SCHENECTADY -- A Schenectady native and Linton High School graduate is now leading the state police troop that covers the Capital Region.
Robert Patnaude, a 30-year state police veteran, officially took on the role of Troop G commander last week, attaining the rank of major in the process, according to a state police announcement Wednesday.
Troop G includes 24 stations and covers 10 counties. Patnaude had been serving as acting troop commander, after taking over for Major William T. Keeler, who retired as troop commander in December.
"I'm very proud of the accomplishment," Patnaude said Wednesday of his promotion. "It's something I've always had in the back of my mind as a goal, and to be able to reach it is very fulfilling."
Patnaude is now essentially in charge of everything that happens in the troop. He intends to promote the department's core values, traffic safety and is looking "beyond the ticket." He also intends to focus on the opioid epidemic and on maintaining good working relationships with other law enforcement agencies.
Patnaude, 53, grew up in Schenectady. He is a 1982 graduate of Linton High School. He attended Schenectady County Community College for a year before entering law enforcement. Patnaude has an associate degree in criminal justice, a bachelor’s in liberal arts and is a graduate of the FBI Academy.
He worked briefly as a state correction officer before joining the state police as a trooper.
Patnaude traces his interest in the state police to his father, who worked as a truck driver.
"He always talked about his interactions with the troopers and how professional they were, so it kind of just led me in that direction," Patnaude said.
He has since risen through the ranks. He worked in road patrol, drug investigations and has overseen high-profile investigations.
He recalled working undercover in the large 1993 Schenectady-based drug sting "Operation Crackdown" that yielded more than 100 drug dealer arrests. He later led the investigation into the 2002 Breeders' Cup Off Track Betting scandal. He has also worked on multiple murder cases.
As a young trooper on the road, he recalled successes that came from remaining aware during traffic stops for any illegal activity that might be going on: what he called looking beyond the ticket.
He wants to continue to promote that as troop commander.
"It's a great opportunity to see what else is going on in the car," Patnaude said. "A lot of criminal activity occurs in the car."
Another area he wants to focus on is trooper safety and supporting his troopers, he said.
"I want them to do their job and get home safe," Patnaude said. "There's a lot that goes into that."
Patnaude now lives in Guilderland with his wife and two stepchildren. He also has two adult daughters.