On June 10, the on line news and opinion outlet ABQ Reports published a story on the Albuquerque Police Department new overtime policy announced by Chief Michael Geier. The article was written and published by editor Dennis Domraski. Following is the article with the links to related columns:
HEADLINE: APD TRIES TO CURB MASSIVE OVERTIME USE/ABUSE
June 10, 2020
By Dennis Domrzalski
“Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier has moved to limit the excessive overtime hours that some APD officers have been claiming.
On May 29, Geier issued a special order capping the amount of regular time and over time that officers can work to 65 hours a week. For an officer that works a regular 40-hour shift, that means a maximum of 25 hours of overtime a week. There are some exceptions, but here’s the key paragraph from Geier’s order:
“The total number of hours an officer, sergeant or lieutenant can work in any one week is sixty-five (65) hours per week. This does not include court overtime. All chief’s overtime, grant overtime and any other work overtime will go toward the cap of sixty-five (65) hours per week. Any exception to this sixty-five hour per week maximum must be pre-approved by their Bureau Deputy Chief. If unscheduled overtime takes an employee over the weekly cap they must notify their chain of command by the end of the work shift in which the cap is reached. A Commander can approve an employee working additional hours to meet significant operational needs but not for Chief’s or grant overtime. The Chief of Police or his designee can waive the weekly cap to meet department operational needs.”
READ THE FULL ORDER HERE:
That last sentence is a huge loophole as it can let Geier or any other police chief suspend the order for weeks or months at a time.
Cynical minds have suggested that Geier’s special order is an attempt to head off an investigation that State Auditor Brian Colón’s office is conducting into APD’s overtime problems. We reported on that investigation a few weeks ago. The story is posted below.
If Geier is serious about stemming APD’s overtime flood it will be bad news for the department’s overtime king, the human robot, officer Simon Drobik. In 2018 Drobik claimed extraordinary amounts of overtime, sometimes billing the city for more than 24 hours of work in a single day.
Last month we reported that Drobik, whose base pay is $31.50 an hour, was on his way to make $247,000 this year, For the first five months of this year, Drobik has made $89,775 according to city payroll records.
One thing that Geier’s order doesn’t address is outside work by APD officers and how much work outside of the department they can do. Drobik, for instance, has boasted that he has worked as a consultant on a Netflix movie. We have no idea how much time Drobik worked on the movie or if that work overlapped with his APD duties.”
Links to ABQ Report stories on Drobik overtime paid are here:
DROBIK IS JUST A DOLLAR IN IN A SWIMMING POOL OF APD OVERTIME CASH PAID
On May 22, ABQ Reports published an article that APD Sergeant and Public Information Officer Simon Drobik was racking up massive and record setting amounts of overtime pay. For the first 4 months of this year, Drobik, whose base pay is $31.50 an hour ($63,630 yearly) has made $82,371, according to the city’s website. If he continues on the pace, Drobik will be paid $247,113 for the year. That will shatter the record of $192,973 that Drobik made in 2018, the year that Drobick’s excessive overtime was first reported on by ABQ Reports.
At the end of each calendar year, City Hall releases the top 250 wage earners. 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 City of Albuquerque recently updated the list for the year 2019. A full listing of the names and salaries can be found here:
In 2018, the breakdown of the 250 top paid city hall employees revealed that all were paid between $100,000 to $192,937.23. In 2018, there were 140 Police Officers and 55 Fire and Rescue Officers for a total of 195 out of 250.
In 2019, the breakdown of the 250 top paid city hall employees showed they were paid between $107,885 to $193,666.23. There was an even bigger disproportionate number of APD officers and Firefighters in 2019 over 2018. In 2019 there were 160 sworn APD police officers and 49 AFRD personnel for a total of 209 public safety employees. The remaining 41 includes 24 Department Directors and 17 other unclassified and classified positions. The lopsided numbers in APD can be attributed to overtime paid to the employees. The earning figures do not include take home vehicles, reimbursements, such as mileage and tuition, and vacation and sick leave accumulated amounts which are all taxable income once paid.
