AUGUSTA — A 27-year Maine State Police veteran has won a legislative committee’s endorsement to head the force.

The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee today voted unanimously to endorse the nomination of Robert Williams of Vassalboro, a lieutenant colonel with the State Police. Today’s vote virtually locks a Senate vote for Williams’ confirmation.

Several state and police officials gave strong statements in support of Williams’ nomination before the vote. Attorney General William Schneider called him “a terrific, professional trooper.”

Williams currently serves as the deputy chief of the department. He would succeed Patrick Fleming, who is now executive director of the state’s Gambling Control Board.

Williams is a graduate of the University of Maine at Augusta and holds a master’s degree in administration from Husson University.