It was on Friday, August 6, 2021, the New Mexico State Auditor’s long-awaited special audit report on overtime abuse by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) was released. It was the 7th audit performed on APD overtime practices since 2014. The special audit looked at the time period of January 1, 2018, through June 30, 2020 which was the first two and half years of Mayor Tim Keller’s first term.
The 6 prior audits resulted in 17 findings and recommendation made to stop the overtime pay abuse. The 2021 special audit found there was an absolute failure by APD command staff to carry out and implement the changes needed to solve the overtime problem. The released audit also identified that certain APD police union contract terms and conditions are in violation of the Federal Labor Standards Act and that the police union contract has contributed significantly to the overtime pay abuse by rank-and-file police officers. According to the special audit:
“The 2014 and 2017 reports had all of the findings and recommendations necessary to fix and prevent the issues reported on in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 reports. … The logical question is – what happened? The findings were clear, as were the recommendations. However, the recommendations were not implemented.”
In its response to the audit findings, the Keller Administration issued a harsh statement blaming Mayor Tim Keller’s appointed former APD Police Chief Michael Geier for all the overtime abuse problems. The statement said in part:
“The former chief knowingly covered up overtime abuses and helped his favored employees’ game the system to enrich themselves. … The report makes it clear that the ‘tone at the top’ of APD was a major driver of the abuse and the failure to make needed changes. We didn’t hesitate to take bold action to remove the top cop and get the department back on track.”
APD spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos added that there will be a review of the top 20 overtime earners every quarter and said:
“There is no room for favoritism when it comes to protecting public funds. … It shouldn’t have taken multiple audits to fix APD’s overtime system. The problems and the solutions have been obvious for years. … We have a whole new chief, new deputy chiefs, the commanders of a new mayoral administration, city finance. So my assumption is they just didn’t know about these previous audits. … Under Chief Medina’s new leadership, he took quick action to implement those solutions and ensure there is an ongoing review of overtime so employees are held accountable.”
Newly appointed APD Chief Harold Medina for his part said changes were happening to create more oversight and said:
“We just notified commanders of their top 20 overtime earners for the department and we’re going to ask commanders to make sure that the surface and everything looks good and that there’s no issues, and in the near future we’re going to add an audit to that. ”
Links to the quoted source material are here:
KRQE INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
It turns out Chief Medina’s new overtime policy directive did not work with respect to Lieutenant Jim Edison who was brought to the Chief’s Office to head up APD’s COVID-19 response. It also did not stop overtime pay abuse by many other sworn officers, especially sergeants and lieutenants.
According to a March 14, 2021 KRQE News 13 Investigative report, over the course of one year, Lieutenant Jim Edison was paid $242,758 which consisted of a base pay and overtime pay. To put this staggering amount into perspective, hourly based pay for APD Lieutenants in 2020 and 2021 was $40 an hour or $83,200 a year. In other words, Edison was paid $159,558 in overtime in addition to his $83,200 base pay resulting in $242,758 paid in the one year reviewed. Edison was paid upwards of 3 times his base pay all because of overtime which is paid at the rate of time and a half.
APD sergeants and lieutenants, although management, are allowed to be members of the police union. Under the police union contract, they are required to work a 40-hour work week and are then are paid time and a half for all time reportedly worked over their 40 hour work week hours. Overtime pay must be approved in writing by supervising personnel and in advance where possible.
The $242,758 Lieutenant Jim Edison was paid in 2021 was considerably more than all of APD top command staff who he reported to in the Chief’s office. In 2021, the top 7 APD command staff were paid as follows:
Police Chief Harold Medina: $177,562.68
1st Deputy Chief Michael Jay Smathers: $149,881.56
2nd Deputy Chief Eric Garcia: , $147,444.20
Deputy Chief Cecily Barker: $147,201.70
Deputy Chief Deputy Jon Griego: $144,228.47
Deputy Chief Joshua Brown: $134,608.38
Deputy Chief Cori Lowe, $128,409.85
According to the KRQE news report, in order for Lieutenant Jim Edison to be paid $242,758 yearly figure in 2021, Edison “cheated” on his overtime pay claims every day for a full year. Even though Edison’s overtime pay claims violated APD personnel rules and regulations, APD’s top command staff in the chief’s office failed to oversee it and approved it without any questions.
