Phil Henderson

Acting Chief Phil Henderson is among the top four candidates to fill the TPD post. 

Lt. Phil Henderson is now serving the city of Tullahoma in a new role – as Acting Chief of the Tullahoma Police Department.

According to City Administrator Jennifer Moody, Henderson was named to the position roughly three weeks ago, when city officials learned “that [he] is our only internal applicant for the chief of police position.”

Henderson succeeds Lt. Jason Ferrell in the position.

Ferrell was named interim chief in January, while an internal investigation into former Chief of Police Paul Blackwell was ongoing. When Blackwell submitted his letter of resignation in May, Ferrell remained in the post as the city prepared for “competitive recruitment” to the position. 

When the job requirements to fill the open position were posted in June, Ferrell did not apply to retain the position.

Henderson, however, did apply for the job. He was named to the interim post Monday, July 7.

“Recognizing how beneficial and insightful it has been to work directly with Lt. Jason Ferrell over the past six months, I decided to offer Lt. Henderson the opportunity to serve the remaining period as our acting chief,” Moody said. “I sincerely commend Lt. Ferrell on his outstanding service over the last six months and appreciate how well he has worked with our officers to address challenges and make improvements in the department.”

Henderson said he is excited to take on the role and is learning things about the position every day.

According to Henderson, there is much more behind-the-scenes work involved in the chief of police position than he had previously known.

“It’s a lot of learning,” he said.

As a patrolman, Henderson said he was never privy to the more administrative side of the force. Even as a lieutenant, he said, he wasn’t as aware of the extent of it.

Henderson has served the department for 32 years, Moody said, including 16 years as a patrol sergeant and two as Lieutenant over the Support Services Division.

According to Moody, Henderson will maintain the acting chief position until a new chief, named by the Tullahoma Board of Mayor and Aldermen, has been sworn in.

The city has received 73 applications for the open position from 23 states.

Moody said she hoped to schedule final interviews with top candidates for the position in early August.

If the effort goes according to timeline, a police chief may be named at the first September meeting of the city board.

Erin McCullough may be reached at emccullough@tullahomanews.com.