Following is an article published by ABQ Reports on April 30, 2019 and written by reporter Dennis Domrzalski regarding APD Chief Michael Geier not firing APD spokesman Simon Drobik as recommended by the Civilian Police Oversight Commission.
HEADLINE: “No discipline for Simon Drobik”
April 30, 2019|
BY: Dennis Domrzalski
“Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier said … that he will not–repeat, will not–discipline APD’s human overtime Robot officer Simon Drobik for claiming massive amounts of overtime pay.”
“Geier said in a news release that he will not follow the recommendation of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency that Drobik be fired.”
“Drabik, a patrol officer, was paid $192,000 in 2019, making him the highest paid employee in all of city government.”
Here is APD’s news release on the matter:
Chief Geier Outlines Efforts To Fix Overtime Policies
Addresses CPOA findings with mix of modernized compensation accountability and public information staffing practice changes
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – APD Chief Mike Geier outlined efforts today to fix the department’s outdated overtime policies and practices. Chief Geier announced the effort as part of his response to a report by the Civilian Police Oversight Agency.
“We came into an overtime system based on a set of 2015 policies and procedures that were full of loopholes and contradictions,” Chief Geier said. “Exceptions were made over years to deal with massive understaffing. As a result, many officers used those exceptions as opportunities to earn more money.
“We are moving away from what was essentially an ‘honor system’ and forward with a plan to modernize overtime at APD and clean up the process,” Chief Geier said. “As we continue to hire more officers, the time is right to fix this problem and ensure accountability.”
In his response to the CPOA report, Chief Geier outlined several steps APD is taking, along with the development of new policies to modernize the overtime process.
Modernize the department’s Overtime, Compensatory Time and Work Shift Designation Policy.
The policy was scheduled to be updated in 2017, but work was never completed. An independent audit in 2016 made several recommendations that were not addressed.
Continue to implement changes outlined as part of APD’s budget plan for FY2020, such as:
Provide Commanders with data about overtime usage and hold them accountable for managing overtime.
Hold direct supervisors accountable for adjusting work hours when appropriate.
Develop a training plan that maximizes amount of training completed during normal duty hours and minimizes training completed on overtime.
Explore opportunities to minimize the amount of non-grant funded tact plan activities completed on overtime.
Work with Metro and District Court to limit and better manage officer court appearances.
Separate Chief’s overtime from other sources of overtime.
End the overlap between Chief’s overtime, on call time and comp time accrual.
Review recommendations from the CPOA and consider the impact on APD’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
In his response to the CPOA report, Chief Geier directly addressed an investigator’s findings related to the use of overtime by Officer Simon Drobik and a supervisor. While Chief Geier agreed with many of the findings of the CPOA about the use of overtime, he disagreed with the recommended level of discipline.
The CPOA investigator identified multiple low-level violations and multiplied sanctions for each instance. In addition, the investigator raised serious concerns about existing policies, yet still recommended outright termination for violating those policies. In fact, the relevant polices had expired under the previous administration, causing inconsistencies and widespread confusion among officers about overtime practices.
Rather than imposing discipline that is unfair and excessive, Chief Geier reiterated that he is modernizing the overtime policy to ensure fiscal accountability. Chief Geier is placing Officer Drobik on administrative assignment, requiring him to report directly to the Deputy Chief of Staff. This will enable APD administration to monitor Officer Drobik’s use of time and ensure a balance between duties related to communications and duties related to field work. Officer Drobik has offered to surrender his existing “comp bucket” to repay the department for the comp time he earned on days he worked a Chief’s Overtime assignment or for unauthorized times he ran with cadets.
APD is in the process of reviewing the PIO position to determine what additional support is needed to best effectuate the goals of the position. A plan will be developed for additional personnel within the department to take on the responsibilities held by Officer Drobik in his position as PIO.
Mayor Keller added, “The department’s commitment to revamping the overtime policy reflects that the particular personnel issue was just the tip of iceberg; their efforts should bring needed accountability to the overtime system, decentralize our PIOs to better align with community policing, and still ensure that our officers have the flexibility to provide the protection our community needs.”
Work on new overtime policies and public information staffing model is expected to be phased in over time and will be completed by the end of summer.”
It was reported that Ed Harness, the CPOA executive director, that he had not received anything from APD regarding the investigation and said:
“I would have expected that he would have informed the board prior to informing the media.”
DAN KLEIN’S TAKE
Retired and former APD Sergeant Dan Klein posted his take on the story:
“We have all heard this song and dance from APD and different mayors for the last 30 plus years. No one is ever held accountable. No criminal investigation by an outside agency. … APD has, for decades, been unable to manage their own payroll affairs and they are never held accountable. I would like to know, if the CPOA investigation is correct, who at APD was manually over riding the payroll system to allow Drobik to claim all the hours he was claiming. The payroll system knows the rules, so did the person who over rode it. That alone is cause for an investigation by New Mexico State Police. But Geier is just like Eden. He wants no outside review of his agency. Geier says he will fix it. Yeah right, Geier is the same chief of police who doesn’t know that blood in a 7 year old girls underwear might be evidence of a crime. But the CPOA and the City Auditor, they know suspicious activity even when the police chief ignores it. Reporters only have to review years of city audits of APD payroll to see that this problem has been ignored and endorsed for decades. Albuquerque we are screwed, only Tim Keller can now call for an independent criminal investigation. Or is he back in the bunker making sandwiches for the cameras for asylum seekers. Good God Mayor Tim Keller step up and do your job. Request the Attorney General or the New Mexico State Police to open a full investigation, or are you too scared about what it might expose?”
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
You have to wonder who wrote Mayor Keller’s comments because they do not sound like the former State Auditor who created a reputation to fight “waste, fraud and abuse” demanding that action be taken against individuals when it was found.
APD’s overtime have been a chronic problem over the years to the point the department’s overtime policies underwent an independent audit in 2016 but its recommendations were never implemented.
You know that a police department is being mismanaged when a public information officer (PIO) becomes the news instead of responding to the news agencies with information on criminal cases.
What is even worse is when a Police Oversight Board Agency votes to unanimously to recommend to the APD Chief that not only should the PIO be fired but also his supervisor for abuse of overtime and the APD Chief totally ignores the recommendation as does Mayor Keller.
What is downright pathetic is when the Mayor ignores the recommendations of a civilian Police oversight agency leading one to wonder why bother having one if they have no authority to overrule the Chief when the Chief goes out of his way to protect his own public information officer who is paid $192,000 in one year because of overtime abuse.
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