ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – State Public Safety Secretary Gordon Eden is taking over at police chief at a tough time for the Albuquerque Police Department.
There’s the Department of Justice investigation and what the union says is an understaffed force with low morale.
But Eden has big plans to fix that and he wants to do most of it in his first 100 days.
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Eden says he’s confident in the department’s ability, but he’s basically calling for a top to bottom review of how it’s organized – what employees are concerned about, and what future officers are learning.
“Gordon’s the right man for the job at the right time,” said Mayor R.J. Berry on Friday.
With approval from the mayor, Eden now takes his nearly 40 years of law enforcement experience to the APD.
Right off the bat he released his plan for his first 100 days in office. He says change needs to start at the top:
“We have great leaders within our department and I’m going to demand that their leadership rise to the top,” Eden said.
But he’s also concerned about how many officers are patrolling the streets.
“I think the biggest deficiency right now is the numbers,” Eden said. There’s currently about 900 officers working for APD.
But Eden is not just worried about numbers. He’s also worried about the training officers get in the academy.
“Re-look at the way we recruit number one, and then number two is how do we build a structure within the training process that we have top notch people graduate,” Eden said Friday.
He wants to review all of the leadership positions in the department, and leadership is something he knows a thing or two about. He’s been the DPS secretary for four years and manned New Mexico’s U.S. Marshal Service field office.
Mayor Berry says that federal connection is valuable for the chief job with the department in the middle of a federal investigation into its use of force.
“Being familiar with and acquainted with and having those bridges built between federal state and local I think is really important,” Berry said.
Eden says he’s not waiting on the feds to make recommendations. He plans to make changes now.
“We don’t want to stay in a position where we’re doing nothing, and waiting for somebody to publish a report,” Eden said.
Eden says he plans on talking to every employee to improve morale.
“I’m going to ask them what are their top three concerns,” eden said.
It’s something police union reps say is needed.
“It’s kind of a dangerous time right now because morale is the number one,” said Shawn Willoughby, APOA vice president.
The union said they thinks Eden’s hiring is a political move. Willoughby says he wishes the city looked harder at someone from within the department.
The ACLU says it’s optimistic about Eden. They say if the Department of Justice hands down findings against APD, it’s a good opportunity for him.
“They will have the outside help to right some of the wrongs within the department and maybe get to the bottom of things that have been ailing the department for decades,” said Peter Simonson of ACLU of New Mexico.
Eden also said he plans to be a transparent chief and will do his best to get information out as soon as possible.