6 Kemberle Braden will be the next police chief for the city of Fayetteville. Braden, an assistant chief who has been with the department for 27 years, will replace Police Chief Gina Hawkins, who announced in July that she is retiring in January.

“I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to continue to serve the Fayetteville community, which I have called home for the past 45 years,” Braden said during a Dec. 28 news conference. “I want to thank City Manager Doug Hewett for his confidence in my ability to lead and giving me this opportunity.

“I look forward to bringing what I’ve learned throughout my career to lead the Fayetteville Police Department as many others have done before me,” Braden said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I’m ready for this responsibility.”

Hewett made the announcement during a news conference at City Hall. As the city manager, Hewett is responsible for the hire.
He was flanked by Braden and Hawkins during the news conference. Assistant Chief James Nolette, who was the other finalist for the position, was in attendance during the announcement.

“We are just a few days away from celebrating the new year,” Hewett said. “And now we can celebrate the selection of new leadership for our Fayetteville Police Department.
”... In particular, I’d like to say to the staff of the Fayetteville Police Department, ‘Thank you.’ Throughout this entire process you have been in my thoughts, and I’m very pleased to be able to make this selection and appointment today.”

The appointment follows what Hewett called “an intense search process.”

The final selection came down between the 49-year-old Braden and Nolette, the department’s 47-year-old commander of the Specialized Services Bureau. Braden has served as the Field Operations commander for the Police Department. In that role, he supervises patrol operations and investigations. He started his law enforcement career as a patrol officer assigned to the Murchison Road area. Braden is married and has two grown children.

“We are truly fortunate to have identified exceptionally qualified candidates through the search,” the city manager said, “and making an internal hire exemplifies how well we cultivate and nurture talent from within.”
Braden said he looked forward to working with Nolette and others in the community in the coming year.

"There's a lot of work ahead of us as we prepare to close out 2022 with the New Year's Eve Spectacular this Saturday,” Braden said of the second annual event set for Festival Park.

Hewett said the Fayetteville Police Department employs 605 members on a budget of more than $59 million.

“We’ll start conversations and develop strategic plans that align our departmental strengths with the needs of our community," Braden said. "There will be many conversations concerning recruitment, retention and strategies to address violent crime.”

Braden then thanked Hawkins for her leadership and service to the community for the last five years.

“For me personally,” he said, “she has provided opportunities that have allowed me to grow as an officer and an individual. And prepare me for my time to lead. I’d like to thank her and wish her well in her retirement.”

Hawkins then made a brief statement, initially congratulating her successor. She said the community should be proud.

“Chief Braden, you should be proud. Chief Braden’s family, you should be proud," she added. "You have someone who has come from the city and is about to lead this department and this community into the next chapter. And I’m very proud. We will continue to transition for the next month as I continue my retirement. We are one city that’s going to move forward with the next chief.”

Following the news conference, Hawkins called Braden “a good officer. He has experience, and he has the heart of the city embedded in him. He’s humble; he’s sincere," she replied when asked if he was a good hire.

“The department is going to be in good hands,” she said. “I pray the community supports him and the department as they have supported me.”

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