Posted at: 02/14/2014 9:10 AM
Updated at: 02/14/2014 5:11 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Albuquerque’s troubled police department is getting a new chief – a longtime top cop who is currently serving as secretary of the state Department of Public Safety, which oversees the State Police.
Gorden Eden never served in the Albuquerque Police Department, so he is not an APD “insider”. But in his many years as a State Police officer, Department of Public Safety administrator, and U.S. Marshal, he forged deep ties within APD. That means Eden is not an outsider, either. He is well known at APD and respected for a glittering resume and a squeaky clean reputation.
“I didn’t come here to retire,” Eden said at a news conference Friday. “I came here to work. I came here to give the city, the mayor, and the community everything that I’ve got.”
Mayor Richard Berry and an appointed selection committee chose Eden over two high profile top cops from Houston and Dallas.
“Gorden’s desire to serve is a calling based on his love for the city of Albuquerque,” Berry said. “I can tell you that’s one of the things that really stood out for myself and I believe for the selection committee, was passion for this city.”’
“It’s my city,” Eden said. “It’s my town. It’s where I grew up. I’ve known many of the men and women in the Albuquerque Police Department and I know that they have a servant’s heart. They are not in it for the money. They are here to serve.”
Eden’s priority will be numbers – getting the under-staffed department up to full strength, improving recruitment and retention of police officers.
“One of my first actions will be to visit with every working man and woman of the Albuquerque Police Department, including the civilians,” Eden said. “I’ll ask them what are their top three concerns and what would they like to see happen.”
It’s not all peaches and cream for the new chief. He will take over a department that is under a U.S. Department of Justice investigation for an unusually high rate of police shootings in recent years. Andrew Lipman of the Martin Luther King Foundation was one of the community activists demanding that investigation.
“We had hoped that the administration might wait until after the department of Justice finishes their investigation so that we could have a better idea of what kind of police chief we really need,” Lipman said.
“Regardless of what the report says, we’re going to build a strong team, strong leadership within the Albuquerque Police department,“ Eden said. “We’re going to take the department well beyond any findings that the Department of Justice has.”
In fact when Eden was U.S. Marshal for 8 years, he was working for the Department of Justice.
The police officers’ union issued a statement saying they hope Eden will be able to bring APD out of the “chaos and crisis” that the department is in right now.
Eden will replace acting chief Allen Banks, who is retiring at the end of February to take the chief’s job in Round Rock, Texas. Banks replaced longtime APD chief Ray Schultz, who retired last summer.