APD CALL OUT TIME
Lieutenant Jim Edison’s overtime pay abuse dates back to early 2020 during the first days of the pandemic when he was transferred to the Chief’s Office to head up APD’s COVID-19 response. Edison was responsible for coordinating testing, contact tracing, pandemic-related stats, emails and phone calls. Edison’s job in the Chief’s Office was primarily administrative desk work.
According to payroll records reviewed, on a daily basis, including weekends, Edison claimed thousands of hours in “call-out overtime”. APD policy on “call-out overtime” is that it is paid to off-duty officers who are called back to work outside their regular shift. For example, if there is homicide call out, the Homicide Detective who goes to the crime scene is paid time and a half for reporting to duty in the middle of the night.
Whenever Edison was off-duty and forwarded a voicemail to someone else, Lieutenant Jim Edison claimed two hours of call-out overtime. Records reflect that it was not uncommon for Lieutenant Jim Edison to send an email at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and then claim call-out overtime.
Examples of Edison’s overtime pay claims that were found reviewing payroll records are as follows:
January 8, 2021: Edison went to Lowes to “pick up supplies” and claimed an hour call-out overtime.
January 13, 2021: The Edison put in for a half-hour of overtime to investigate who parked in a deputy chief’s parking place.
January 16, 2021: Edison claimed 12 hours in time and a half call-back overtime for making phone calls and sending emails from his home on his day off.
January 22, 2021: Edison documented 7 minutes of off-duty work and claimed 8 hours overtime.
January 31, 2021: On his day off, Edison accounted for 22 minutes of work and then claimed 10 hours hours and 30 minutes call-out overtime.
February 2, 2021: Before work, Edison emailed a routine spreadsheet to a Deputy Chief and put in for two hours call-out overtime.
From April 2020 to April 2021, Edison claimed $132,964 in dubious overtime payments. Whenever Edison was off-duty and forwarded a voicemail to someone else, he claimed 2 hours of call-out overtime. It was not uncommon for Edison to send an email at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and then claim call-out overtime.
TWO SEPRATE COMPLAINTS INVESTIGATED
An anonymous complaint to Albuquerque’s Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) launched an Internal Affairs investigation into Lieutenant Jim Edison’s overtime pay abuse. The CPOA investigator concluded Lieutenant Jim Edison violated rules, regulations and codes of conduct by cheating on his overtime. He was handed a two-week suspension.
Despite APD’s investigation, Edison continued to misrepresent overtime on his timesheets which led to a second Internal Affairs investigation. Edison’s supervisor was Deputy Chief Mike Smathers. Even though Edison’s daily overtime clearly violated APD policy, Deputy Chief Smathers never questioned the overtime work claimed by Edison on his timesheet and routinely approved his time on the department’s payroll system.
The Internal Affairs Investigator concluded Deputy Chief Smathers violated multiple rules and regulations by failing to review Edison’s timesheets. Smathers received a one-day suspension for his conduct as a result of the civilian police oversight agency investigation.
In a second Internal Affairs probe, the Investigator concluded Smathers violated APD rules and policy a second time by failing to review Lt. Edison’s timesheets. According to internal affairs Detective Anastacio Zamora:
“There is no evidence Deputy Chief Smathers conducted any follow-up with anyone [except Lt. Edison] to ensure things were done correctly.”
Deputy Chief Smathers was given a written reprimand for his role in the Internal Affairs case. Albuquerque’s Superintendent for Police Reform, Sylvester Stanley, who retired after 8 months on the job, made the final decision to discipline Deputy Chief Smathers.
APD Police Chief Harold Medina bent over backwards to defend Deputy Chief Smathers saying the one-day suspension was appropriate. Medina had this to say:
“Up here on the fifth floor of the Police Department, the executive staff, we’re so busy that to go through the fine details of looking through somebody’s timesheets is not something that we’re going to be carving out time for. … Jim Edison deceived Deputy Chief Smathers and Deputy Chief Smathers took accountability for that and was disciplined.
The biggest thing that Deputy Chief Smathers did wrong is he had faith and belief in Jim Edison. Jim Edison betrayed that trust. And it’s very difficult for me to paint a negative brush on Deputy Chief Smathers for being a good leader, respecting his people, listening to his people and believing in his people.”
In October, Lieutenant Jim Edison was fired, not for overtime pay abuse, but for retaliation against the supervisor who had turned him in for his overtime pay abuse. He is appealing his termination to Albuquerque’s Personnel Board. The Personnel Board will hear his case in April.
