Jamie Hammond is “super excited” but a bit nervous as he prepares to become the next chief for the Van Buren Police Department.

Mayor Bob Freeman announced Tuesday the selection of Hammond, currently a captain for the Fort Smith Police Department where he has worked since August 1991.

Hammond will replace current chief Kenneth Bell, who will retire June 30 after 32 years with the department, the last 16 years serving as chief.

“I have all kinds of emotions going on,” Hammond said. “I am looking forward to the challenge and I am ready to get started, but I am nervous because I have never been a police chief before.”

Hammond noted he has worked with plenty of chiefs in the past and has learned some good things and “some not so good things.”

“I believe I can put these things together to make Van Buren a better place to live,” he said.

Hammond said he plans to leave the Fort Smith Police Department by mid-June.

“I would like to work with Chief Bell some,” he said. “I don’t want to leave things hanging in Fort Smith, but I would like to hit the ground running in Van Buren.”

Being a citizen of Van Buren, Hammond said he has witnessed the many positive changes the city has made.

“Van Buren has a top-notch police department which I hope to make better,” Hammond said. “I will be open to suggestions. I want to do what is best for Van Buren and its citizens.”

Replacing retiring Capt. Tony Kaman will be one of the first challenges for Hammond.

“I will have to reply on input from the people in the department and those in the know,” he said.

Over the past several months, the city has conducted a search for the new police chief, a position appointed by the mayor, and received a number of applications, Freeman said. After individual interviews with seven finalists, Hammond emerged as the top applicant.

“I am extremely pleased to name Captain Hammond as our new chief of police,” Freeman said. “He is experienced, dedicated and has the skills to lead the department. We are fortunate that Jamie already lives in Van Buren and is an active member of the community, as is evidenced by his service on the school board.”

Freeman said Hammond takes over a highly experienced and professional department.

“He will ensure that we keep Van Buren a safe place to live, work and visit,” the mayor said.

Freeman noted that through hard work and dedication, Hammond worked his way up through the ranks, serving in every division of law enforcement. He has held the rank of captain for the past six years.

“I’ve been fortunate to be able to work with many outstanding administrators during my time of service,” Hammond said. “I am excited to bring my experience to my hometown of Van Buren and equally excited about the many positive changes our city has made and will continue to make.”

Hammond was raised in Fort Smith and graduated from Northside High School before moving to Van Buren in 1997 after marrying Paige Mitchell. The Hammonds have two sons, Andrew, 12, and Mitchell, 16, both students in the Van Buren School District.

He is a member of Van Buren First Baptist Church.

Hammond has served in various volunteer positions in Van Buren and is a member of the Van Buren School District’s Board of Education where he has served for the past eight years. He also is a volunteer firefighter for the Butterfield District 5 Fire Department.