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News and notes from City Hall, Bernalillo County and local politics

Mayor selects Gorden Eden as new APD chief

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Gorden Eden, left, speaks to the media after Mayor Richard Berry, right, announced Eden was selected to be the new chief of the Albuquerque Police Department at a news conference Friday morning. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Gorden Eden, left, speaks to the media after Mayor Richard Berry, right, announced Eden was selected to be the new chief of the Albuquerque Police Department at a news conference Friday morning. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

 

No matter the results, Albuquerque’s next police chief will confront the aftermath of a federal investigation into the police force.

Mayor Richard Berry on Friday appointed a new chief with some experience he hopes will help.

Gorden Eden, 59, whose tenure as chief starts Feb. 27, spent eight years in federal law enforcement as the U.S. marshal for New Mexico. More recently, he has worked for Gov. Susana Martinez, heading the state Department of Public Safety, which oversees State Police.

As marshal, Eden was part of the same agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, now investigating whether Albuquerque police have a pattern or practice of violating people’s civil rights, particularly through the use of force.

The incoming chief said he is not going to wait until the DOJ returns with its findings to take action and move the department forward, opting to implement his ideas instead of “waiting for someone to publish a report.”

“We’re going to take the department well beyond any findings the DOJ has,” he said.

Eden, who also worked as a State Police patrol officer in the 1970s, said the biggest deficiency in APD right now is the number of officers, and he will work to improve recruitment and retention. The city budget has enough money for 1,100 officers, but there haven’t been that many on the force in years.

Eden said his top three priorities as chief are police retention and recruitment, community outreach and making sure the leadership structure at APD is airtight.

‘The best fit’

Berry selected Eden over two other finalists — both from Texas — who worked their way up the ranks at larger metropolitan police departments. Eden, by contrast, has spent most of his career in state and federal government, not on a city police force.

“That wasn’t the most important thing for me,” Berry told reporters on Friday. “I wanted the best fit.”

He described Eden as a “career crime-fighter” who already knows the DOJ.

“There are bridges that are already there,” the mayor said.

Eden said the federal investigation is part of what motivated him to take the city job. He believes his experience and background will help, he said.

“I didn’t come here to retire,” Eden said. “I came here to work.”

He will make $158,000 a year, an increase from his current DPS salary of a little over $116,000. Eden is the first APD outsider to be hired as chief since thenMayor Jim Baca appointed Jerry Galvin in 1998.

‘A bottom-up solution’

Local activists critical of APD said they are largely withholding judgment on the mayor’s pick until they see how he leads the department.

Mike Gomez, whose son, Alan, was killed by police in 2011, said Eden’s credentials in law enforcement are admirable, but he’s concerned about a recent spate of officer-involved shootings involving New Mexico State Police, especially one of an unarmed woman in Santa Fe in November. A grand jury in January ruled the shooting death of Jeanette Anaya as justified, and it’s unclear if the officer was disciplined.

“(Eden) knows how the upper ranks think and how they want things,” Gomez said, referring to the DOJ. “… ‘But if he lets things like (the November shooting) go, then, yes, it’s a problem.”

Eden, in the news conference, attributed the rise in shootings by State Police to what he said was a national trend involving a lack of “human dignity” toward officers and others.

“The rash of shootings that we have seen, not only with New Mexico State Police but we’re seeing with all the police departments throughout the United States, I think that is an indication of the lack of respect for each other. It’s a lack of respect for human dignity,” Eden said. “Those are things, sadly, that few of us have any control over except the person who starts that aggression.”

Jewel Hall, president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center, urged Eden to reach out to those in minority and low-income communities to counteract what she said is a reputation that APD is trigger happy, especially with residents who might be homeless, addicted to drugs and alcohol or who are Hispanic or black. She also hopes Eden will take a class in nonviolence and resolving potentially deadly situations peacefully

“I would hope that the minute he walks in he would look at the policies and procedures of the department and be inclusive,” she said. “Until they have a bottom-up solution, we will continue to have a problem.”

Since 2010, Albuquerque police have shot at 35 men, killing more than 20. Many of those men were Hispanic or black.

“In the very beginning, he has to convince the community, and especially the communities of color and low incomes, that the system is serious” and that he is holding officers accountable, Hall said.