FORMER APD CHIEF MICHAEL GEIER REACTS
Former APD Chief Michael Geier was asked by KRQE News 13 Investigative reports to review Lt. Jim Edison’s payroll records. Geier said Edison’s duties were not consistent with the requirements for callout overtime and he said:
“In essence, he was creating his own overtime cash register. … I’m embarrassed for the department. It definitely is shameful. … From what I reviewed these were almost daily occurrences going on seven days a week, 24/7. I would say that it definitely is the worst (case) I’ve seen. On so many different levels this is wrong. … I’m appalled [at Deputy Chief Smathers one-day suspension. ] I couldn’t believe it when I first read it. A Deputy Chief receiving that minimal disciplinary action for such major offenses just boggles my mind.”
The link to the entire KRQE investigative report is here:
FALLOUT FROM OVERTIME ABUSE
Lieutenant Jim Edison was terminated from APD in October, 2021. He has appealed his termination to Albuquerque’s Personnel Board. The Personnel Board will hear his case in April. Chief Medina said he does not believe that former Lieutenant Jim Edison has been asked to repay the department the bogus overtime payments. Law enforcement source did say Edison’s overtime case has been referred to the Attorney General’s Office for a criminal investigation.
It is more likely than not that there will be additional fallout from the Edison case. Because Lieutenant Jim Edison’s duties related exclusively to COVID-19 response, his pay, including overtime, was funded by the federal government under the Coronavirus Air Relief & Economic Security Act (CARES Act) For that reason alone, the City of Albuquerque is responsible for reimbursing the federal government.
2020 AUDIT FINDS $400,000 PAID IN OVERTIME TO 4 POLICE OFFICERS.
On October 26, 2020 the Internal Audit Department released the performance audit that found over $400,000 paid in overtime to 4 police officers. The release audit found that 4 APD Officers claimed over 2,000 hours of paid overtime, paid at the rate of time and a half, during the fiscal year of July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2020. The names of the 4 police officers were never released by APD. The overtime paid average was 38 hours of overtime each 40-hour work week or 78 hours a week claimed in hours worked. During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 2 other police officers also exceeded 2,000 hours of paid overtime. The amount paid in overtime to each of the 4 was over $100,000 for more than a total $400,000 paid.
According to the audits “Executive Summary”:
“In a sample that included 56 weeks of officer time tested, the audit identified 64 instances of overpayments totaling at least $4,545, resulting from officers being paid based on their scheduled hours, instead of the actual hours worked. In these instances, the hours reported by the officer to Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) were at least 30 minutes less than the hours the officer was scheduled and ultimately paid for.
Additionally, not all officers had CAD reports to support any non-training related hours paid. Specifically, in the sample tested there were 40 days where CADs were missing. Amounts paid related to this time totaled a minimum of $8,635. The Office of Internal Audit also found Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are outdated and not in line with best practices.
While APD has recently taken steps to limit overtime usage, opportunities exist to further these efforts. Specifically, officers are allowed to use paid time off to work overtime which can cause a cascading effect that increases APD’s need for more overtime. OIA compared APD’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) to those of four other similar police departments and found that unlike APD, three of the four other departments do not consider paid sick leave as time worked when computing overtime.
Lastly, the audit found an isolated instance where one APD employee inappropriately utilized the system login credentials of their supervisor, to approve their own time, which included overtime payments totaling $8,830 in fiscal year 2020.”
The link to the full audit report is here:
The audit found several instances of employees being paid based on their scheduled hours and not those hours they actually worked.
The Internal Audit report recommended officers be asked to pay back their wages if they were overpaid. It was also recommended regular spot checks to see if officers were really working the hours they were reporting. APD concurred with the recommendation of repayment if necessary. However, an APD spokeswoman said she was not aware of anyone being asked to repay anything.
Salaries account for upwards of 78% of APD’s annual budget of $211 million. According to the audit report:
“Overtime related costs constituted a large portion of total APD salaries paid for … the fiscal year 2019 … APD paid $17.9 million and in  $18.3 million related overtime costs.”
A link to a related blog is here:
LIETENANT JIM EDISON FOLLOWS IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF OFFICER AND APD SPOKESMAN SIMON DROBIK AND MANY OTHERS
The overtime pay scandal involving Lieutenant Jim Edison is a repeat of what happened a mere two years ago, except then it involved APD Public Information Officer and Officer Simon Drobik. 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.
On May 2, 2019 it was reported that State Auditor Brian Colon announced that his office had begun an investigation of Drobick.
