MTSU graduate Dereck Stewart has started his role as the new colonel and leader of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Stewart, who previously held the rank of lieutenant colonel, was appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner David W. Purkey in April. The rise of the of 30-year veteran to the position also marks the first time an African-American has held the role of THP colonel, the agency's top leader. "It's always worth it to notice when history gets made," Haslam said during a ceremony at that time. "(Stewart) is the very first African-American to be lead this organization, but that's not why we promoted him. We promoted him because he is the best, most qualified, (and) has the right track record. We're thrilled we get to make this appointment." Stewart was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 2011 after serving in various capacities throughout the agency and has been responsible for the daily operations of the THP for the last seven years. Murfreesboro resident Tracy Trott retired May 31 after 40 years of service, including eight years as THP's leader. The governor said it had been an honor to serve with Trott, and Stewart called Trott a friend and mentor. Stewart is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, the Executive Leadership Institute, the FBI National Executive Institute and Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Davidson County with his wife and two children.