The Keller Administration is proposing to spend $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers.
For the first fiscal year of the four-year plan, the 2018-2019 approved budget provides for increasing funding from 1,000 sworn police to 1,040, which is not much of an increase.
Notwithstanding the existing funding for 1,000 sworn police, APD at the beginning of 2018 had only 878 sworn police.
The biggest danger in hiring retired APD officers is the danger of bringing back officers that created, contributed or did not stop the culture of aggression found by the Department of Justice and that contributed to the $62 million dollars in settlements for police use of excessive force and deadly force.
Sources have said the Keller Administration is processing 30 “lateral hires” from other agencies, which could prove to be problematic if the Keller Administration is not extremely careful.
Lateral hires could result in hiring personnel from other departments that have a history of disciplinary problems and individuals not fully trained in constitutional policing practices.
A major problem with hiring “laterals” is that in a real sense, lateral hires are who contributed to the “culture of aggression” with that very argument made in a civil lawsuit against APD that resulted in a large judgment against the city.
One cadet class in particular had an inordinate number of police officer involved shootings that were part of the original 18 deadly use of force cases that brought the Department of Justice here in the first place.
A new cadet class of 45 has been seated that will graduate in December, with the likelihood 30 candidates making it through all the training and on to graduation.
APPROVED PAY AND LONGEVITY PAY INCREASES
The Keller Administration and the APD Union negotiated and agreed to a 2-year contract.
The approved contract provides that the pay rate for officers with zero to four years of experience will go from $28 to $29 an hour.
Under the contract, officers with 4 to 14 years of experience will be paid $30 an hour.
The new contract will also raise the pay of more senior officers to between $30 to $31.50 an hour.
Officers with 15 years of more will be paid $31.50 an hour.
The rate for sergeants will go from $32 to $35 an hour, and lieutenants pay will go up from $36.70 to $40.00 an hour.
The approved longevity pay scale effective August 1, 2018 for the 2018-2019 fiscal year is as follows:
For 5 to 9 years of experience: $100 will be paid bi-weekly, or $2,600 yearly
For 10 to 14 years of experience: $150 will be paid bi-weekly, or $3,900 yearly
For 15 to 17 years of experience: $200 will be paid bi-weekly, or $5,200 yearly
For 1 to 19 years of experience: $300 will be paid bi-weekly, or $7,800 yearly
For 10 to 20 years or more: $500 will be paid bi-weekly, or $13,000 yearly
DAN KLEIN ARTICLE ON RETIRED OFFICERS RETURNING
Dan Klein is a retired APD Sergeant who has authored numerous blog articles.
With Dan Klein’s permission, following is a recent article of his:
It Makes Cents, and Dollars, For retired Cops to Return to APD
June 25, 2018
By: Dan Klein
“Since the Albuquerque Police Officers Association agreed to the large pay raise that Mayor Keller offered last month, I have had several retired officers ask me if it’s worth it for them to suspend their pension and go back to APD. With input from the good people at PERA and Shaun Willoughby, of the APOA, I have tried to crunch some numbers, dispel some rumors and provide some hard facts.
This new labor agreement is open to everyone: new cadets, current officers who wish to lateral to APD, and retired police officers. This column only discusses the financial impact of suspending their pensions to go work at APD, for retired New Mexico police officers.
The way the new contract with APD was written, APD can extend this new pay rate and longevity to any retired officer. An officer who is already New Mexico state certified is more attractive to APD (as they can bring them on board quickly). All retired officers qualify for these benefits.
The APD website shows that retired / lateral officers will be hired back at $29 hour for their first year (probation). Immediately upon being hired they will receive longevity based upon the number of years they have served as a police officer anywhere. Longevity is not based upon APD time, but upon all the years served with any department as a sworn police officer. In 2019 the longevity for a 20-year veteran officer becomes a whopping $15,600 per year.
For PERA purposes, officers get their pensions calculated on their hourly rate, longevity and specialty pay. For this column I am only going to concern myself with hour rate and longevity pay. Retired officers returning to APD in 2018 will start at $29 hour plus $500 bi-weekly in longevity. They will go to $31.50 hour and start receiving the $15,600 in longevity after they serve their one-year probation.
If a retired police officer who is receiving a pension from PERA decides to suspend his pension and join APD they will do so under Tier 1 rules. The most important of these rules is that PERA will calculate a new pension on the highest three years.
Retired officers who come back, build a new pension calculation and then retire again will have to wait seven years before they will start receiving their COLA. This is waived when the retired officer turns 65 years old. In that case the COLA begins the year after the officer turns 65.
I am basing calculations on an officer who retired after 20 years, making an hourly wage of $28 and a yearly longevity of $2,400. The reason I am using these figures is the APOA stated this is what APD officers were earning, the last few years, when Albuquerque had hundreds of officers retire.
Here are the comparisons. A current officer who retired at the $28 rate plus $2,400 in longevity, at 70% would get a pension of approximately $42,448 per year. If that retired officer started receiving COLA’s in 2018 their pension would increase to $45,947 in 2022 and $52,778 in 2029 and $57,129 in 2033.
