Richard Fambro grew up as one of three sons of a single mother in a home a mere five blocks east of the State Highway Patrol Training Academy on 17th Avenue. But he does not recall seeing a state trooper as a kid. He admired Columbus police, walking into the department’s headquarters as a young man to apply before thinking better of potentially being called upon to police friends and acquaintances in his inner-city neighborhood. A few weeks later, someone suggested he become a trooper. Fast forward nearly three decades and Fambro soon will become the first African American to lead the State Highway Patrol since its founding in 1933. Fambro was introduced as the next superintendent of the patrol, carrying the rank of colonel, Thursday morning by Gov. Mike DeWine and Public Safety Director Thomas Stickrath. Fambro, 53, has served as an assistant superintendent and lieutenant colonel in charge of planning, finance, personnel, logistics and security services since early last April. He was criminal-patrol commander for eight years and former commander of the personnel office. Fambro joined the State Highway Patrol in 1989 and once served as its news media spokesman. He also is a former commander of the Lancaster patrol post, where he began his career as a cadet dispatcher. He will succeed Col. Paul Pride, a near-30-year-veteran who is retiring effective March 15 after leading the Patrol’s 1,600 uniformed personnel and 1,000 support personnel since mid-2013. Fambro called his elevation “hard to put in perspective. It’s a blessing to have this opportunity. It speaks to the opportunity in the patrol, an organization rich with talent, rich with leadership.” Hundreds of troopers and cadets packed the training academy Thursday to hear from the governor, Fambro and Pride. Fambro said he and Stickrath are committed to increasing diversity among the state troopers — 9.6 percent are women and 7.8 percent are black. “As always, the division wishes to be as diverse as we can. We need to look like the population we serve. Diversity is at the top of our list,” Fambro said.