Governor Susana Martinez today announced she would name native Santa Fean Greg Fouratt as her second Department of Public Safety secretary following Gorden Eden's appointment as Albuquerque's Police Chief.
Prior to this appointment by Martinez, Fouratt served as senior litigation counsel in the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico, where he investigated and prosecuted cases of national and international scope, including capital murder and major fraud. He was a leader in the office's indictments and convictions of former State Treasurer Robert Vigil and former Senate President Pro Tem Manny Aragon.
"We couldn't have found a better person to lead the Department of Public Safety," Martinez told reporters at an afternoon conference in Albuquerque.
Fouratt says policing is one of government's core functions and he's prepared to review all of the department's policies, including policies about use of force.
"Lethal force is something that demands the attention of everyone in law enforcement," says Fouratt.
The secretary oversees New Mexico State Police, Motor Transportation Police, Special Investigations and the Law Enforcement Academy. Fouratt takes over at the same time the department has come under scrutiny after a string of high profile police shootings.
Earlier today, Eden was sworn in as the Duke City's 19th police chief. He was selected to replace interim Chief Allen Banks who became the Albuquerque's top cop last fall after long-time Police Chief Raymond Schultz retired. A few months later, on Jan. 29, Banks resigned his position at the helm of the embattled department and accepted a job as chief of police in Round Rock, Texas.
Eden, aware of the Department of Justice's investigation into the department and dozens of police officer involved shootings, says he'll focus on recruiting and adopting the best practices from different policing philosophies.
"Citizens look to us to defend their rights and freedoms," says Eden.
Tomorrow, Eden says he'll meet with about 60 officers and employees to talk about what the department can do to improve.
we all seek to improve ourselves in some way and that's what we're going to do. We're
going to keep moving forward," say Eden.
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vacancies could be both Fouratt and Eden's biggest challenge.
Eden says the recruiting pool keeps shrinking, but "we're going to be out there aggressively looking for the right people to come into public safety."
Fouratt says it is difficult to recurit men and women to become New Mexico State Police Officers because the agency ranks 10th for law enforcement pay across the state.
Staffing levels at APD have fallen below 1,000 officers, so Eden says he will review APD's budget, search for cadet candidates who meet the department's standards and consider scheduling immediate training academies.
Fouratt says he'll push lawmakers to give his department more money so they can keep up with technology and recruit new officers.
The new APD chief will have plans to improve the public's opinion on his new department.
Yesterday, after a jury acquitted double-murder defendant Ronald Santiago, Defense Attorney Joseph Riggs accused the department of having a "culture of lying."
Eden, who spent his final day at DPS in Santa Fe on Tuesday, says he's not familiar with Santiago's case, but that he's planning a top down review of the department's practices within the first 100 days at APD.
"I still do not believe that speaks to the integrity of the men and women who are out there everyday working so hard to make Albuquerque a safe place," says Eden.
During his three years as Department of Public Safety secretary, Eden designed the "Transition with Honor" program designed to fast track recruitment of war veterans with military police experience. He also instituted a program to help federal and out of state law enforcement officers become certified as law enforcement officers in New Mexico.
At the time, he accepted the APD job, Eden was developing a pay equality program across the ranks at DPS and last winter signed off on a shorter law enforcement training program. He was working on bringing the every division in DPS under one pay plan, making sure there was equality throughout the ranks. Eden has also been a leading proponent of the state's prescription drug take back program.
Nearly 150 people people attended this morning's badge-pinning ceremony, including Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston, representatives from the US Attorney's Office, FBI, Secret Service, Marshall's Office, New Mexico State Police Department, and the District Attorney's office.
Before holding the family's bible for his official swearing in, Eden's
wife Mary pinned a new gold shield on his uniform. The mayor also stepped aside to give the new
chief's children, Renee and Josh, the honor of adding four stars to each side of his shirt collar.
Eden, an Albuquerque native and third generation New Mexican, began his law enforcement career with the New Mexico State Police nearly 40 years ago, in July, 1975.
While Eden was greeting visitors inside the city council chambers, a few dozen officers, lined the street between Albuquerque City Hall and police headquarters to greet Banks a final time.
Eden will earn $158,000 a year in Albuquerque. Banks, who grew up in the city's South Valley, began his career with APD in 1992 as a patrolman, had been earning $137,000 a year at APD. He will be eligible to collect retirement from New Mexico and cash out earned vacation and sick pay. Banks will earn $140,000 in Texas.
Citing his long roots to the Duke City, Banks has said he would have stayed at APD if he'd been offered the chief's job, but Berry claimed that Banks never applied for the job. A national search firm collected applications from 44 people interested in the job.
Photo Credit: Mark Bralley