THP Colonel Dereck Stewart

THP Colonel Dereck Stewart

The Tennessee Highway Patrol announced the retirement of top official Colonel Dereck Stewart, and the promotion of Lieutenant Colonel Matt Perry to the department’s top position, after beginning his law enforcement career with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.

According to a THP news release, Stewart will retire on Dec. 15, after serving with THP for 33 years, including as the department’s first African American Colonel in 2018.

“Serving the Tennessee Highway Patrol as the 14th Colonel is one of the greatest honors of my career,” Stewart said in the news release. “I joined this organization, as so many others before me, in hopes of making a positive difference. I love this organization, all that it represents and stands for.”

Stewart most recently served on the International Association of Chiefs of Police Board of Directors, and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Session 230 and the FBI National Executive Institute, Session 39, and earned his bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University. 

“Colonel Stewart is the exemplar of the trooper values and has led the THP with integrity and professionalism,” Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long said in the news release. “I can assure you, there was no more prominent champion for the troopers and the brand of the THP than him.”

THP Lieutenant Colonel Matt Perry

THP Lieutenant Colonel Matt Perry

Lt. Col. Perry will be promoted to Colonel following Stewart’s retirement, as promoted by Governor Bill Lee and Commissioner Long, and as recommended by Stewart.

“I appreciate that the Commissioner and the Governor accepted my recommendation of Lieutenant Colonel Matt Perry as my replacement as Colonel,” Stewart said in the news release. “I am confident that Matt will do a great job and build upon our rich history while adapting to new challenges facing law enforcement today.”

“Lieutenant Colonel Perry has demonstrated his leadership abilities and his vast knowledge of THP,” Long added in the news release. “The future of the Tennessee Highway Patrol is bright, and I know he will carry the momentum, respect and honor of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.”

After beginning his law enforcement career as a WCSO deputy starting in 2002, Perry joined THP in 2004 where he has since served in a variety of administrative and field bureau positions.

Perry earned a bachelor’s degree and is working towards his master’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University. He is also a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command.