Deputy Chief Danny Baker has been named interim chief of the Fort Smith Police Department while a nationwide search is conducted following the announced resignation of Chief Nathaniel Clark. Clark’s resignation is effective April 8.
Clark, the city’s first African American chief, announced March 27 he was leaving the post for another police job in the Atlanta area. Clark stepped into the Fort Smith chief police job on Jan. 7, 2017. The department now has 140 uniformed and 42 civiliian workers, according to Monday’s (April 1) statement from the city of Fort Smith announcing Baker’s interim role.
“Chiefs Clark and Baker have worked closely together over the past couple of years as Chief Clark has stood up many programs and initiatives,” City Administrator Carl Geffken said in the statement. “They are as much Danny’s projects and endeavors as they were Chief Clark’s, and we all can rest assured they will continue to grow.”
Baker, 46, is an 18 year veteran of the Fort Smith Police Department. His duties with the force have included special operations captain, narcotic unit supervisor, street crimes unit supervisor, detective, and field training officer. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2008 and captain in 2016, prior to Chief Clark’s arrival and establishment of the lieutenant position. In October 2018, Baker became the first FSPD Officer to achieve the rank of deputy chief.
“Ensuring the previous Chief’s emphasis on community policing, transparency, diversification, and accountability will be paramount,” Baker said. “I will maintain and improve upon the progress we have made. My objective is to continue serving the citizens, visitors, and workforce of Fort Smith in this new role as Interim Chief of Police,” he said. “I will maintain the Department’s momentum toward being the world-class, 21st Century police agency that our community expects and deserves.”
Baker earned an associate’s degree in sociology/psychology from Carl Albert State College in 1994. In 1996, he earned a bachelors’ degree in criminal justice with a law enforcement emphasis from Northern State University.