On July 1, it was reported that APD Lieutenant Jim Edison who was fired in November 2021 for overtime pay abuse has been reinstated by the city at the same rank pursuant to a settlement reach between Edison and the City. Edison had been with the department for 14 years. He was terminated after an Internal Affairs investigations found he had claimed more overtime hours than he had worked, that he lied to investigators and that he retaliated against the supervisor who initiated the investigation into his conduct. Edison appealed his termination by APD alleging he did nothing wrong and that he was entitled to the overtime claimed and paid.
Lieutenant Jim Edison’s alleged overtime pay abuse dates back to early 2020 during the first days of the pandemic. At the time, 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. When he was transferred to the Homeland Security Division, his new commander raised questions about the hours he was claiming.
KRQE NEWS 13 INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
According to a March 14, 2021, KRQE 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 $186,944 in 2020 and $173,672 in 2021. In 2020, more than $95,000 was paid in overtime.
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. KRQE reported that 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
According to payroll records reviewed by KRQ, 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 emails at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and then claim call-out overtime.
Examples of Edison’s overtime pay claims that were found by 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: 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 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 questionable 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.
The link to the entire KRQE investigative report is here:
A link to a related blog article is here:
WHAT THE INTERNAL AFFAIRS INVESTIGATION FOUND
The Internal Affairs investigation found that Lieutenant Jim Edison was frequently claiming 2 hours or more of overtime for any task he did outside of work hours. An example given is that he would send a master spreadsheet of COVID-19 numbers to his supervisor every morning around 3 a.m. and claim two hours of overtime when the actual time worked was routinely under half an hour. The Internal Affairs investigator concluded that “overall, Lt. Edison could have combined work or completed [his work] during his shift to cut down on overtime.”
The Internal Affairs investigation found that:
“the department failed to adequately re-address and supervise Lt. Edison’s behavior in January 2021 and February 2021, which allowed Lt. Edison to continue to violate the same and additional policy violations.”
Internal Affairs also found that Deputy Chief Michael Smathers failed to ensure Edison was correctly coding his overtime hours and failed to identify that what he was claiming was not within department policy. Smathers received an 8-hour suspension and a letter of reprimand.
CITY SETTLEMENT TERMS WITH EDISON
Edison appealed his termination and reached a settlement agreement with the city in May. Edison’s private Attorney Tim White said Edison was reinstated and has been assigned to the Aviation Department.
Edison threatened to file a lawsuit against the city for wrongful discharge and retaliation based on alleged violations of his civil rights and the New Mexico Whistleblower Protection Act.
The major terms of the settlement agreement negotiated with the city include the following:
1. The city agreed to withdrew its decision to terminate Edison and removed the discipline from his record.
2. Although Edison returned to the department as a lieutenant, he agreed to “self-demote” in the next several months and undergo an audit of his previous pay records to determine whether he was overpaid. No later than November 18 Edison will “voluntarily and irrevocably demote to the rank of sergeant or to patrol officer” and he will not be eligible for any promotions.
3. Instead of the 120-hour and 80-hour suspension he was initially handed, Edison will serve a 96-hour suspension with 16 hours held in abeyance for six months as long as he isn’t subject to further discipline.
4. The city agreed to pay all of Edison’s his back pay since the date of his termination and will pay Edison an additional $20,000. At the time of his termination Edison was paid $40 an hour or $83,200 a year. According to the city’s transparency portal, Edison is now making $43.20 per hour and has earned more than $50,000 so far this year which includes his back pay.
5. The city will conduct an independent audit of Edison’s pay records from February 2020 through May 21, 2021, and “determine whether his claims for overtime were consistent with the law.” If the audit determines Edison was overpaid “the city will first confer with employee for reimbursement and may thereafter pursue collection of overpaid amounts through appropriate judicial process.” If the audit finds that Edison was underpaid, he will be paid as required by the CBA.
6. Edison “retains all rights to deny audit findings and to oppose reimbursement for any reason.”
7. Edison denies he committed any misconduct, and the city denies all allegations he had raised against it.
The link to the quoted news source material is here:
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.”
POLICE UNION CONTRACT PROVISIONS OF OVERTIME PAY
In October 2021 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. After Edison was terminated for retaliation against a supervisor, Chief Harold Medina said that Edison “wasn’t exactly breaking the law” when it came to the overtime claimed and paid and that he was taking advantage of the union collective bargaining contract.
Under the police 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.” 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.
Following is the exact language of the police union contract:
3.2.1 Employees shall be entitled to overtime compensation at the rate of time-and-one-half their regular straight-time rate when they perform work in excess of forty (40) hours in any one workweek.
220.127.116.11 The workweek shall consist of seven (7) consecutive days beginning at 0001 each Saturday, or the tour starting the nearest to that time.
18.104.22.168 The workday will be any regularly scheduled, consecutive twenty-four-hour period beginning at the start of the employees regularly assigned shift.
