HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP)Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy named New York City’s top prison official Monday as the state’s next public safety commissioner and the first woman to hold the job.

Dora Schriro has been commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction since 2009 and previously served as a special adviser to former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on immigration and customs enforcement.

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Malloy, a Democrat, called Schriro “immensely qualified” for the job. Malloy said he had read about Schriro and her efforts to work with crime victims while developing “state-of-the-art processes to reduce violence and keep offenders from returning to jail.” Malloy said she has a “stellar reputation as an innovator.”

Malloy said he first interviewed Schriro years ago for corrections commissioner, and she left a lasting impression on him.

“My conversation with the doctor was one of the most fascinating interviews that I’ve ever had,” he told reporters, including WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.

“I’m very pleased to accept this position, Governor Malloy,” Schriro said just after being introduced to the press. “I can’t wait to begin.”

Schriro will succeed Reuben Bradford, who is retiring effective Feb. 1 after three years as commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, formerly known as the Department of Public Safety. While her appointment still requires legislative approval, Schriro is expected to begin overseeing the agency this month, which includes the Connecticut State Police, the state’s homeland security efforts and disaster response.

The Connecticut State Police Union, which had been at odds with Bradford, appeared pleased with Malloy’s appointment.

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“We’re looking forward to change, we’re eager for change, we’re thankful for change, and we’re excited and optimistic about success for this commissioner,” said Sgt. Andrew Matthews, the union’s president. Even though Schriro has not served as a member of law enforcement, Matthews called her background exceptional and said “her resume makes her qualified.”

In June 2012, state troopers overwhelmingly voted no confidence in the leadership of top police leaders, including Bradford. The union faulted Bradford and Col. Danny Stebbins, the state police commander, for staffing level decisions and consolidation of dispatching centers.

On Monday, Matthews said he was encouraged that Schriro said she’s willing to meet with the union to discuss its concerns. Malloy said Schriro understands his desire to modernize operations within the department but predicted she will “take a look” at the dispatching center consolidation issue.

Schriro, 63, called it a “great honor and an exceptional opportunity” to oversee the agency. She said she decided to pursue a career in public policy, with a focus on public safety, as a high school senior.

Schriro also spent six years as director of the Arizona Department of Corrections and eight years as director of the Missouri Department of Corrections. In each state, she was the first woman chosen to lead those agencies.

She earned a law degree from Saint Louis University, a doctorate of education from Columbia University, a master’s from the University of Massachusetts and a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University.

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