Governor Kelly Appoints Drug Enforcement Administration Chief Inspector as Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent

Assistant Superintendent Lieutenant Colonel Jason De Vore to Serve as Acting Superintendent Until July 7

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today announced that she has appointed Erik Smith, currently the Assistant Administrator and Chief of the Inspection Division within the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), to lead the Kansas Highway Patrol as its Superintendent. This appointment is the result of a national search that was conducted upon the announcement of Superintendent Colonel Herman Jones’ retirement. Today is Colonel Jones’ last day in the role.

“I appreciate Colonel Jones’ tenure at KHP and his over 45 years of service to our state,” Governor Laura 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 began his law enforcement career in 1993, serving nine years with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office. For the past 20 years, he has served in a variety of roles within the DEA, including head of the Kansas City District Office. Since becoming Chief Inspector in 2021, he has overseen the Office of Professional Responsibility, Office of Inspections, and Office of Security Programs, which together comprise DEA’s integrity system and provide support to DEA headquarters and field offices.

Smith holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Friends University in Wichita. He is a native of 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,” Erik 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.”

Smith will begin as Acting Superintendent on July 7 before being advanced for confirmation by the Kansas Senate. Until July 7, KHP Assistant Superintendent Lieutenant Colonel 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.”

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


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