22.214.171.124 In accordance with Subsection 2.5 (FLSA) of this Agreement, the workdays, days off and start times of the shifts will be fixed and will not vary from week to week. The bid will include a variety of work schedules for the four (4) day workweek. A number of work schedules will include a schedule of one (1) start time for two (2) days and another start time for the other two (2) days. Additionally, a number of the schedules will include a schedule of one start time for three (3) days and another time for the other day.
3.3.1 Time worked over 40 hours per week will be compensated at 1-1/2 times the officer’s regular rate of pay, or in the form of compensatory time. Compensatory time will be computed at the rate of 1-1/2 times the hours actually worked. The maximum accrual of comp time for any officer, including Aviation Police, is 150 hours.
3.3.2 Upon separation of employment from the Albuquerque Police Department and Aviation, an officer is limited to cash-out of no more than forty (40) hours of unused comp time at straight time pay. Any accrual of comp time over forty (40) hours must be used 6 months prior to separation.
The 48 page APOA police “Collective Bargaining Agreement” (CBA) with a 3 page addendum can be down loaded as a PDF file at this link:
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING UNIT UNDER POLICE UNION CONTRACT
On December 30, 2021, the Mayor Tim Keller Administration signed off on a collective bargaining agreement with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) for the time period of effective January 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023. The collective bargaining agreement is identical in terms and conditions to the expired contract except as to pay rates.
Three sections of the police union contract are worth noting. Those sections are:
“ 1.3.1 The APOA is recognized as the Exclusive Representative for regular full time, non-probationary police officers through the rank of Lieutenants in the APD … .
1.3.2. The City of Albuquerque extends to the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association representing such unit of employees the following rights:
126.96.36.199 To represent the employees in negotiations and in the settlement of grievances.
188.8.131.52 To exclusive representation status during the term of this agreement as provided in the Employee Relations Ordinance.
Term of the Agreement, This Agreement shall become effective on the first full pay period following ratification by the rank-and-file membership, approval by the Mayor, and signature by the parties, and shall remain in full force and effect through June 30, 2020.”
The link to the “Collective Bargaining Agreement” can be downloaded as a PDF file at this link:
Note that paragraph 1.3.1 of the union contract provides that 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 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 collective bargaining agreement between the city and the police union includes patrol officers, detectives, sergeants and lieutenants provides that when officers are called into work outside of regular hours they are guaranteed pay for a minimum of two hours at the rate of time and a half.
POLICE UNION CONTRACT VIOLATES NEW MEXICO PUBLIC EMPLOYEES BARGAINING ACT
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:
Simply put, the provision of the APD police union contract that provides that the Albuquerque Police Officers association is the exclusive representative for regular full time, non-probationary police officers through the rank of Lieutenants in the APD violates the provision of New Mexico Collective Bargaining Act that provides that public employee, other than management employees … may form, join or assist a labor organization. APD Sergeants and Lieutenants by their very definitions, duties and responsibilities are management positions, yet they are allowed to be part of the police union that represents them during union contract negotiation and in the settlement of grievances meaning personnel disciplinary actions.
Approximately 16 years ago, then APD police captains were allowed to join the police union and that was deemed as unacceptable in that they were management. The positions of Captain were reclassified and re named Commanders and were excluded from union membership and further made at will positions. The biggest rational for no longer allowing Captains nor Commanders from being members of the union is that they are management, and inherent conflict of interests exists when management is allowed to be part of the union.
SPECIAL AUDIT REPORT RELEASED
On Friday, August 6, 2021, a long-awaited special audit report on overtime abuse by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) was released by the New Mexico State Auditor. The 64-page audit covered the time period of January 1, 2018 to June 30, 2020. According to the audit, it was the 7th audit performed on APD overtime practices since 2014. The prior 6 audits resulted in 17 findings and recommendation made.
The audit reported that there was an absolute failure to carry out and implement the changes needed to solve the overtime problem. The audits further identify that certain APD police union contract terms and conditions violated the Federal Labor Fair Standards act and that the union contract has contributed significantly to the overtime pay abuse by rank-and-file police officers.
The link to the entire 64-page audit report is here:
LIETENANT JIM EDISON FOLLOWS IN THE FOOTSTEPS 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 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).
Excessive overtime billing has been a persistent problem at APD. Since 2014, seven audits or investigations have examined the issue and found deficiencies in the way the city tracks overtime and corrects officers who may be taking advantage of the system.
LISTING OF 250 TOP PAID CITY HALL EMPLOYEES
Edison and Dolbrik are not the only one who have learned to double and even triple their yearly pay with time and a half overtime. 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 were paid time and a half for overtime pay.
Police officers first class, senior police officer’s 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 timecard 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.
The 6-figure compensation being paid to sworn police can be attributed directly to “overtime” paid. There are nearly a dozen different types of overtime programs within 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. 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 and has a mandatory 2-hour minimum overtime charge for court appearances even if less time is worked.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Police officers earning excessive overtime is nothing new. It has been going on for years and is very common knowledge. 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. Excessive overtime paid is a red flag for abuse of the system, mismanagement of police resources or the lack of personnel.
