Following is an article published by the online news ABQ Reports on May 2, 2019 and written by reporters Dennis Domrzalski and Charles Arasim regarding New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colon announcing that his office has begun and investigation of APD Public Information Officer Simon Drobik’s overtime pay.
HEADLINE: State Auditor Investigating Human Robot Simon Drobik’s Overtime Claims
May 2, 2019
Dennis Domrzalski and Charles Arasim
– Human Robot Officer Simon Drobik made $192,973 last year, making him the highest paid city government employee.
– Drobik put in for 2,809 hours of OT in 2018. Drobik billed the taxpayers for 5,063 hours of work in 2018.
The New Mexico State Auditor’s office has launched an investigation into the massive overtime pay claims by the Albuquerque Police Department’s human robot, PIO Simon Drobik.
Auditor’s office spokesperson Stephanie Telles confirmed the investigation Thursday in a phone call with the ABQReport.
“The office is conducting an examination of the matter,” Telles said. She added that because the probe is ongoing, she couldn’t discuss any details of it, including exactly what the Auditor’s Office is looking at or when the investigation began.
The probe could mean trouble for Drobik, who made $192,000 in 2018, and for APD Chief Mike Geier. Earlier this week Geier refused to even discipline Drobik for apparently violating department rules at least 51 times in claiming 2,809 hours of OT last year. And Geier totally rejected a recommendation by the Civilian Police Oversight Agency that Drobik be fired for violating APD rules.
DROBIK NOT THE ONLY ONE; THERE ARE 123 MORE
On Friday, April 12, 2019, it was reported that the APD Civilian Police Oversight (CPO) Agency recommended the dismissal of APD Master Police Officer 1st Class and Public Information Officer Simon Drobik as well as his former supervisor for overtime pay abuse.
The CPO Agency investigation found that in 2018, Drobik was paid $192,973 making him Albuquerque’s highest-paid employee in 2018. The investigation also found that his supervisor was one of the city’s top 11 paid wage earners. The investigation found that throughout 2018 Drobik violated overtime and pay policies more than 50 times by getting paid simultaneously for being on call as a spokesman for APD and working “chief’s overtime” and paid time and a half stationed at local businesses.
April 30, 2019, APD Chief Michael Geier announced that he was not taking any disciplinary action against Simon Drobik but announced changes were being made to APD overtime and Chief’s overtime.
The recent CPO Investigation found that in reviewing Chief’s Overtime slips, the names of many of the top earners in APD were on the same Chief’s Overtime assignments that Master Police Officer 1st Class and APD Spokesman Simon Drobik was on.
At the end of each calendar year, City Hall releases the top 250 wage earners at city hall. The list of 250 top city hall wages earners is what is paid for the full calendar year of January 1 to December 31 of any given year. The listing of the city’s 250 top wage earners for the calendar year 2018 includes 124 APD sworn police as the top wage city hall wage earners, earning more than most department directors as well as the APD Chief and all of his Deputy Chiefs. The list of 124 include patrol officers first class, sergeants, lieutenants, commanders the deputy chiefs, and the chief with annual pay for the year 2018 ranging from $101,000 a year up to $192,937 all under the Keller Administration.
Base yearly pay for sworn police, depending upon rank and years of experience, is $60,320 to $83,200.The base pay does not include longevity bonus pay at the end of a year of between $2,600 to $15,600 contingent on years of experience.
Following is a breakdown of the numbers of police officers paid in excess of $100,000 in calendar year 2018 as a result of overtime paid:
6 police officers were paid $151,313 TO $192,000
24 police officers were paid $126,162.80 to $144,510.44.
