after more than 30 years with the state patrol.

During his first day on the job, Packard plans to push forward on that promise.

“Enforcement will always be a part of what we do in the Colorado State Patrol, but really what I would like us to do is be even more involved in our communities,” said Packard. “It’s convincing your neighbor, your family member, your friend that driving impaired, driving dangerously, driving distracted, is not a good option and the quality of life for us all is dependent on making good decisions.”

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(credit: CBS)

Packard has been with the patrol for 17 years. Most recently he oversaw communications, training, public outreach and media relations for the agency.

“I am committed to serve with you and for you so that together we can keep Colorado a safe place for all who visit, all who live and all who want to enjoy our beautiful weather,” said Packard.

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