ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – When Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden began recording YouTube videos earlier this month, something on his uniform was especially noticeable: 16 gold bars on his sleeve, representing 32 years of service.
According to APD’s standard operating procedures listed on the city’s website, those bars signify service to the Albuquerque Police Department.
Eden has been with APD for one year.
“There are people talking and the words that are thrown around now are ‘fraud’ and ‘stolen valor,’” said David Gilmore, who retired as a captain after 25 years at APD. “It’s not quite as bad as a guy wearing a military medal of honor, but he is wearing something he’s not entitled to by the SOP and he needs to remove them.”
An APD spokesperson says the department changed the rules, but would not say when that happened or what the new policy is.
On Friday, spokesperson Celina Espinoza said only, “The SOP has been changed.”
It has not been changed online.
The SOP that’s on the city’s website is the Procedural Order 2-06-20 B: “Service bars may be worn on the long sleeve navy blue shirt to signify the number of years of service an officer has completed to the department.” That rule is followed by 2-06-20 C: “Officers may not wear service bars … for which they are not entitled or qualified.”
When KRQE News 13 asked for a copy of the new policy, Espinoza replied, “You know how to file a public records request.”
KRQE News 13 sent two follow-up emails to Eden to ask him when the SOP was changed and what the new policy says. He did not respond.
Gilmore was one of several dozen applicants for the chief’s position. He says his displeasure about Eden’s uniform isn’t personal.
“I think it’s demoralizing for the younger officers and those who have been on for a long time to see someone come in and automatically claim service to the city of Albuquerque who hasn’t earned it,” he said.
A review of Eden’s resume shows he has 32 years of experience related to law enforcement. From 1975 to 1995, he worked for State Police, the Department of Public Safety, Northwestern University’s Center for Public Safety and the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. From 2002 to 2010, he was a U.S. Marshal. He then spent three years as the DPS secretary before taking the job at APD in February last year.
KRQE News 13 is still waiting to hear from Eden about when the policy was changed and what the new SOP says.