KELLER ADMINISTRATION TOP 20 PAID CITY HALL EMPLOYEES
Following are the names, titles and earned pay of the 20 top paid city hall employees for 2019:
1. Hernandez, Michael F, Police Sergeant 193,666.40
2. Johnson, Brian A, Senior Police Officer 1C, 188,884.04
3. Nair, Sarita Chief Administrative Officer 186,747.20
4. Geier, Michael Chief of Police 183,378.60
5. Rael, Lawrence Chief Operations Officer 181,953.60
6. Pholphiboun, Phetamphone B Police Sergeant 166,813.86
7. Drobik, Simon Master Police Officer 1C 166,484.67
8. Languit, Luke C Police Lieutenant 164,722.80
9. Ortiz, Christopher G Fire Para Battalion Chief – 40 HR 163,905.80
10 Rosenbaum, Nils Police Director of Behavioral Sciences 163,800.01
11. Lopez, Daniel J Police Sergeant 154,969.57
12. Yara, Stephanie M Director of Council Services 151,467.48
13. Pearson, Nicholas R Master Police Officer 1C149,157.79
14. Martinez, Dominic P Police Sergeant 149,152.48
15. Kim, Chad S Fire Battalion Chief – 56 HR 148,740.00
16. Dow, Paul Fire Chief – 40 HR 148,128.08
17. McCarson, Timothy W Senior Police Officer 1C 147,207.30
18. Do,Si N Fire Para Driver – 56 HR 145,018.19
19. Aguilar Jr,Esteban A City Attorney 144,386.41
20. Tapia,Jacob A Fire Para Lieutenant – 40 HR 144,292.81
APD CHIEF’S OFFICE
In the APD Chief’s Office, there were 10 major employees in the list of 250 top paid employees in 2019 earning pay ranging from $109,017 to $183,378. The highest 5 paid employees in the Chief’s Office for 2019 were:
1. Geier, Michael Chief of Police 183,378.60
2. Gonzalez, Arturo E Deputy Chief 140,498.63
3. Garcia, Eric J Deputy Chief 140,144.28
4. Medina, Harold Deputy Chief 136,040.20
5. Griego, Jon J Deputy Chief 134,522.59
There were 16 APD Commanders in the list of 250 top paid employees in 2019 earning pay ranging from $108,181 to $129,230. The 5 highest paid APD Commanders for 2019 were:
1. Rivera, Donovan J Commander 129,230.57
2. Espinosa, Timothy R Commander 125,755.19
3. Garcia, Mizel Commander 124,594.94
4. Lowe, Cori M Commander 124,053.18
5. George, Christopher N Commander 123,592.45
There were 32 APD Lieutenants in the list of 250 top paid employees in 2019 earning pay ranging from $108,031 to $164,722. Hourly pay rate for APD Lieutenants is $40.00 an hour or $83,200 yearly. The 5 highest paid APD Lieutenants for 2019 were:
1. Languit, Luke C Lieutenant 164,722.80
2. Patterson, Christopher Lieutenant 138,606.30
3. Jones, Aaron M. PD-Police Lieutenant 136,824.53
4. Bell Garcia, Jennifer L Lieutenant 134,492.33
5. Bassett, Jeremy D Lieutenant 132,599.17
There were 32 APD Sergeants in the list of 250 top paid employees in 2019 earning pay ranging from $109,292 to $193,666. Hourly pay rate for APD Sergeants is $35 an hour, or $72,800 a year. The 5 highest paid Sergeants in 2019 were:
1. Hernandez, Michael F Police Sergeant 193,666.40
2. Pholphiboun, Phetamphone B Police Sergeant 166,813.86
3. Lopez, Daniel J Sergeant 154,969.57
4. Martinez, Dominic P Sergeant 149,152.48
5. Hunt, Justin R Sergeant 140,961.94
APD Patrol Officers:
There were 70 APD patrol officers in the list of 250 top paid employees in 2019 earning pay ranging from $108,167 to $188,844. Hourly pay rate for Patrol Officers is $29.00 an hour to $31.50 an hour depending upon years of experience. The top 20 highest paid Patrol Officers in 2019 were:
1. Johnson, Brian, Senior Police Officer 1C 188,884.04
2. Drobik, Simon Master Police Officer 1C 166,484.67
3. Pearson, Nicholas R Master Police Officer 1C 149,157.79
4. McCarson, Timothy W Senior Police Officer 1C 147,207.30
5. Hollier, Jeremy B Senior Police Officer 1C 143,229.86
6. Martinez, Yvonne Master Police Officer 1C 140,522.20
7. Lehocky, Andrew J Master Police Officer 1C 140,107.90
8. Garza, Ramiro J Senior Police Officer 1C 136,815.26
9. Solis, Brenda M Senior Police Officer 1C 136,522.25
10. Canales, Ladio Senior Police Officer 1C 135,591.41
11. Rico, Michael K Senior Police Officer 1C 133,020.75
12. Hernandez, Francisco F Senior Police Officer 1C 132,288.88
13. Hernandez Jr, Jimmy S Senior Police Officer 1C 132,093.96
14. Burchell, Edward Master Police Officer 1C 131,582.84
15. Carter, Jessie W. Senior Police Officer 1C 131,530.98
16. Swessel, Robert A Master Police Officer 1C 131,402.46
17. Shook, Michael B. Senior Police Officer 1C 130,875.25
18. O’Neil, Craig P Master Police Officer 1C 129,424.58
19. Champine, Daniel J Master Police Officer 1C 128,915.79
20. Montano, Joshua Senior Police Officer 1C 124,635.53
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Police officers earning excessive overtime is nothing new. It has been going on for years and is very common knowledge. During the last 9 years, the Albuquerque Police Department has consistently gone over its overtime budget by millions. In fiscal year 2016, APD was funded for $9 million for over time but APD actually spent $13 million. A March, 2017 city internal audit of APD’s overtime spending found police officers taking advantage of a system that allows them to accumulate excessive overtime at the expense of other city departments. A city internal audit report released in March, 2017 revealed that the Albuquerque Police Department spent over $3.9 million over its $9 million “overtime” budget.
On April 13, 2020, the Albuquerque City Council enacted R-20-31 which is the city’s operating budget for fiscal year 2020-2021 that goes into effect on July 1, 2020 and ends June 31, 2021 for all city hall departments. The 2020-2021 APD operating budget is $207,877,000 and it has a mere $2,225,000 allocated for overtime.
THE DANGERS OF POLICE OVERTIME TO PUBLIC SAFETY
APD has an alarming increase in “classified” positions that are being paid 6 figure pay based on hourly wages. The increase pay requires you to assume that all are doing a good, great or an exceptional job which is very difficult to justify when it turns out that is not the case or abuse is found. The 6 figure salaries being paid to sworn Patrol Officers can be attributed to “overtime” worked which is very problematic.
From a personnel management standpoint, when you have a select few that are taking home the lion’s share of overtime, it causes moral problems with the rest. Consecutive shifts or excessive overtime for any police officer can lead to extreme fatigue, emotional burnout and reduce an officer’s alertness and response times and reflexes that can endanger lives and public safety.
Excessive overtime paid is a red flag for abuse of the system, mismanagement of police resources or the lack of personnel. APD has added approximately 100 police officers last year as a result of increases in pay and an aggressive recruitment program. APD is projected to have upwards of 980 sworn police by July 1, 2020. The ultimate goal of the Keller Administration is to have 1,200 full time sworn police.
Overtime paid by APD should have come down as more police officers were added to the ranks, but that did not happen. When APD exceeds its overtime budget, it is to the detriment of other city departments and other city employees in that the additional funding must be found somewhere else, either by taking it from other departments and programs, budget cuts or cost saving measurements.
For the last 3 years, APD has exceeded its overtime budget by as much as $4 million or more. In 2019, APD spent $11.5 million paying sworn police overtime when the budget was $9 million. The 2020-2021 budget which begins on July 1, 2020 provides a mere $2,225,000 to pay for police overtime.
RESTRUCTURE APD 40 HOUR WEEKLY PAY SYSTEM TO SALARY PAY SYSTEM
Chief Michael Geier’s change in the overtime policy is a good first step, but it does not go far enough and will likely be abused, no doubt with the blessing of the APD chain of command. The new policy has a glaring loophole as pointed out by ABQ Reports when the policy states “The Chief of Police or his designee can waive the weekly cap to meet department operational needs.” No doubt Dolbick, based on his past overtime, will take advantage of the loophole, so the Chief should not even bother or waste his time.
Authorizing a 65-hour work week with the normal 40 hours work week and adding 25 hours of overtime does not make much sense if you want to avoid extreme fatigue and emotional burnout. It is likely given the amount of pay involved, more officers will want to work 65-hour work weeks, 40 at regular pay and 25 at time and a half.
The 25-hour cap on overtime should be monthly, not weekly and an “on call” shift pool of officers should be created. As another alternative to paying overtime and longevity bonuses the City should do away with APD hourly wage and time and a half for overtime for sworn police and implement a salary structure based strictly on steps and years of service. A complete restructuring of the existing APD 40-hour work week and hourly wage system needs to be implemented.
A base pay salary system should be implemented for all APD sworn personnel. A base salary system with step increases for length of service should be implemented. The longevity bonus pay would be eliminated and built into the salary structure. Mandatory shift time to work would remain the same, but if more time is needed to complete a work load or assignments for the day, the salaried employee works it for the same salary with no overtime paid and a modification of shift times for court appearances.
APD Patrol Officers First Class who handle DWI during nighttime shifts should be required to change their shift times to daytime shifts when the arraignments and trials occur to prevent overtime pay. As an alternative to DWI arraignment, the City Attorney’s Office should explore the possibility of expanding or modifying the Metro Traffic Arraignment Program with the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office assisting to include not just traffic citations but DWI arraignments to eliminate the need for APD officers to appear at such arraignments.
Until real overtime pay and salary pay reform is implemented at APD, do not expect too much to change and expect the overtime abuse to continue at APD, especially by APD spokespersons such as Simon Dolbick and the other 150 sworn police in the list of the top 250 paid city hall employees.