FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — For the first time in 37 years, there is a new police chief at the Minnesota State Fair.

Long-time State Fair Police Chief Art Blakey retired last year and passed away after a long battle with cancer last month.

WCCO’s Reg Chapman has more about the man tasked to fill his shoes.

”I’ve been here a long time and is just a great place to work,” Chief Paul Paulos said.

New Chief of Police Paul Paulos is no stranger to the State Fairgrounds. Paulos started working here when he was 16.

Hired by Chief Art Blakey, he thought he was going to be an officer. Instead, he was hired as an arm lifter for the train.

“Art took me when I was 21 years old as a state fair officer and then from there helped launch my career,” Paulos said.

For 25 years, Paulos served the people of St. Paul as a Sergeant. He credits his mentor for giving him a chance to protect and serve.

Now he is responsible for the safety of 2.1 million people over the course of the 12-day State Fair. He says he is proud to serve with other officers from across the state.

“We bring over 200 law enforcement officers from 71 different cities and counties. It’s a year-long process and we are constantly looking at what we can do and what we can do better,” Paulos said.

Paulos is now focused on the future, but there are things from the past he won’t give up. Like meeting and greeting folks outside the police department.

“Sitting on that bench listening to the stories of people as they stop by and it’s great and so many, it’s very tiring but you come back and you smile and it’s like I’m making my own history,” Paulos said.

Paulos says he is living his dream and he is thankful for the trailblazer who made it possible for him to do so.

“When I started out here at 21 and God I want to be just like him and here I am today, so thanks Art if you are listening,” Paulos said.

Paulos retired from the St. Paul Police Department in April. You may recognize him from the news as that department’s former public information officer.

Reg Chapman