TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Wednesday a replacement for the head of the state police, who is retiring.

The Republican said that Lt. Col. Patrick Callahan will succeed Col. Rick Fuentes in the department's top job.

Fuentes is retiring on Nov. 1 after leading the department since being appointed superintendent by Democratic Gov. Jim McGreevey in 2003. He has served in the department since 1978.

Fuentes helmed the state police's response to Superstorm Sandy during Christie's tenure.

"I want to thank Colonel Fuentes, who has served our state with honor and integrity, for his strong leadership through the many challenges we have faced," Christie, who is term-limited, said.

Christie is set to leave office in January. It's unclear whether either of the two top party candidates campaigning to succeed Christie would keep Callahan on as superintendent. Messages left with Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno's campaigns have not been returned.

Callahan enlisted in the state police in April 1995 and serves as deputy superintendent of operations.

He also served as recovery bureau chief after Superstorm Sandy.

"I am truly humbled and honored that Governor Christie has the trust and confidence in me to afford me this opportunity," Callahan said.

He is the son of retired state police Major Mick Callahan, who served as chief of staff for Col. Clinton Pagano.