By Dominic Garcia

DENVER (CBS4) – Get to know new Denver Police chief Paul Pazen and it’s easy to see he’s proud of his North Denver roots. CBS4 spoke to Pazen outside of his childhood home near 33rd and Elliott.

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Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen (credit: CBS)

“It has changed. It was white when we lived here,” he told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia of his old home.

Pazen graduated from Denver North High School. He’s a former marine who joined DPD in 1995. For the last 12 years he’s been working in his old neighborhood, District 1, and has been commander for the last six years.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: Denver Public Library)

“This neighborhood has changed immensely since I was a kid. We had our fair share of challenges back then, but it always had a sense of community,” said Pazen.

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He says that’s how his department will operate… with strong ties to the community. He also outlined some of his priorities as chief.

(credit: CBS)

“We’re talking about not only the prevention of crime and treating people with respect and dignity, but also the fear of crime and the drivers of some of the issues we face. That would be mental health and substance abuse. Often we’re focused on the what, now we’re going to be focused on the why,” he told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.

CBS4’s Dominic Garcia interviews Denver’s newest police chief, Paul Pazen. (credit: CBS)

Pazen said it wasn’t easy to leave his old job as commander in his old neighborhood, in fact he called it his dream job. But he says the people of North Denver are also what inspired him to take his new job.

“The mentors that have helped me, the community members that have helped me, my family that has helped me throughout my life prepared me for this.”

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Dominic Garcia anchors CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and reports for CBS4 News at 10 p.m. Connect with the Denver native on Twitter @cbs4dom & on Facebook.