Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman announced Tuesday he has selected Fort Smith Police Capt. Jamie Hammond as the next police chief for the Van Buren Police Department. 

Hammond replaces Van Buren Police Chief Kenneth Bell, a news release states, who will retire after 32 years of service with the department. Bell served the last 16 years as the police chief. 

Over the past several months, Van Buren conducted a search for a new police chief, a position appointed by the mayor. A number of applications were received, and after individual interviews with seven finalists, Hammond emerged as the top applicant. Freeman stated he is extremely pleased to name Hammond as Van Buren's new chief of police. 

"He is experienced, dedicated and has the skills to lead the department," Freeman said. "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. He takes over a highly experienced and professional department, and he will ensure that we keep Van Buren a safe place to live, work and visit." 

Hammond has worked for the Fort Smith Police Department since August 1991. Through hard work and dedication, the release states he worked his way up through the ranks, serving in every division in law enforcement and 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, and 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 said. 

Hammond was raised in Fort Smith and graduated from Northside High School. He moved to Van Buren after marrying his wife, Paige Mitchell, in 1997, and together they have two sons, who are both students in the Van Buren School District: Mitchell, 16, and Andrew, 12. Hammond has served in various volunteer positions in Van Buren and is a member of the Van Buren School District Board of Education, where he has served for the past eight years. He is also a volunteer firefighter for Butterfield District 5 Fire Department.