On July 13, the on line news publication ABQReport published the following news item update followed by the original news story:
July 13, News Update, 5:30 p.m.
BY: Dennis Domrzalski and Dan Klein
“The Albuquerque Police Department’s overtime king, officer Simon Drobik, abruptly retired from the department on Friday, July 10. Drobik retired before APD’s Internal Affairs unit could complete an investigation into the large amounts of overtime he had claimed so far this year, APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos told ABQReport.
Gallegos also said that APD has notified the State Auditor’s Office of potential time card fraud found during its IA investigation.
Here is the statement Gallegos emailed ABQReport … [on July 13]:
“Simon Drobik submitted his paperwork on July 10 to retire from APD prior to the completion of an ongoing Internal Affairs investigation. The department has been scrutinizing the significant amount of officer overtime, especially during the COVID pandemic, to determine whether it is justified. We are notifying the State Auditor’s Office of potential time card fraud discovered during our investigation.”
Below is our original story on the State Auditor ordering a special audit of APD’s overtime practices:
HEADLINE: Simon Drobik retires from APD before Internal Affairs investigation complete. APD finds potential time card fraud; Notifies State Auditor!; Drobick Not The Only One Needing Investigation
JULY 13, 2020
BY: Dennis Domrzalski and Dan Klein
— The order for a special audit means that the State Auditor’s initial inquiry found big problems at APD.
— We hear that officer Simon Drobik abruptly retired last week. The city has yet to confirm that.
The New Mexico State Auditor’s Office has ordered the city of Albuquerque to initiate a special audit of overtime practices and payments at the Albuquerque Police Department.
The order for the special audit came after Auditor Brian Colón’s office had launched a fact-finding probe earlier this year into APD’s overtime practices. The demand for the special audit—which the city must pay for—means that the auditor’s initial inquiry found major problems at APD in regards to it’s overtime practices.
And the man whose actions might have helped launch the probe, officer Simon Drobik, abruptly retired from APD last week, sources told ABQReport. We emailed Mayor Tim Keller’s and APD’s spokespeople this morning and asked if Drobik had indeed retired. As of publication time they had not responded.
The city was ordered to perform the special audit in a June 24 letter from Colón to Keller.
The link to State Auditor Brian Colon’s letter to Mayor Tim Keller is here:
“The Office of the State Auditor (OSA) received allegations raising concerns regarding the practices of the City of Albuquerque (“City”) related to police overtime processes and payments, as well as internal controls,” Colón’s letter said. “With respect to these concerns, the OSA hereby designates the City for a special audit in order to examine the City’s compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures.”
APD has had problems with overtime pay for years. In the past several years two internal city audits have highlighted the ongoing problems and called for reforms. But those reforms apparently never came.
Last year, ABQReport wrote that Drobik, whom we dubbed The Human Robot, was paid $192,973 in 2018. That included massive amounts of overtime. On at least two occasions, Drobik billed the city for more hours than there are in a day.
And last year the Civilian Police Oversight Agency investigated Drobik’s overtime pay and found that he had violated APD policy an astounding 51 times. The CPOA recommended that Drobik be fired, but APD Chief Mike Geier rejected the recommendation and imposed no discipline on Drobik.
In May, ABQReport wrote that Drobik was back on the overtime train and had been paid $82,371 for the first four months of the year. That’s on a base salary of $31.50 an hour.
Here’s an excerpt from that story:
“For the first four months of this year, Drobik, whose base pay is $31.50 an hour ($65,520 yearly) has made $82,371, according to the city’s website. If he continues on this pace, Drobik will make a jaw-dropping $247,113 for the year. That will shatter the record of $192,973 that Drobik made in 2018, the year that we first reported on his apparent super-human capacity for work.
“What is even more astonishing about this is Drobik’s brazenness and the city’s and APD’s apparent unwillingness to stop him from working/claiming so much overtime, even in the face of massive criticism about the issue. Last April the Civilian Police Oversight Agency and the Police Oversight Board found that Drobik violated APD policy 51 times in claiming massive amounts of OT in 2018. There were a couple of days when Robot Drobik billed the city—meaning you, the taxpayers—for more than 24 hours of work in a day. Both agencies recommended that APD Chief Mike Geier fire Drobik. But Geier ignored the recommendations and imposed no discipline against Drobik.
Here’s how the Albuquerque Journal described the CPOA’s report on Drobik’s astounding amounts of overtime:
“While the report emphasizes that there was no evidence of criminal activity, it did find that throughout 2018 Drobik violated policies more than 50 times by getting paid simultaneously for being on call as a spokesman and working the “chief’s overtime” at local businesses.