27 police officers were paid $113,498.98 to $125,088.48
22 police officers were paid $109,315.89 to $112,516.27
25 police officers were paid $105,076.20 to $108,946.45
21 police officers were paid $101,633.11 to $104,987.69
The salaries Mayor Keller is paying his top APD command staff are significantly less than many Police Officers 1st Class, Sergeants and Lieutenants and are as follows:
Geier, Michael PD-Police Chief of Police, $159,513.60
(Former APD Chief Gordon Eden was paid $166,699)
Garcia, Eric JPD-Police PDP Deputy Chief, $134,249.53
Gonzalez, Arturo EPD-Police PDP Deputy Chief, $126,199.92
Banez, Rogelio NPD-Police PDP Deputy Chief, $123,856.00
Medina, Harold PD-Police PDP Deputy Chief, $123,856.00
TOTAL RANGE PAID CHIEF COMMAND: $123,856.00 to $159,513.60.
The names and salaries paid to other sworn police other than the APD Chief Command staff include:
PAY RANGE $151,313 TO $192,000
Drobik, Simon – Master Police Officer 1st Class $192,937.23.
Johnson, Brian APD- Senior Police Officer 1st Class: $166,692.01.
Garza, Ramiro JPD- Senior Police Officer 1st Class: $163,223.63.
Hollier, Jeremy BPD-Police, PE1, Senior Police Officer 1st Class: $160,692.06.
Canales, LadioPD-Police, Senior Police Officer 1st Class: $152,876.94.
Redhouse, Leighton – Senior Police Officer 1st Class: $151,313.71.
PAY RANGE $126,162.80 TO $144,510.44.
Bassett, Jeremy, Police Lieutenant, $144,510.44.
Martinez, Yvonne, Master Police Officer 1st Class, $144,421.25.
McCumber, Wayne – Master Police Officer 1st Class $142,033.83.
Correia, Donald RPD- Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $140,755.81.
Maes, Kelly RPD- Senior Police Officer 1st C1ass, $138,318.85.
McElroy, Matthew PD-Police Sergeant, $138,158.09.
Lehocky, Andrew , Master Police Officer 1st Class $137,449.07.
Languit, Luke CPD-Police Lieutenant, $134,328.74.
Price, Bryan HPD-Police Sergeant, $133,880.63.
Mc Carson, Timothy, Senior Police Officer 1st Class $132,742.86.
Rico, Michael KPD-Police Senior Police Officer 1st Class $132,740.13.
Kenny, Sean PPD-Police Sergeant $132,604.80.
Parsons, Scott – Police Lieutenant, $131,519.64.
Frick, Sean, APD Lieutenant, $131,375.48.
Pearson, Nicholas, Master Police Officer 1st Class, $130,077.97.
Hernandez, Francisco Senior Police Officer 1st Class, $128,887.30.
Burchell, Edward – Master Police Officer 1st Class, $127,987.25.
Stockton, Robert MPD-Police Sergeant, $127,612.72.
Patterson, Christopher APD-Police Sergeant, $127,557.19.
Hernandez, Michael FPD-Police Sergeant $127,456.76.
Arnold, Jerry, Police Officer 1st Class $127,409.90.
Martinez, Vicente, Senior Police Officer 1st Class $126,798.71.
Breeden, Charles, Senior Police Officer 1st Class $126,300.45.
Wetterlund, Christopher, Senior Police Officer 1st Class $126,162.80.
PAY RANGE $113,498.98 TO $125,088.48
Economidy III, Byron, Senior Police Officer 1st Class $125,088.48.
Schmidt, Matthew -Police Sergeant $124,581.73.
Sandoval, Albert, PD-Police Sergeant $124,555.16.
The six figure salaries being paid to sworn police are directly attributed to “overtime” worked by those sworn police officers.
CITIZENS POLICE OVERSIGHT AGENCY AND BOARD RECOMMENDATIONS
The April 12, 2019 Police Oversight Agency (CPO) investigative report made two major recommendations to deal with the problem of excessive overtime pay.
