FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — February 1 marked Kem Braden’s first official day as Fayetteville Police Chief.
“At the end of the day at the end of my career I just want to be known as a good police officer,” Chief Braden said.
Braden moves into the role after serving at Fayetteville Police Department for 27 years. The long-time Fayetteville native was promoted to assistant chief during the summer of 2022 and promoted to chief just months later.
“I’ve seen the successes. I’ve seen what works for the department. I’ve seen what really hasn’t worked as well for the department,” the new chief said.
Braden is the first Asian decent police chief in Fayetteville. He becomes the city’s top cop, following the retirement of former Chief Gina Hawkins. She led the department for five years.
“Chief Hawkins has always for the past five years been my safety net, the person I sought advice from,” Chief Braden said.
The new chief is already working on his 30, 60 and 90-day plan for the city.
“I’m going to start that with talks communications about what needs to happen within our community. I’m going to have talks internally in our department,” he said.
Braden said he’s dedicated to getting officers as much training as possible. He’s been talking with police supervisors following the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee.
“I reiterated to our supervisors that it’s our responsibility to ensure our officers are doing the right thing and not allow them to go down that slippery slope to where they end up, we have an incident that happened in Memphis,” the chief said.
In recent years, the Fayetteville Police Department has been met with civil unrest and lawsuits, all while tackling rising violent crime and a shortage of officers. Braden said he wants to work with officers and the community on solutions to make Fayetteville a safer community for all.
“I think it’s important to be not just what Kem Braden thinks as an individual but what we collectively think as a department and what we think collectively as a community,” Braden said.
There will be an installation ceremony for Chief Braden on Friday at 4 p.m. inside Fayetteville City Council Chambers.