TOPEKA (KSNT) – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has appointed new leadership for the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP).

The Office of the Governor said in a press release that Erik Smith, the current assistant administrator and chief of the inspection division with the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), will serve as the KHP’s next superintendent. The appointment was made following a search for a replacement for the KHP’s previous superintendent, Col. Herman Jones, who retired June 9.

“I appreciate Colonel Jones’ tenure at KHP and his over 45 years of service to our state,” Gov. Kelly said. “I also welcome Erik Smith back to Kansas. I am confident he will draw upon his experience in law enforcement in Sedgwick County, in Kansas City, and at the national level to strengthen the Kansas Highway Patrol and keep Kansans safe.” 

Smith has a long history with law enforcement, according to the Office of the Governor. He served for nine years with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office starting in 1993. Over the past 20 years, he has served in various positions with the DEA, including head of the Kansas City District Office.

Smith holds a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Friends University in Wichita, according to the Office of the Governor. He originally hails from Ellsworth, Kansas.

“I am extremely grateful for Governor Kelly’s confidence and am humbled by the responsibility to carry on KHP’s storied tradition of service, courtesy, and protection,” Smith said. “I am honored to serve beside these brave men and women and am absolutely committed to leading this organization as they deliver quality law enforcement and public safety services to all Kansans.” 

The Office of the Governor said he will start off as acting superintendent on July 7 before being advanced for confirmation by the Kansas Senate. Until July 7, KHP Assistant Superintendent Lt. Col. Jason De Vore will serve as acting superintendent.

“I appreciate the Governor’s steadfast support of the Kansas Highway Patrol,” Assistant Superintendent Lt. Col. De Vore said. “I’m proud of the vital work and public safety mission the KHP carries out every day across the state, and I look forward to continuing that service to the KHP and Kansas as the acting superintendent.”