Gomez said Eden’s political ties are another cause of concern for him, but he said that, as long as Eden is independent and committed to rooting out violent or corrupt officers, he will have the activist’s support.

“It sounds like it might work. He has been in the state awhile,” Gomez said. “But if he lets politics take him over, we’re going to be in the same old stuff.”

‘An exceptional résumé’

Stephanie Lopez, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association, said Eden “has an exceptional resume. Change is always difficult, but we will give him the opportunity to provide the leadership our department so desperately needs.”

On the other hand, she pointed out Eden’s background as political appointee of Gov. Martinez, who, like Berry, is a Republican.

“We’re a little disappointed that politics played such a big part in the selection process,” Lopez said.

The other two finalists interviewed by Berry were Thomas Lawrence, an assistant police chief in Dallas, and Craig Goralski, who spent 29 years with the Houston Police Department.

A two-member local panel, composed of Sal Barigiola, a former county undersheriff, and Terry Huertaz, a former director of the state Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter, ranked each of the three chief candidates after each was interviewed over Skype. Albuquerque Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry also ranked the candidates.

Each of the local panelists and Perry ranked Eden as their first choice, according to documents provided by the city.

After the mayor’s Friday announcement, the governor called Eden an excellent choice.

“I’ve come to know Gorden as a man of principle and conviction, and as a good husband and father,” Martinez said.

City Council President Ken Sanchez said council confirmation isn’t required for the appointment of a police chief.

“Apparently, they felt (Eden) was the most qualified for the position,” Sanchez said. “I think he understands local government being that he’s worked for the state.”

A 100-day agenda

Eden grew up in the South Valley and also worked there as a State Police officer. He held hands with his wife, Mary, before Friday’s announcement, and she stood by his side throughout.

The agenda for his first 100 days in office includes reviewing information the city has submitted to the Department of Justice and preparing a plan to carry out the DOJ findings, once they’re received.

He also listed two priorities that touch on areas under scrutiny by the DOJ and department critics — the internal affairs unit and the training academy.

Eden’s 100-day agenda includes restructuring and redefining internal affairs and strengthening “the Training Academy culture … with disciplined training standards and a commitment to public service.

 


 

10 a.m. Friday

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry this morning announced the appointment of Gorden Eden as the next chief of the Albuquerque Police Department.

Eden is now New Mexico’s cabinet secretary for public safety and a former U.S. marshal for the district of New Mexico. For the state, he leads 1,300 employees, with a yearly budget topping $140 million, according to his résumé.

APD has about 900 officers and a budget of $163 million a year.

Eden will take the helm Feb. 27 as the Albuquerque Police Department is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ is examining whether Albuquerque police have a pattern or practice of violating people’s civil rights, specifically through the use of force.

Berry said he believes Eden’s experience in federal law enforcement will be an asset as the city works with DOJ.

“There are bridges that are already there,” Berry said.

Eden, for his part, said the federal investigation is part of what motivated him to take the job. He believes he has the experience and background to help APD, he said.

“I didn’t come here to retire,” Eden said. “I came here to work.”

Eden said he will press forward with his plans to improve the department rather than “waiting for someone to publish a report”.

Eden grew up in the South Valley and also worked there as a state police officer. He held hands with his wife, Mary, before Friday’s announcement, and she stood by his side throughout.

“I grew up in this town,” Eden told reporters gathered for the announcement.

Eden said the biggest deficiency in APD right now is the number of officers, and he will work to improve recruitment and retention. The city budget has enough money for 1,100 officers, but there haven’t been that many on the force in years.

Eden’s agenda for his first 100 days includes changes at the police academy.

“The Training Academy culture will be strengthened with disciplined training standards and a commitment to public service,” according to his 100-day plan, released to the media. “From start to finish, there must be a unified process, defined acceptable learning and behavior and accountability with the academy training staff and the Field Training Officer.”

In selecting Eden, the mayor bypassed two candidates with experience at large metropolitan police departments in Texas. But Berry said Eden’s state and federal law enforcement background made him the right fit and that he will collaborate well with other agencies.

“I needed a head coach,” Berry said, describing Eden’s leadership skills.

Asked about the other candidates’ metropolitan police experience, Berry said: “That wasn’t the most important thing for me. I wanted the best fit.”

Eden said his top three priorities as chief are police retention and recruitment, community outreach and making sure the leadership structure at APD is airtight.

The mayor described Eden as a “career crime-fighter.”

Gov. Susana Martinez praised Eden as an excellent choice.

“Gorden has been a strong leader in New Mexico in our continuing efforts to keep New Mexico safe, and while his skills and expertise will be missed, I’m certain he will continue his record of leadership with the Albuquerque Police Department,” she said in a written statement.

The governor added: “From his early career as a New Mexico State Police officer, to his service as the United States Marshal, Gorden has devoted his entire adult life to service in public safety and law enforcement. As cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, his able and steady leadership has guided New Mexico’s law enforcement and public safety personnel, making New Mexico a safer place to live, work and raise a family.”

As chief, Eden will make $158,000 a year.

- This is a developing story. It will be updated with additional details.


- The following article appeared on page A1 of the Friday, February 14, 2014 edition of the Albuquerque Journal.

3 left in running for chief of APD

by Dan McKay / Journal Staff Writer

It looks like Albuquerque’s next police chief will come from outside the department.

Mayor Richard Berry and his chief administrative officer, Rob Perry, interviewed three candidates – one from New Mexico and two from Texas – on Thursday, and a final decision could come today.

The three finalists are:

  • Gorden Eden, New Mexico’s Cabinet secretary for public safety and a former U.S. marshal for the district of New Mexico. He now leads 1,300 employees, with a yearly budget topping $140 million, according to his résumé.
  • Thomas Lawrence, an assistant police chief in Dallas, where he commands a 2,200-person patrol bureau and manages a $220 million budget.
a01_jd_14feb_goralski

GORALSKI: Assistant chief at transit authority

  • Craig Goralski, assistant police chief for the Harris County Metro Transit Authority in Texas, which has a 220-person police department and a $21 million budget. He has a law degree and spent 29 years with the Houston Police Department.

Whoever wins the job will take over an Albuquerque police force under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ is examining whether Albuquerque police have a pattern or practice of violating people’s civil rights, specifically through the use of force.

Albuquerque police have fired at 35 suspects since early 2010, with 22 ending in fatalities. But in one of those cases, the suspect was killed by a State Police officer.

Albuquerque has a police force of about 900 officers and a budget of $163 million a year.

LAWRENCE: An assistant chief in Dallas

LAWRENCE: An assistant chief in Dallas

None of APD’s top executives applied. Interim Police Chief Allen Banks, the first African American to run the department, has announced that he’s leaving at the end of the month for a job near Austin.

The highest-ranking members within APD to apply were Rogelio Banez and Harold Medina, both of whom are commanders. Forty-five people applied for the job altogether. A national search firm helped recruit candidates.

Eden is the only New Mexican among the three finalists. Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, appointed him secretary for the state Department of Public Safety after her election in 2010.

Eden spent eight years before that as the U.S. marshal for New Mexico. He still holds a “top secret” security clearance, and his work as marshal included providing help on security operations for the National Nuclear Security Administration and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

He has also worked as an adjunct faculty member and researcher at the Center for Public Safety at Northwestern University, where a 10-week program is offered for top law-enforcement executives.

Lawrence, meanwhile, touts his experience as a seasoned commander with a “large, progressive major city police department” in Dallas, according to his résumé. He said he has commanded every major event in the city in recent years, including the Super Bowl and “Occupy Dallas” protests.

Goralski has a law degree and master’s degree of business administration from the University of Houston. He now oversees daily operations of the police department of the Harris County Metro Transit Authority in the Houston area.

In 2011, Goralski won a lifetime achievement award from the Houston Police Department for his 29-year career there, which included a stint as supervising attorney in the Legal Services Unit.

Goralski said his experience would make him a good fit for carrying out any recommendations from the Department of Justice.

“I was interested in Albuquerque because I believed I could help restore public confidence in the department and elevate officer morale at the same time,” he said. “Those two components are integrally related – the community needs the officers and the officers need the community. It will be up to the new chief to improve this relationship.”

Stephanie Lopez, president of the Albuquerque police union, said she hopes the mayor will pick someone who has “knowledge and practical everyday experience in managing and directing a Metropolitan Police Department that faces similar issues and problems” to APD.

A good fit, she said, would be someone who’s a sworn law-enforcement officer and can “relate to the rank and file in a department.”

APD Applicant Listing by Dan McKay


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