For successive years, as APD Spokesman, Drobik was routinely among the highest earners in the city. Drobik ranked No. 1 among all city employees in 2018 by being paid $192,973. In 2019, Drobik was ranked as the 7th highest wage earner in 2019. When Drobik retired in July 2020, he had already collected $106,607 for the year when his base pay rate was listed as $31.50 per hour, or $65,520 a year according city records ( $31.50 per hour X 2,080 hours a year= $65,520).
LISTING OF 250 TOP PAID CITY HALL EMPLOYEES
At the beginning of each calendar year, City Hall releases the top 250 wage earners for the previous year. 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.
Review of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 city hall 250 highest paid wage earnings reveals the extent of the staggering amount of overtime paid to APD Sergeants and Lieutenants. The lopsided number of APD sworn police officers listed in the top 250 paid city hall employees is directly attributed to the excessive amount of overtime paid to sworn police officers.
For the past 3 years in a row, over half of the top 250 wages earners at Albuquerque City Hall are APD sworn police officers in the ranks of police officer first class, senior police officer 1st class, master police officer 1st class, sergeant and lieutenant. All earned between $113,126.08 to $199,414.69 a year. All were paid hourly wages for 40-hour work week and all are paid time and a half for overtime pay.
Police officers first class, senior police officers 1st class, master police officers 1st class, sergeants and lieutenant are all members of the APD police union, they are classified employees and can only be terminated for cause. The amounts paid are two and a half times and at times 3 times more than their base yearly hourly pay primarily because of overtime pay which has been the subject of abuse and scandal in the past, including time card fraud.
All patrol officer positions and the positions of sergeant and lieutenants are classified employees, meaning not at will employees, and are permitted to be part of the police union and as such are paid time and a half for overtime worked under the union contract.
For both the years of 2019 and 2020, 160 of 250 top paid city hall employees were police who were paid between $107,885.47 to $199,666.40.
In 2019, 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 was $29.00 an hour to $31.50 an hour depending upon years of experience.
In 2019, there were 32 APD Sergeants in the list of 250 top paid employees earning pay ranging from $109,292 to $193,666. Hourly pay rate for APD Sergeants was at the time $35 an hour, or $72,800 a year.
In 2019, there were 32 APD Lieutenants in the list of 250 top paid employees earning pay ranging from $108,031 to $164,722. Hourly pay rate for APD Lieutenants was at the time $40.00 an hour or $83,200 yearly.
In 2020, there were 69 patrol officers paid between $110,680 to $176,709.
In 2020, there were 28 APD Lieutenants and 32 APD Sergeants who were paid between $110,698 to $199,001 in the list of the 250 top paid city hall employees paid between.
The link to a related blog article is here:
For the calendar year of 2021, 126 of the top 250 city hall wage earners were sworn police officers ranging from the rank of patrol officer 1st class through to the rank of Lieutenant.
The 2021 listing of APD sworn personnel reveals that between the ranks of Senior Police Officer and Lieutenant were paid between $130,000 to over $199,000 in 2021 because of overtime.
In 2021, there were a total 52 sworn police officers in the ranks of Police Officer First Class, Senior Police Officer and Master Police Officer in the listing of the top 250 top city wage earners.
For 2021, there were 27 Sergeants and 30 Lieutenants listed in the top 250 city wage earners working for APD.
HISTORY OF OVERTIME PAY EXCEEDING BUDGET
During the last 10 years, the Albuquerque Police Department has consistently gone over its overtime budgets 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 “gaming the system” that allowed 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. In 2019 APD paid $17.9 million in overtime and in 2020 paid $18.3 million in related overtime costs.
Under the union contract, sworn police are entitled to overtime compensation at the rate of time-and-one-half of their regular straight-time rate when they perform work in excess of forty (40) hours in any one workweek. Time worked over 40 hours per week is compensated at time and a half of the officer’s regular rate of pay, or in the form of “compensatory time.”
There is no police union contract provision placing a cap on the amount of overtime any officer can be paid. Compensatory time is the award of hours as already worked to be paid and is calculated at the rate of 1-1/2 times the hours actually worked. The maximum accrual of comp time for any officer is 150 hours.
The union contract allows the management positions of sergeants and lieutenants to be union members. The union contract contains no accountability provisions under the Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). The federal court appointed monitor has repeatedly found that the settlement reforms have been resisted and opposed by the police union membership of sergeants and lieutenants.
