Dillon police honor City Market employee with Medal of Appreciation
Dillon Police Chief Mark Heminghous honored Fairplay resident Ed Eichhorn with the American Police Hall of Fame Civilian Medal of Appreciation at the town council meeting last week.
On Jan. 21, Eichhorn accepted the award in front of a crowd of friends, town staff and co-workers at the City Market in Dillon, where Eichhorn works as an asset protection specialist — working to catch shoplifters and often providing assistance to local law enforcement in other capacities. The award is given to citizens who go above and beyond in their support of law enforcement.
Community leaders said the distinction was well deserved.
“As you guys might remember, when our shoplifting cases started going up that was him,” said Heminghous while addressing the crowd at Dillon Town Hall. “I started to put a letter together, and something would happen, and Ed would do more and more. I finally had to just take a snapshot and write the nomination. … While his job is to apprehend shoplifters, which he does extremely well, Ed does so much more to support law enforcement.”
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Eichhorn was born in California, but lived oversees for much of his childhood on his father’s Navy deployments — venturing first to Naples, Italy, where he graduated high school, and later to Munich, Germany, where he studied criminology and sociology at an international University of Maryland campus.
Abroad, Eichhorn said he was inspired to follow in his father’s footsteps and joined the armed forces.
“You got a different perspective on things,” said Eichhorn, of his experience in Europe. “I was friends with a lot of military people over there, and that’s where I guess I got to the point where I wanted to join. I started thinking ‘hey, we’ve got a great country, let me do my four years.’ … Fortunately I was around a lot of Marines and people in the Navy. Talking with the Marines they said it’s one of the hardest to be in, and to go through boot camp. So I thought ‘okay, I’ll do that.’”
Eichhorn said he spent four years in the Marine Corps, including a deployment to Saudi Arabia where he served behind the lines working on aircraft during the Gulf War.
After leaving the military, Eichhorn went back to school in Maryland, where he finished his degree in justice studies from Frostburg State University. In 1999, he moved to Colorado, and began working for Kroger (the company that owns both the King Soopers and City Market grocery chains) in about 2007.
Today Eichhorn lives in Fairplay and works as the asset protection specialist for the Dillon City Market, along with five other stores ranging from Eagle to Buena Vista.
Eichhorn specializes in catching shoplifters — taking undercover strolls around the store to watch customers, and returning to the video monitors to check on suspicious behavior. Over the past five years, Eichhorn has caught more than 84 shoplifters in the Dillon store alone.
Eichhorn says there’s more to the job than catching potential thieves, including being able to distinguish between legitimate bad actors and people who made a mistake or are in need of help. Eichhorn said that while some shoplifters are held until they can be booked, others in more dire situations are given gift cards to the store and directed to community resources that could potentially help them out.
“Ed compassionately assists these people with short-term assistance and calls us so we can provide the person with means to obtain long-term assistance,” Heminghous said. “Regardless of a person’s reason for stealing, Ed always treats them professionally.”
Eichhorn also goes beyond his job description to assist police with bigger cases. According to Heminghous, Eichhorn has assisted in everything from finding missing persons to locating suspects that have come into the store who are wanted on child enticement and homicide cases outside the county.
Eichhorn said being honored with the award was a surprise, but a welcome one.
“I feel humbled,” Eichhorn said. “I know when they’ve asked me to do stuff I don’t think anything of it. I just want to help anyway I can. I’m old school — good guys and bad guys, cops and robbers. … I’m just thankful and appreciative that they thought enough of me to put me up for the award.”
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