Following are the two-recommendation made by the CPO Agency:
1.“The City of Albuquerque should ask for another Audit of APD Overtime which will include and audit of the Chief’s Overtime Program. The audit should explore the actual cost to the City of the Chief’s Overtime program versus what the Chief’s overtime program brings in. The audit should cover how many officers take time off from their regularly scheduled duty to go work a Chief’s overtime during those same hours. The audit should also explore whether or not another officer had to be called in on overtime to handle the off-duty officer’s duties on that shift on that day because the staffing level was below the 70% threshold. Lastly, the audit should determine whether or not the Chief’s Overtime Program violates the Anti-Donation Clause of the State of New Mexico.” (April 12, 2019 Police Oversight Investigation report, page 10.)
2. “APD should immediately revise its policy on overtime. Officers should be limited to working no more than 25 hours per week of overtime and that is inclusive of all overtime. The policy should prohibit officers from taking comp time or vacation from their regularly assigned duties for the sole purpose of working a chief’s Overtime assignment. APD supervisors, prior to approving a leave request, should be required to check with the Chiefs Overtime Program to make sure that the officer is not signed up for Chief’s Overtime and/or they are not taking leave to go to work a Chief’s Overtime assignment during the very same hours they are scheduled to work their assigned shift. Officers should be prohibited from working Chief’s Overtime if they are in an “on call” status. The policy should reflect any recommendations that were made by the City Auditor. Lastly, the policy should be vigorously enforced and adhered to by all APD personnel.” (April 12, 2019, Police Oversight Investigation report, page 11.)
STATE LAW IS CLEAR
In accordance with the New Mexico Audit Act, §§ 12-6-1 to 12-6-14, NMSA 1978, the New Mexico State Auditor’s office has only two statutory purposes:
“(1) to ensure that the financial affairs of every agency shall be thoroughly examined and audited each year by the state auditor, personnel of the state auditor’s office designated by the state auditor or independent auditors approved by the state auditor
(2) cause the financial affairs and transactions of an agency to be audited in whole or in part. (Section 12-6-3, NMSA 1978.)”
These two statutory purposes grant the State Auditor the authority to conduct both financial and special financial audits to identify financial irregularities, waste, fraud and abuse by the government entities.
The Office of the State Auditor conducts and oversees audits of approximately 1,000 government entities, from large state agencies to small political subdivisions.
The authority of the office is to review the financial affairs of government agencies, including contracts, purchases agreements and make sure that the government agencies are not engaged in fraud, waste and abuse of government and taxpayer funds.
The State Auditor does not have any prosecutorial authority and when criminal wrong doing is found in an audit, it is turned over to the appropriate state or federal prosecuting agency.
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
APD’s overtime have been a chronic problem over the years. The department goes over its overtime budget by millions each year. In 2017, APD was budgeted for $9 million but spent $13 million. APD’s department’s overtime policies underwent an independent audit in 2016 but the recommendations were never implemented.
When Tim Keller was New Mexico State Auditor, he became the “white knight” champion to find and stop “waste, fraud and abuse” of taxpayer money by government officials and employees. As State Auditor, Keller went so far as to create a “fraud investigation unit” hiring investigators to ferret out waste, fraud and abuse by government officials and employees.
Keller’s audits of state and city governments garnered him extensive press coverage and public support that no doubt helped with his successful campaign to become Mayor of Albuquerque over now State Auditor Brian Colon who also ran for Mayor against Keller. Keller became Mayor less than two years after being elected State Auditor and resigned with two years left in his term as auditor. Now that he has become Mayor, its obvious Keller does not have the stomach and not even to want to acknowledge any “waste, fraud and abuse” within his own police department and sanctioned by his appointed command staff.
If New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colon truly wants to get to the bottom of any and all overtime “waste, fraud and abuse” within APD, his audit needs to include t all other police officers within the department, police overtime, annual leave time and the Chief’s Overtime Program. Further, after the audit is completed, the findings need to be forwarded on to the Bernalillo County District Attorneys Office or the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office.
Otherwise, it will appear that New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colon has purchased Tim Keller’s bestselling book “How To Get Headlines Investigating Waste, Fraud and Abuse To Move On To Higher Office”.
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