Compare this with a retired officer who suspends his pension to join APD in 2018. I won’t count 2018 because that is the probation year and the officer will make $29 per hour. The officer will not have the $31,50 and $15,600 calculation for three years until 2022. This is 83% and the officer could retire at $67,329. Seven years later when the officer will start receiving the first COLA the difference between the officer who didn’t suspend the pension and the one who did and recalculated at 83% is approximately $14,551! The officer who suspended would increase his pension by $1,212 per month!
If the officer stayed for the maximum retirement of 90%, with no further pay raises, the pension would recalculate at $73,008. In the year 2033, when the 90% officer would start receiving a COLA, the difference would be almost $15,879! A monthly increase of $1,323!
Let me strongly point out though that this new pay level is open to ALL police officers who retired while working for a New Mexico agency. This is important because, for example, an officer retired after 20 years (70%) based upon $20 per hour, they could suspend their pension, get hired by APD and in just a few years greatly increase their pension. They would get a new pension calculation based upon 83% at $31.50 per hour plus $15,600 in longevity. This would be a huge increase.
There are a lot of issues a retired officer will need to consider before suspending retirement to build a new pension calculation. I have only looked at the financial incentive. Retired officers and their families will need to consider if physically, mentally and emotionally they are ready to come back into police work in a large metro area. We aren’t as young as we used to be, money isn’t everything.
What about the current double dippers at APD? There are about 70 APD officers that fall into this category. Suspending their pensions would mean building a new calculation. They would stay in the positions they currently hold, but would it be smart to stop double dipping to recalculate their pension? That will depend upon their current financial outlook. If they have bills based upon double dipping, then they might not be able to stop their pension check. Talking to a financial planner would be the appropriate course of action for them.
The worse thing they can do is to get advice from other officers, as many times the information is wrong and not based upon all the facts of their unique situation. Get your advice from a financial professional before you make this decision.
Hopefully, Chief Geier has directed APD Recruiting to send letters to ALL officers throughout New Mexico who have retired in the last couple years. A retired officer certification stays current for two years after retirement. Tapping into retired NMSP, BCSO, Santa Fe PD, Las Cruces PD, etc could quickly increase the number of veteran officers at APD, while continuing to hire new officers.
APD has a real opportunity to grow the department with good, seasoned police officers. APD must take advantage of this with a recruiting campaign to reach out to the hundreds of officers, statewide, who have retired in the last couple years. That campaign needs to start NOW!
If APD grows the force over 900 by the end of 2018, Geier and Keller deserve all the praise. If APD continues to languish below 900 officers, well, somebody probably needs to be fired. If I were Chief Geier I would be getting my best people on this recruiting campaign immediately. Don’t wait for these officers to come you, go out and get them! Put an ad in the PERA La Voz newsletter. Get a list of retired officers! The opportunity is now, don’t waste it.
Would I come back? The answer is no. I retired in 2003 and even though I think I am still in good shape, my eyes and ears tell me I am not as sharp as I once was. I have substantial hearing loss and I don’t think younger officers would appreciate me always asking, “What did they say?”
Officers who suspend their pensions to come to APD will start with high pay, but low seniority. That means graveyard shift and like sleeping at night. As I get older, I need all the beauty sleep I can get.
Mayor Keller and Chief Geier must use a private headhunter / PR firm to go after the hundreds of recently retired police officers in New Mexico. I would not leave this in the hands of APD Recruiting. This is not a slam on APD Recruiting, it is just being honest that professional job companies / PR firms will do a better job of finding these retirees and convincing them to join APD. APD manning is such an important issue that Keller and Geier need to toss everything at it. Do this right and APD manning issues could be a thing of the past very quickly. Do it wrong and Keller and Geier will be viewed as failures. Mayor Keller and Chief Geier, let’s do this right!
Over the last three years and since the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree, APD has had a difficult time keeping up with retirements.
APD has gone from 1,100 fully staffed APD sworn officers in December, 2009 to 878 at the beginning of June, 2018.
Things got so bad with recruiting qualified people that the previous administration sought to allow double dipping where a retired officer could retire and then immediately return to work and collect their salary and pension.
The increases in hourly wages and longevity pay are in no way a panacea for APD recruiting a new generation of police officers fully trained in constitutional policing practices.
It may make financial sense for a retired APD cop to return to work, but you cannot rebuild a “new APD” by recruiting the “old APD”.
A public relations recruitment program definitely needs to be implemented in conjunction with the city’s Human Resources Department, but an emphasis should first be placed upon hiring a new generation of police officer, not retired police nor lateral hires.
If the past 8-year history with the APD Academy is any reflection of what will happen, the APD Academy will be lucky to hire and train enough cadets just to keep up with retirements.
In order to increase APD from the current 878 sworn police to 1,040 sworn by this time next year, the APD Police Academy will need to keep up with expected retirements and will have to hire at least 162 new officers either as new recruits or as lateral hires.
I agree with Dan Klein that if APD grows the force over 900 by the end of 2018, Geier and Keller deserve kudos for a job well done.
However, if APD does not meet the budgeted goal of 1,040 officers by July 1, 2019, somebody probably needs to be fired because this will signal nothing has changed with APD recruitment practices with millions spent for recruitment to no avail and no results.