A link to a related blog article is here:
POLICE UNION CONTRACT VIOLATES FEDERAL LABOR LAW
One of the most dramatic findings of the State Auditors August 6, 2021 special report prepared by in the Porch & Associates Audit is that the APD police union contract violates the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Specifically, the Fair Labor Standards Act provides:
“Paid leave is not considered time worked for the purposes of computing overtime”.
The audit goes as far as saying terms of the union contract need to be negotiated. The audit states that the City can save thousands of dollars in overtime by insisting that the APOA police union and APD follow the Fair Labor Standards Act. The audit also said the City should not bargain away what is established by law.
The audit recommended that the City negotiate with the police union to remove the guaranteed overtime and replace it with actual time. Actual time would start when the officer leaves their home, or work assignment if after a normal shift, through the time they get home.
POLICE UNION CONTRACT VIOLATES STATE LAW
The Porch & Associates Audit ignored the role of the APD Union membership of Sergeants and Lieutenants and the union contract in the entire overtime abuse scandal.
The New Mexico Public Employees Bargaining Act, Sections 10-7E-1 to 10-7E-26 H (NMSA 1978), governs the enforcement of the city’s collective bargaining agreement with the APD police union. Section 10-7E-5 provides for the rights of public employees and states in part:
“Public employees, other than management employees and confidential employees, may form, join or assist a labor organization for the purpose of collective bargaining … .”
The link to the statute is here:
FRAUD CAN BE BOTH CIVIL AND CRIMINAL
A victim of fraud has the options of initiating a civil cause of action against a perpetrator to recover a loss the result of fraud or to file criminal charges.
In very general terms fraud is defined as “the false representation of facts, whether by intentionally withholding important information or providing false statements to another party for the specific purpose of gaining something that may not have been provided without the deception.” Fraud is an intentional deceptive act designed to provide the perpetrator with an unlawful financial gain. Often, the perpetrator of fraud is aware of information that the intended victim is not, allowing the perpetrator to deceive the victim for personal gain. Timesheet or time card fraud is when an employee puts down hours they did not work and collects payment for those hours not worked.
Under New Mexico criminal law, fraud is defined as follows:
“Fraud consists of the intentional misappropriation or taking of anything of value that belongs to another by means of fraudulent conduct, practices or representations” When a person is convicted of fraud, full restitution is usually made a part of the sentence. Under New Mexico criminal law, it is the amount of the value of the property misappropriated or taken that determines the degree of the charges brought and sentences imposed.
It is a fourth degree felony when the value of the property misappropriated or taken is over five hundred dollars($500) but not more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500). A fourth degree felony convictions carry a basic sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
It is a third degree felony when the value of the property misappropriated or taken is over two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) but not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000). A third-degree felony convictions carryss a basic sentence of up to three years in prison and a possible fine of up to $5,000.
It is a second degree felony when the value of the property misappropriated or taken exceeds twenty thousand dollars ($20,000). The basic sentence for most second-degree felonies is up to nine years in prison, plus a maximum fine of $10,000.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
TWO PATHETIC EXCUSES FOR APD CHIEFS
Both APD Chief Harold Medina and former APD Chief Michael Geier are a reflection of what is so very wrong with APD and on so many levels with the refusal APD management to be held accountable for their own conduct, acting like hypocrites and refusing to take full responsivity for their personnel mismanagement decisions.
It is so damn pathetic when Chief Geier said of Edison’s actions:
“In essence, he was creating his own overtime cash register. … I’m embarrassed for the department … I’m appalled … A Deputy Chief receiving that minimal disciplinary action for such major offenses just boggles my mind.”
It was under Chief Geier that APD Spokesman and Officer Simon Dolnick created his own “overtime cash register” and was paid $192,973 because of his overtime pay abuse. When the Police Oversight Agency and Board recommended that Simon Dobick be fired, Geier refused to fire him and instead attempted to implement an overtime pay cap.
It is even more pathetic when APD Chief Harold Medina says in part:
“Up here on the fifth floor of the Police Department, the executive staff, we’re so busy that to go through the fine details of looking through somebody’s timesheets is not something that we’re going to be carving out time for. … it’s very difficult for me to paint a negative brush on Deputy Chief Smathers for being a good leader, respecting his people, listening to his people and believing in his people.”
Medina had no problem of accusing former Chief Geier of cronyism and giving preferential treatment to others when it came to overtime abuse such as Simon Dolbick. Medina even ordered and audit of top department wage earners, but when it came to his Deputy Chief Smather’s, he goes to Smather’s defense and says he was “being a good leader, respecting his people, listening to his people and believing in his people.”