During the last 10 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. For the last 3 years, APD has exceeded its overtime budget by as much as $4 million or more each year. In 2019, APD spent $11.5 million paying sworn police overtime when the budget was $9 million.
RESTRUCTURE 40 HOUR APD PAY SYSTEM TO SALARY PAY SYSTEM
As an alternative to paying overtime and longevity bonus, 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 workload 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.
REMOVE LIEUTENANTS AND SERGEANTS FROM UNION
APD Lieutenants and Sergeants, and Patrol Officers are all are “classified” positions and can only be terminated for cause. APD Lieutenants and Sergeants are included in the police collective bargaining unit. Any and all disciplinary actions taken against APD Lieutenants and Sergeants are governed by the union contract. They have “due process rights” including progressive disciplinary actions and rights of appeal.
APD Lieutenants and Sergeants are on the front-line management that oversee those officers who serve under their command. APD Lieutenants and Sergeants are primarily responsible for making sure that all Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) are followed and further it is they that must review and approve overtime. The excessive overtime paid over the years to rank and file police is a reflection of Lieutenants and Sergeants not doing their jobs of oversight and prevention of overtime abuse.
Instead of enforcing limitations on overtime and preventing the overtime abuse, many sergeants and lieutenants simply participate in excessive overtime pay practices themselves and likely approved all overtime submitted by their subordinates to keep them happy and to maintain a working relationship with them and to garner favor with them.
Simply put, under the New Mexico collective bargaining act, APD Sergeants and Lieutenants are public management employees, and they should be prohibited from joining the police union. Its Labor Law 101 that federal law prohibits management from joining unions. Simply put the police union contract violates state law when it allows the management positions of Lieutenants and Sergeants to be part of the union.
APD Lieutenants and Sergeants need to be removed from the collective bargaining unit and made at will employees and paid yearly salaries and not hourly pay. This is essential from a management standpoint so that they can be held accountable for failure to act and failure to oversee those they are responsible for and not become part of the problem. There is a built-in conflict with Lieutenants and Sergeants being part of the union and being torn between management policies and procedures and union priorities that are a complete opposite to management priorities.
CITY HALL FOLDS LIKE CHEAP SUITE
City and State Audits are worthless and an exercise in futility unless they are relied upon to take aggressive follow up action. The overtime gaming system by APD sworn personnel must be stopped, but that will never happen unless and until city hall and the mayor’s office takes it seriously. All too often City Hall folds like a cheap suite by terminating an employee for violation of personnel rules and regulations, as is the case with overtime pay abuses, only to turn around months later to reinstate and pay backpay wages when the employee appeals a termination.
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 overtime paid that can be proven as fraudulent.
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 timecard fraud by the Albuquerque Police Department.
The fact that criminal action is never brought by prosecutors for timecard 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.
ENACT CHANGES TO CITY PERSONNEL RULES AND REGULATIONS
The Keller Administration and the City Council need to act and take steps to remove Lieutenants and Sergeants from the police bargaining unit. They need to be made “at will employees” in order to conform with state law and federal law that prohibits management from joining the police union. The Albuquerque City Council can enact a resolution that states it is city policy that Lieutenants and sergeants are management positions and under state law are not permitted to join a union. Otherwise, overtime pay abuse and gaming of the overtime pay will continue as it has for so many years.
On July 6 the Albuquerque Journal published the following editorial:
Editorial headline: Rehiring troubled Lt. raises APD union issues
BY ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD
PUBLISHED: WEDNESDAY, JULY 6TH, 2022 AT 12:02AM
UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, JULY 6TH, 2022 AT 12:15AM
There are multiple reasons lieutenants (and sergeants) shouldn’t be in the union that represents APD to the city.
One example is Lt. Jim Edison.
Edison, fired in mid-November after internal investigations found he claimed more overtime hours than he worked, is back on the force. As a leader, he should be setting an example for other officers and held to a higher standard.
Instead, it appears he gamed the city’s collective bargaining agreement like few others, raking in a whopping $224,000 from April 2020 to April 2021. That followed $173,672 in 2021 and $186,944 in 2020. His regular pay is $43.20/hour.
Once discovered, an APD spokesman said Edison was untruthful about his OT and retaliated against the supervisor who initiated the investigation.
Edison did not go quietly as a member of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association. He appealed his termination, reached a settlement agreement with the city in May and is now working in APD’s Aviation Department. Chief Harold Medina says Edison “wasn’t exactly breaking the law; he was taking advantage of the CBA.” Union membership does have its privileges.
City Councilor Louie Sanchez, a former APD officer, has asked how an APD lieutenant with 14 years of experience can be trusted to enforce the law and testify truthfully in court when he cannot truthfully fill out a time sheet? We would add how can he be trusted to mold younger officers, set a tone for accountability and help lead the department?
Edison did a huge disservice to the majority of APD pros who obey and enforce the letter of the law — rank and file, as well as the brass.
He should not be able to use the union contract to cover his tracks and stay on the force. It’s a long-simmering issue the city needs to revisit when the CBA — which represents officers, lieutenants and sergeants — comes up for renegotiation.