In one case he left Target, where he was stationed for “chief’s overtime” – a practice in which private companies can pay the city to have an officer stationed outside their business. Officers who take part in the program are paid time and a half.
“This is in direct violation of SOP (Standard Operating Procedures),” the investigation’s recommendation memo says. “Yet Officer D. knowingly and repeatedly violated this policy to enrich himself. Despite the lack of supervision from the department, an officer’s moral code of ethics does not allow an officer to continually violate policy, especially for their own gains.”
This past June, Geier finally moved to cap overtime at the department. But that was after we had reported that Colon’s office had started its preliminary probe into APD’s overtime practices.”
The link to ABQReports is here
NOT THE FIRST TIME DROBIK INVESTIGATED
Last year, after the Civilian Police Oversight Agency found that Drobik violated APD’s overtime policies more than 50 times by getting paid both as an APD spokesperson and working the chief’s overtime and getting paid more than $192,000 APD Police Chief Michael Geier went to the defense of Drobick. Geier said there was confusion about overtime practices and disagreed with demands that Drobik be fired. The police union also went to Drobik’s defense saying how hard he worked. Mayor Tim Keller for his part deflected and deflected saying APD was committed to revamping overtime practices but kept his mouth shut and did not say anything about Drobik being removed as spokesman or terminated.
On July 13, in announcing the special audit of overtime abuse, State Auditor Brian Colon said his office launched an investigation after receiving numerous tips last year. Colon is now designating a special audit for the case after he said his office found enough red flags related to overtime practices and internal controls at the department. Colon had this to say:
“For anybody in leadership in any law enforcement agency to say that the overtime process is confusing, that is a problem. That is a clear indication that we have lack of clarity from the top. … We are not investigating just one transaction or just one individual. In fact, we are going to be evaluating the process, procedures, protocols and oversight to ensure there is not any abuse in the system.”
DROBICK NOT THE ONLY ONE
Pervasive abuse of overtime paid by APD to rank and file is “red flagged” when you review the list of the 250 top city hall wages earners. A total of 160 of the top 250 wage earners at city hall last year were employed by APD, with the majority being APD lieutenants, sergeants, police officers first class, master and senior.
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. The list starts with the most paid at $193,666.40 to the least paid at $107,885.47, with many being paid 2 and 3 times their base pay. A link to a related blog article containing the list of top 250 follows this article.
The 6-figure compensation being paid to sworn police can be attributed mainly to “overtime” paid. There are nearly a dozen different types of overtime programs within the APD. The categories where APD Officers can earn overtime include holiday work, tac-plan initiatives, training, call outs, calls for service, special events, administrative work, investigations, and court appearances. DWI check points and special events like the Balloon Fiesta and security detail for high profile dignitary visits are all events that require an extensive amount of overtime.
APD Lieutenants, Sergeants, Police Officers First Class, Master, Senior are all part of the police union. The police union contract entitles a police officer to be paid “time and a half” when overtime is worked on any given day or week. Following is a breakdown of pay from last year:
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. These positions are classified employee and are permitted to be part of the police union and as such are entitled to be paid time and a half for overtime worked under the union contract. The 32 Lieutenants and their pay was:
Languit, Luke C Lieutenant 164,722.80
Patterson, Christopher Lieutenant 138,606.30
Jones, Aaron M. PD-Police Lieutenant 136,824.53
Bell Garcia, Jennifer L Lieutenant 134,492.33
Bassett, Jeremy D Lieutenant 132,599.17
Anaya, Adam Lieutenant 130,357.92
Frick, Sean M Lieutenant 128,819.03
McElroy, Matthew Lieutenant 128,802.41
Altman, Steve A Lieutenant 128,026.22
Price, Bryan H Lieutenant 127,649.99
Johnston, Kenneth L Lieutenant 127,131.74
Woodard, Timothy C Para Lieutenant 126,448.18
Barraza, Rene Lieutenant 125,395.24
Puariea, Karla P Para Lieutenant 125,148.94
Norris, Scott T Lieutenant 125,108.42
Napoleone, Kevin J Lieutenant 124,720.27
Parsons, Scott W Lieutenant 122,828.34
Saladin, David R Lieutenant 122,580.22
Tafoya, Dennis Lieutenant 122,480.98
Esquibel, Timothy Lieutenant 121,050
Barker, Cecily A Lieutenant 119,355.26
Deyapp, Lena T Lieutenant 115,430.07
Brown, Joshua M Lieutenant 119,782.52
Brodbeck, Michael K Lieutenant 115,436.50
Martinez, Melvin J Para Lieutenant – 40 HR 115,208.12
Cottrell, Zakary F Lieutenant 114,736.04
Wallace, Sean P Lieutenant 113,973.16
Chacon, Jennifer M Lieutenant 110,584.76
Tapia, Amanda C Lieutenant 109,649.60
Bowie, Terysa Lieutenant 108,528.26
Baca, David R Lieutenant 108,165.90
Weber, Gregory E Lieutenant 108,031.08
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. These positions are classified employee and are permitted to be part of the police union and as such are entitled to be paid time and a half for overtime worked under the union contract. The 32 Sergeants and their pay was:
Hernandez, Michael F Police Sergeant 193,666.40
Pholphiboun, Phetamphone B Police Sergeant 166,813.86
Lopez, Daniel J Sergeant 154,969.57
Martinez, Dominic P Sergeant 149,152.48
Hunt, Justin R Sergeant 140,961.94
Economidy III, Byron G Sergeant 138,305.75
Stockton, Robert M Sergeant 134,315.52
Kenny, Sean P Sergeant 126,987.12
Cancilla, Zachary A Sergeant 126,163.99
Anderson, Hollie L Sergeant 125,887.78
Schmidt, Matthew J Sergeant 123,878.97
Pitzer, Brian D Sergeant 123,666.89
Brown, Eric Sergeant 118,229.24
Knipprath, Brock M. Sergeant 120,086.01
Chavez, Matthew M Sergeant 119,850.43
Chavez, Dennis Sergeant 122,182.17
Nelson, Ryan H Sergeant 118,249.02
Paige, Brian AV-Aviation Sergeant 115,896.04
Sandoval, Albert Sergeant 114,699.80
Wild, Amanda Sergeant 114,376.03
Richards, Joshua R. Sergeant 114,061.11
Sedler, Amy J Sergeant 113,008.40
Haugh, Paul Sergeant 113,517.31
Hernandez, Armando F. Sergeant 112,835.56
Armijo, Louis J Sergeant 112,287.92
Monte, Lawrence E Sergeant 111,833.05
Rojas, Ernesto AV-Aviation Sergeant 111,453.67
Ingram, Richard S Sergeant 110,663.50
Martin, Paul A. Sergeant 110,472.28
Gomez, Gustavo A. Sergeant 110,138.01
Barnard, Jeffery R. Sergeant 109,459.56
Ortiz, James Sergeant 109,292.95
POLICE OFFICERS FIRST CLASS, MASTER, SENIOR
There were 70 APD patrol officers first class, master, senior 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. These positions are classified employee and are permitted to be part of the police union and are paid time and a half for overtime worked under the union contract.
Johnson, Brian, Senior Police Officer 1C 188,884.04
Drobik, Simon Master Police Officer 1C 166,484.67
Pearson, Nicholas R Master Police Officer 1C 149,157.79
McCarson, Timothy W Senior Police Officer 1C 147,207.30
Hollier, Jeremy B Senior Police Officer 1C 143,229.86
Martinez, Yvonne Master Police Officer 1C 140,522.20
Lehocky, Andrew J Master Police Officer 1C 140,107.90
Garza, Ramiro J Senior Police Officer 1C 136,815.26
Solis, Brenda M Senior Police Officer 1C 136,522.25
Canales, Ladio Senior Police Officer 1C 135,591.41
Rico, Michael K Senior Police Officer 1C 133,020.75
Hernandez, Francisco F Senior Police Officer 1C 132,288.88
Hernandez Jr, Jimmy S Senior Police Officer 1C 132,093.96
Burchell, Edward Master Police Officer 1C 131,582.84
Carter, Jessie W. Senior Police Officer 1C 131,530.98
Swessel, Robert A Master Police Officer 1C 131,402.46
Shook, Michael B. Senior Police Officer 1C 130,875.25
O’Neil, Craig P Master Police Officer 1C 129,424.58
Champine, Daniel J Master Police Officer 1C 128,915.79
Montano, Joshua Senior Police Officer 1C 124,635.53
Brown, Jason Senior Police Officer 1C 124,396.46
Solis, Emmanuel Senior Police Officer 1C 124,356.64
Burley, John V. Senior Police Officer 1C 123,201.06
Kaskalla, Duran G, Senior Police Officer 1C 122,293.95
Breeden, Charles F Senior Police Officer 1C 121,813.68
Maes, Kelly R Senior Police Officer 1C 121,460.96
Rogillio, Justin L Senior Police Officer 1C 120,907.69
Hooee, Alonzo Senior Police Officer 1C 120,848.24
Frazier, Jared L Senior Police Officer 1C 119,790.19
Lujan, Damian M Senior Police Officer 1C 119,752.79
Fox, James Master Police Officer 1C 119,648.21
Novicki, Thomas D Master Police Officer 1C 119,512.95
Franklin, Daniel J Master Police Officer 1C 119,445.19
Barela, Victor D Senior Police Officer 1C 119,403.34
Ruiz, Luis A Police Officer 1C 119,180.60
Miller, Charles W Senior Police Officer 1C 118,863.48
Jojola, Eric J AV-Aviation Senior Police Officer 1C 117,527.64
Luna, Michael A Master Police Officer 1C 116,607.28
Torgrimson, Daniel A Master Police Officer 1C 116,593.63
Juarez, Terra K Master Police Officer 1C 116,369.80
St. John, Phoy R Senior Police Officer 1C 116,158.36
Romero, Arnold C Aviation Master Police Officer 1C 116,001.11
Walsh, Stephen T Master Police Officer 1C 115,270.93
Yurcisin, Daniel E Senior Police Officer 1C 115,181.80
Martinez, Herman G Master Police Officer 1C /115,084.94
Armijo, Leonard R Police Officer 1C 114,088.46
Hotle, Timothy Senior Police Officer 1C 113,678.72
Ortiz, Nelson S Police Officer 1C 113,571.44
Meyer, Jesse M PD-Police Master Police Officer 1C 113,439.19
Oates, Michael A Senior Police Officer 1C 113,406.92
Martinez, Marisa J Senior Police Officer 1C 113,114.85
Zambrano, Anthony Master Police Officer 1C 113,009.31
Correia, Donald R Senior Police Officer 1C 112,990.10
Duran, Fred O Senior Police Officer 1C 112,826.26
Higgins, Kiel V Master Police Officer 1C 111,618.07
Williamson, James L Master Police Officer 1C 111,365.45
Groff, Matthew S Senior Police Officer 1C 111,291.87
La, Quan T Police Officer 1C 111,180.38
Rahimi, Alexander A Police Officer 1C 110,548.33
Porlas, Dwight Master Police Officer 1C 110,014.59
Abbatantuono, Guy D Senior Police Officer 1C 109,757.33
Avila, Michael A Senior Police Officer 1C 109,703.46
Perez, Lucas F Police Officer 1C 109,560.26
Lovato, Angelo J Senior Police Officer 1C 109,506.05
Redhouse, Leighton Senior Police Officer 1C 109,438.25
Gomez, Geno Virgil E Master Police Officer 1C 109,314.87
Montano, David B Senior Police Officer 1C 108,943.69
Roach, Gerald L Master Police Officer 1C 108,225.72
Wolffbrandt, Timothy E Senior Police Officer 1C 108,176.61
Herbst, Zachary C Police Officer 1C 108,167.35
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
According to the June 24, 2020 letter to Mayor Tim Keller, the Office of the State Auditor is designating the City for a special audit “in order to examine the City’s compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures.” It is an audit that must be paid for by the city with a selection of a firm from a list of firms authorized to do financial audits under a state contract. The APD Internal Affairs Investigation of Simon Drobik should be expanded to include all sworn police who were paid upwards of 25% more of their base pay to determine if there was overtime pay abuse.
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.
OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS PAY STRUCTURE
With the action of the State Auditor and the initiation of special audit, the City should use it as an opportunity to evaluate alternatives to hourly pay and paying time and a half. 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, otherwise the problem of excessive overtime paid will not go away, especially when you have a Mayor or a Chief of Police looking the other way.
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 the APD salary structure is changed, APD will always have patrol officers first class making two to four times their base salary and emotional burnout will be the norm, not the exception endangering public safety. The trend of having more classified APD employees earning such high hourly wage pay does not bode well from an executive personnel management standpoint.
You would think APD had learned its lesson after all the prior audits, but they did not and greed once again got the better part of Albuquerque’s finest. Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Michael Geier essentially defending Drobik and looking the other way when the problem was first brought to their attention did not help much either. Once the special audit is completed, State Auditor Brian Colon should forward the audit to the New Mexico Attorney General and a special grand jury needs to be convened to determine what criminal charges, if any, should be filed.
In 2019 There Were 160 Of 250 Top Paid City Hall Employees That Were Police Paid Between $107,885.47 to $193,666.40 and 49 Were Firefighters That Were Paid $107,885.47 To 148,128.08; Abolish APD Overtime, Longevity Pay; Implement Set Salary Structure; Remove APD Sergeants And Lieutenants From Police Union