Given what Medina and his executive staff are paid and how top heavy the APD Chief command staff is, it can only be considered negligent personnel management for them not to pay any attention to subordinate staff requests for overtime as they sign off on overtime pay requests that takes seconds, not hours, to review. Medina was also Deputy Chief of Field Services when the Simon Dolbick fiasco occurred and he did nothing to stop it back then.
UNION CONTRACT BIGGEST CAUSE OF ABUSE
APD paying excessive overtime to a few is nothing new and has gone on for years, if not decades. Historically, time and time again, year after year, the temptation to be paid two, three, even four times more a year than what your base pay is by padding hours worked is way too great. Excessive overtime paid is a red flag for abuse of the system and proof of police resource mismanagement.
It is the mandated overtime provisions of the police union contract that has led to APD overtime pay abuse. When you add overtime paid to the base hourly pay mandated under the union contract, the net result is the sworn police can be paid twice or three times as much in base pay and well over $100,000 and upwards of $200,000 a year.
Compounding the problem is that APD sergeants and lieutenants, who are management, are allowed to be part of the union and allowed to claim overtime and be paid time and a half. Simply put, Sergeants and Lieutenants need to be removed from the collective bargaining unit in that they are management and they need to be made at will employees.
Negotiating the removal of sergeants and lieutenants from the police bargaining unit, making them at will and not being required to pay them “overtime” is an essential part of stopping the overtime pay abuse. It would have prevented it in particular with Lieutenant Jim Edison and it would also stop the top-heavy number of sergeants and lieutenants that are always in the top 250 paid city hall employees.
WHITE KNIGHT KELLER NOWHERE TO BE FOUND
When then State Auditor Tim Keller was running for Mayor in 2017, he was swept into office riding on a wave of popularity he orchestrated as State Auditor for combating “waste, fraud and abuse” in government and boldly promising “transparency”. During his successful 2017 campaign for Mayor, Keller promised sweeping changes within APD. Keller promised a national search for a new APD Chief and a return to Community based policing. He proclaimed he was uniquely qualified to be Mayor because of his background.
Absent from Mayor Tim Keller for the last 4 years is any real acknowledgement of what happened on his watch and under his handpicked appointed Chiefs of Geier and Medina when it comes to the overtime pay abuses. Absent is Keller holding them accountable for their failures.
There have been no press conferences from Keller he is known for to announce what he intends to do about the APD overtime pay abuses. There has never been any statements nor even a commitment by Keller to adopt and implement all the recommendations made by the audits to prevent waste, fraud and abuse of police overtime. This coming from former State Auditor Tim Keller who made his reputation of being a “white knight” who combated “waste, fraud and abuse” and was swept into office in part because of that reputation.
CIVIL COLLECTION ACTIONS AND CRIMNAL CHARGES IN ORDER
Time card fraud in the private sector costs businesses billions of dollars in lost revenues and profits and is usually dealt very swiftly both civilly and criminally, with termination and criminal charges, but that is simply not the case when it comes to Albuquerque City Hall. The overtime gaming system by APD must be stopped, but that will never happen unless and until city hall and the Mayor’s office actually takes it serious. City and State Audits are worthless and useless and exercises in futility unless they are relied upon to take aggressive follow up action.
Despite all the city and state audits on APD overtime pay abuses and extensive findings of fraudulent conduct, not once has the city ever initiated civil collection actions to recover fraudulent overtime paid. At a bare minimum, the City Attorney needs make demand for reimbursement of the pay or initiate civil collection action for reimbursement of fraudulent overtime paid.
Despite repeated referrals to the New Mexico Attorney General of audits revealing overtime pay fraud, not once has the New Mexico Attorney General ever brought criminal charges. If the Attorney General is incapable, unable or simply unwilling to initiate any criminal actions, he needs to make that known and refer the overtime abuse to the Bernalillo County District Attorney. Not once has the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office been asked by the Mayor’s Office to step in and investigate time card fraud by the Albuquerque Police Department.
The fact that criminal action is never brought by prosecutors for time card fraud gives a sense of security to city employees and allows them to ignore personnel rules and regulations and to commit overtime pay card fraud. One guaranteed way of stopping anyone within APD from gaming the system is to abolish the existing system of overtime pay. Until the APD salary structure is changed, APD will always have sergeants and lieutenants making two, three and even four times their base salary.
A link to a related blog article is here: