Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden announced his retirement, effective at the end of this month, in an email to members of the department on Saturday.
Eden will serve as chief until the new mayoral administration takes office Dec. 1., police spokeswoman Celina Espinoza said.
In the email, Eden thanked all his officers with the Albuquerque Police Department for “the great work” and said he made the decision to retire in March.
“As happy as I am to be moving on to the next chapter of my life, I can’t help but be a little sad that I won’t be seeing all of you on such a regular basis,” Eden told them. “I have enjoyed (almost) every moment here, from the funny conversations in the hallways to supporting victims and our officers at critical events.”
Eden said in the email that he will miss working with “such a committed and competent team of individuals,” including Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman, whom he called “a trustworthy and honorable person” who has dedicated over 34 years to APD and the community.
Mayor Richard Berry said in an interview Saturday that Eden notified him of his retirement several weeks ago. He called Eden a “man of integrity” who gave his “heart and soul” to the city.
“I think we’ve done reforms that are unprecedented and he’s done them in a way that is conscious of his community and his department,” Berry said. “I’ve been proud to work with him.”
Berry believes Eden is doing the right thing by announcing his retirement — “letting folks know that he’ll retire and let the new administration move forward.”
“He’s just worked himself to the point where he’s given it everything he has,” the mayor said.
Eden could not be reached for comment.
Berry appointed Eden police chief in February 2014, after the departure of Ray Schultz and interim chief Allen Banks
Eden took command at a time when APD was under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, which ultimately found that the department displayed a pattern or practice of violating people’s civil rights, specifically through the use of force. The Albuquerque Police Department is now in the midst of a yearslong reform effort based on a settlement agreement with the DOJ — reforms being overseen by an independent monitor.
Eden’s time as chief will end as a new mayoral administration takes over, and both candidates in the Nov. 14 runoff election — Democrat Tim Keller and Republican Dan Lewis — had said they would not retain Eden.
Eden, who grew up in the South Valley, worked as a New Mexico State Police patrol officer in the 1970s and also spent eight years in as the U.S. marshal for New Mexico before Gov. Susana Martinez chose him to head the state Department of Public Safety.
At the time of his appointment as Albuquerque police chief, Eden told the Journal his top three priorities were police retention and recruitment, community outreach and “making sure the leadership structure at APD is airtight.”
It proved to be a turbulent start for Eden.
About three weeks into his job, APD detective Keith Sandy and officer Dominique Perez fatally shot James Boyd at the end of a long standoff in the Sandia foothills, where Boyd had been camping illegally.
The shooting received national attention, resulting in public outrage, violent protests and murder charges for the Sandy and Perez. District Attorney Raúl Torrez chose not to pursue a retrial in the case after a trial ended in a hung jury.
Eden is leaving the department at a time the city is facing a surge in crime, seen as a major issue in the public’s eye and a mainstay topic during the race for mayor.