On October 7, APD Chief Harold Medina announced at a news conference new incentive pay bonuses for police officers who have been on the force 19 years or more, and who are eligible for retirement. They will be paid as much as $18,000 more per year, or $1,500 more a month. In addition, the department will pick up 100% of the officers’ medical benefits.
The additional $18,000 more a year in incentive pay for 19 year veterans will be paid in addition to the $16,380 annual longevity pay already being paid to police officers with 18 years or more of police service. According to APD Chief Medina the incentive pay is necessary to stop the number of officers resigning or retiring which cannot be offset by the number of new recruits entering the department.
APD has also extended existing hiring bonuses for incoming police officers through January 6, 2023. Those include $10,000 extra for police cadets, $15,000 for lateral officers, and $1,500 for police service aides. City employees can also be paid a bonus if they recruit new officers. The city is paying a “finders fee” of $2,500 to people who bring a police cadet on board, $2,500 for those who find a successful lateral hire, and $1,000 for employees who help bring on a public service aide.
It was on February 4 that that the Mayor Tim Keller administration announced that it has negotiated a new union contract with the Albuquerque police union that raised APD sworn officer pay after one year of probation to over $68,000 per year. The new 2-year contract raised police pay across all ranks by 8% and increased “longevity pay” by 5%. Under the new police contract announced in February, APD’s wages are well above cities and law enforcement agencies of comparable size including Tucson, Arizona at $54,517, and El Paso, Texas at $47,011. The new APD contract keeps APD starting wages slightly higher than the New Mexico State Police.
RATIONAL GIVEN FOR ADDTIONAL INCENTIVE PAY
According to APD Chief Medina the incentive pay is necessary to stop the number of officers resigning or retiring which cannot be offset by the number of new recruits entering the department. Under the state’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), the retirement program for law enforcement is one of the best in the country. Police officers can retire after 20 years earning as much as 75% of their average high 3 wage years pay and with 25 years, 90%. APD is having a very difficult time keeping police officers past 20 years of service, with most just retiring and starting new careers or going to work for another law enforcement agency. The goal of the latest incentive is to keep employing the more experienced APD officers.
APD also has extended existing hiring bonuses for incoming police officers through January 6, 2023. Those include $10,000 extra for police cadets, $15,000 for lateral officers, and $1,500 for police service aides. City employees can also earn extra money if they recruit new officers. The city is paying a “finder’s fee” of $2,500 to people who bring a police cadet on board. $2,500 is also paid to those who find a successful lateral hire, and $1,000 for employees who help bring on a public service aide.
According to APD officials, the department has seen fewer resignations and fewer terminations in 2022. Last year 97 officers retired from the department. Through September 2022, 45 APD officers have resigned in 2022 compared with 58 in 2021. There have been 44 retirements through Oct. 3, 2022, compared with 91 in 2021. With respect to terminations, APD has fired 5 people this year, as opposed to 8 in 2021.
When Mayor Tim Keller first ran for office in 2017, he campaigned on the promise that he would increase the number of APD sworn officers from the then 850 to 1,200. During the last 5 years Keller has been in office, the number of sworn officers has never exceeded 1,000 and has now dropped to the current 857.
During the October 6, 2022 press conference, Medina said the goal of 1,200 sworn police remains the same but “given the current environment” of recruitment, the focus now is providing comprehensive services with the current roster of 857 officers, as well as boosting the number of people enrolled in the Public Service Aide program and the number of professional staff who support the officers in the field.
APD Chief Harold Medina had this to say about the reasons for the new incentive pay:
“I know when the Mayor took office, we talked about our goal is 1,200 officers. We still would love to get to 1,200 officers, but I’m here today to say that it’s going to be very difficult. … We’re going to do our very best to get to 1,200 officers, and that is our goal, but the reality of it is, in this environment, we may not. And we’re going to take ownership if we don’t, but we’re not just going to talk about we can’t do this, we’re talking about how we’re going to get the job done still. …
We know that officers have a value beyond their 20 years [and] they want to work … We’re trying to find ways to incentivize [them to continue working.] … We’ve had members here with our recruiting team that said [the new benefits] made a different for them, and they’ve decided to stay on the department past 20 years because they see the financial benefit. … It seemed to make a difference the first month, and at the end of the year, we’ll be gauging, we’ll be releasing to the community whether we saw a reduction.”
APD is giving officers who have resign a window of 90 days in which they can ask to be reinstated to their original positions.
INCREASE IN RECRUITING SEEN
Chief Medina said during the October 8 news conference that APD has seen an increase in recruiting since it announced it increased its compliance with the court-mandated settlement agreement with the Department of Justice. Medina said he worked with the DOJ to change policies and processes so as to see a reduction of discipline handed out to officers.
Medina said this:
“You know, departments under a consent decree are not easy places to work for, and I personally try to recruit laterals from surrounding agencies on a consistent basis. … The No. 1 thing that deters them is the fear of our settlement agreement, and we have been working to reduce those fears. …Bottom of FormWe remain committed to reform and trying to find the most sustainable way to move forward and fight crime at the same time.”
WHERE THE MONEY IS COMING FROM
The APD announced $18,000 to be paid to 19-year veterans on the force comes as the state pours millions of dollars into a law enforcement recruitment fund, of which some of that funding is going to APD. In early September, New Mexico announced it would award $8.75 million to the Albuquerque Police Department for recruitment efforts. According to the Governor’s Office, the money was expected to fund upwards 67 new officers at APD. Money for the program comes from a bill passed by New Mexico lawmakers during the 2022 regular session. Earlier the Governor’s Office said roughly $8.5 million remains available in the state fund. Law enforcement agencies who want the money need to apply.
It was on September 9 Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced how much money each participating law enforcement agency would receive to boost their staff. The Albuquerque and Las Cruces Police Departments received the largest share of the funds. Those departments each got $8.75 million, enough for about 67 new officers per department. Lujan Grisham had this to say:
Links to quoted news sources are here:
APD BUDGET AND STAFFING
The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is the largest city budget out of 27 departments. The fiscal year 2023 approved General Fund budget is $255.4 million, which represents an increase of 14.7% or $32.8 million above the fiscal year 2022 level. The approved General Fund civilian count is 665 and the sworn police count is 1,100 for a total of 1,765 full-time positions.
APD’s general fund budget of $255.4 provides funding for 1,100 full time sworn police officers, with the department fully funded for 1,100 sworn police for the past 3 years. However, as of October 7, there are 857 sworn officers in APD. The APD budget provides funding for 1,100 in order to accommodate growth. During APD’s budget review hearing, APD Chief Medina acknowledged that the department will likely not meet that staffing level and the personnel funds will help cover other operating costs.
The APD’s budget was increased to accommodate for an immediate 8% in police pay and another 5% in police pay to begin in July because of the new police union contract. The APD budget provides for a net total increase of $1.2 million in overtime pay to accommodate the police union contract hourly rate increase that went into effect on January 1, 2022.
During the October 7, 2022 news conference, it was reported that APD has 857 sworn officers. This is down from the 917 sworn police number reported on December 6, 2021 to the Federal Court overseeing the consent decree.
As of October 2022, APD has 514 civilian professional staff, 40 public safety aides, 73 911 operators, 23 dispatchers, 41 retired officers that have returned to the department with more than 50 retired officers on contract work for the department. The latest APD cadet class has 26 people in training to become police officers. The upcoming next cadet class is likely to see between 50 to 60 people.
CHIEF HIGH COMMAND TRIPLES IN 4 YEARS UNDER KELLER
During the last 4 years, the APD high command that works directly out of the Chief’s Office went from 3 to 10 full time sworn staff. Those positions are Chief, Superintendent Of Police Reform, Deputy Superintendent of Police Reform, 6 Deputy Chiefs, 1 Chief of Staff. Although APD abolished the ranking of Major that existed 4 years ago, which there were only 4, it has created the new position of “Deputy Commanders” which there are 16. The 16 “Deputy Commander” positions create a whole new level of bureaucracy and management between Commanders and Lieutenants that is highly questionable as to duties and responsibilities other than “assisting” commanders, perhaps as the commander’s drivers and escorts around town.
The hourly pay rate for APD Lieutenants is $45.36 an hour starting July 1, 2022 or $94,348.60. Commanders and Deputy Commanders are at will employees paid upwards of $98,000 a year in base salary and with overtime they can easily earn well over $100,000 a year and as much as $120,000 as evidenced by those listed in the top 250 wage earners for the city.
Eight of 10 APD Chief executive command staff are listed in the top 250 city wage earners. At least 6 of those in the executive command staff have at least 20 years or more service with APD. 8 of the positions are considered “at will employees” and serve at the pleasure of Mayor Keller and are not paid overtime. All 8 are reported to have a received a pay increase upwards of 8% beginning January 1, 2022.
Following are the 8 with pay listed for the full 2021 calendar year:
Medina, Harold, Police Chief Of Police, $177,562.68
Smathers, Michael Jay, 1st Deputy Chief, $149,881.56
Garcia, Eric, 2nd Deputy Chief, $147,444.20
Barker, Cecily, Deputy Chief, $147,201.70
Griego, Jon J , Deputy Chief $144,228.47
Brown, Joshua Deputy Chief, $134,608.38
Lowe, Cori Deputy Chief, $128,409.85
Stanley, Sylvester, Superintendent of Police Reform/DCAO , $123,219.28 (8 months with city and retired and the end of 2021)
APD RETIREMENT PLANS UNDER PERA
APD has one of the most lucrative retirements programs in the country under the Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) plan for municipal police where both city and employee pay into the retirement program. Yearly retirement pay is determined with a formula of age, years of service, and averaging the salaries high 3 years. A percentage of yearly pay is given for each year of service with an age requirement to collect the pension. A sworn police officer with 20 years of service can retire at any age and be paid 75% of their average “high 3 years” of pay. A sworn police officer with 25 years of service can retire at any age and be paid 95% of their average “high 3 years of pay.”
NEW POLICE UNION CONTRACT INCENTIVE PAY REVISTED
On February 4, it was reported that that the Mayor Tim Keller’s administration negotiated a new union contract with the Albuquerque police union that raised starting APD sworn officer pay to over $68,000 per year. The new 2-year contract raised police pay by 8% and increased “longevity pay” by 5%. The new contract also created a whole new category of “incentive pay”.
Under the new contract, APD’s starting wage is well above cities and law enforcement agencies of comparable size including Tucson, Arizona, $54,517, and El Paso, Texas, $47,011. The new APD contract keeps APD starting wages slightly higher than the New Mexico State Police. The 48-page APOA police “Collective Bargaining Agreement” (CBA) is for 1 year and 6 months period. It is effective January 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.
The new CBA can be downloaded as a PDF file at this link:
Under the new contract terms, longevity pay increases by 5% starting on July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year starting at $2,730 per year with those who have 5 years of service and with incremental service years up to 17 years or more who will be paid $16,380.
NEW HOURLY WAGE RATES
First year probationary officers are not covered by the union contract in that they are not union. Starting pay for an APD police officer graduating from the academy and for the officers first year of probation remains the same. They are paid $21.27 an hour for a 40-work week, 52 weeks a year or $44,241.60 yearly.
The cost of training each APD cadet is upwards of $60,000. As it stands, there is no minimum commitment of years for a cadet to work for the city after graduation, meaning they could move on to another law enforcement agency their first year of employment with the city if they want.
“Rank and File” police officers are generally recognized as sworn police officers under the rank of sergeant. Under the union contract sergeant and lieutenants are allowed to join the police union. “RANK AND FILE” HOURLY PAY.
The normal workweek under the contract is defined as 40 hours comprised of either 5 eight hour or 4 ten-hour days. (Page 19 of contract)
Page 6 of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) outlines the new hourly wages negotiated for both rank-and-file officers and sergeants and lieutenants.
Under the union contract, the classification of Police Officer 1C is an officer in the bargaining unit who has completed probation up through 4 years of service as an APD Sworn Officer.
The classification of Senior Police Officer 1C is an officer in the bargaining unit with 5 through 14 years of service as an APD Sworn Officer.
The classification of Master Police Officer 1C is an officer in the bargaining unit with 15 or more years of service as an APD Sworn Officer.
The definition of serve and service is “actual time worked”.
2 TO 4 YEAR SERVICE PAY WENT FROM $60,320 TO $68,411.20 A YEAR
Hourly pay for a Police Officer 1/C (first class) after completing one year of probation and then up through 4 years with the department under the new contract went from $29 and hour or $60,320 yearly to to $32.89 and hour or $68,411.20 a year starting July 1, 2022 until the expiration of the union contract on June 30, 2023.
5 To 14 YEAR SERVICE PAY WENT FROM $62,400 TO $70,761 A YEAR
Hourly pay for a Senior Police Officer 1/c (first class) with 5 to 14 years of service goes under the new contract went from $30 an hour or $62,400 a year to $34.02 an hour or $70,761.60 a year starting July 1, 2022 until the expiration of the union contract on June 30, 2023.
15 OR MORE YEARS SERVICE PAY WENT FROM $65,520 TO $74, 297 A YEAR
Hourly pay for a Master Police Officer 1/c (first class) with 15 years and above of service went from $31.50 an hour or $65,520 a year to $35.72 an hour or $74,297 a year starting July 1, 2022 until the expiration of the union contract on June 30, 2023.
SARGEANT PAY WENT FROM $72,800 TO $82,533 A YEAR
Hourly pay for APD Sergeants under the new contract went from $35 an hour or $72,800 a year to $39.69 an hour or $82,555.20 a year starting July 1, 2022 until the expiration of the union contract on June 30, 2023.
LIEUTENANT PAY WENT FROM $83,200 TO $94,348 A YEAR
Hourly pay for Lieutenants under the new contract went from $40 an hour or $83,200 a year to $45.36 an hour starting July 1, 2022, $94,348.60 a year until the expiration of the contract on June 30, 2023.
LONGEVITY PAY INCREASES
APD sworn police officers are paid “longevity pay” in addition to their yearly pay. On page 9 of the new police union contract, longevity “years” is defined as the completed years of service identified by the City and documented by an officer that an officer has served as a sworn public safety officer in any United States jurisdiction in good standing, excluding military police, and for time with APD shall be complete year(s) from the date an officer achieves P2C status or if a higher rank as a lateral. Special circumstances under the contract does create exceptions to this rule. The definition of serve and service is “actual time worked”.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Under the union contract, lateral transfers from other departments are given credit for their years of service to the other department and are paid the longevity pay as if they had worked for APD. APD also pays lateral transfers “sign on” bonuses of $15,000 in an effort to attract experienced police officers.
APS sworn qualify for longevity pay in their fifth year of service. Under the new contract terms, longevity pay starts at $2,730 per year and increases topping of at $16,380 annually for those who have served 17 or more years.
CATEGORIES OF LONGEVITY PAY
The negotiated longevity pay under the new union contract deals with the overlap of 3 fiscal years. A fiscal year begins on July 1 of any given year and ends on June 30 of the following year. The longevity pay rates can be found on page 8 and 9 of the new union contract.
For fiscal year 2022 – 2023 that began on July 1 the longevity pay scale bi-weekly annual amounts are as follows:
Beginning Year 5 through 5, $105 paid bi weekly, $2,730 annually
Beginning Year 6 through 6, $131 paid bi weekly, $3,406 annually
Beginning Year 7 through 9, $236 paid bi weekly, $6,136 annually
Beginning Year 10 through 12, $315 paid bi weekly, $8,190 annually
Beginning Year 13 through 15, $368 paid bi weekly, $9,568 annually
Beginning Year 16 through 17, $473 paid bi weekly, $12,298 annually
Beginning Year 18 and above, $630 paid bi weekly, $16,380 annually
LIST OF 250 TOP CITY HALL WAGE EARNERS
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 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.
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 top paid 250 highest paid wage earnings employed by the city reveals 160 of 250 top paid city hall employees were APD sworn police who were paid between $107,885.47 to $199,666.40.
For the calendar year of 2021, 126 of the top 250 city hall wage earners were APD sworn police officers ranging from the rank of patrol officer 1st class to the rank of Lieutenant. In 2019, there were 70 APD patrol officers in the list of 250 top paid employees earning pay ranging from $108,167 to $188,844. There were 32 APD lieutenants and 32 APD sergeants in the list of 250 top paid employees earning pay ranging from $108,031 to $164,722.
In 2020, there were 69 patrol officers paid between $110,680 to $176,709. 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 City of Albuquerque updated the list for the year 2021. According to the list of the top 250 city hall wage earners, they were paid between $119,356.16 to $211,144.75. 146 of those 250 listed positions are assigned to APD.
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.
COURT APPROVED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
On April 10, 2014, the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), issued its report of the 18-month civil rights investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). The DOJ reviewed excessive use of force and deadly force cases and found that APD engaged in a “pattern and practice” of unconstitutional “use of force” and “deadly force” and found a “culture of aggression” within APD. On November 27, 2014, the City and the Department of Justice entered into the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandating 276 reforms. APD is one of 18 municipalities in the United States under a Federal Court consent decree for excessive use of force and deadly force. The link to the CASA is here:
Within months after being sworn in on January 1, 2018, Mayor Tim Keller affirmed his commitment to implement all the DOJ mandated reforms agreed to under the CASA. Mayor Keller began implementing an $88 million-dollar APD police expansion program over a four-year period over increasing the number of sworn police officers from 898 positions filled to 1,200, or by 302 sworn police officers. The massive investment was ordered by Mayor Tim Keller to full fill his 2017 campaign promise to complete all the CASA reforms, increase the size of APD and return to community-based policing as a means to reduce the city’s high crime rates.
COMMENTARY AND ANAYSIS
APD Chief Harold Medina diverting legislative funding APD applied for and which was specifically allocated by the New Mexico legislature for “recruitment” and hiring of 67 APD Cops and then turning around and using it to pay APD 19 years of service veterans and additional $18,000 in incentive pay is so very wrong on so many levels. It does not pass the smell test and it is akin to a “bait and switch” scam tactic by APD. Medina did not disclose if he will benefit himself financially.
In all likely, Chief Medina has abused his authority or discretion by violating the spirit and intent of the state funding allocation. APD had to apply for the funding and in doing so likely made the representation it would be used for “recruitment and hiring” with no mention that it would be used to pay incentive bonuses. Incentive bonuses of $18,000 paid to 19-year APD veterans are not “recruitment and hiring”.
In February when the new 2-year APD contract was announced, the 8% pay raise and the increased “longevity pay” of 5% was justified by saying APD needed to be more competitive to attract and retain new sworn police officers. All other city employees received meager pay raises of 2.5% under the enacted 2022-2023 city budget.
It is difficult to understand and to justify paying 20-year law enforcement veterans an additional $18,000 more a year plus paying 100% of the officers’ medical benefits when those officers are also being paid $16,380 annually in longevity pay on top pf 8% pay raises resulting in a whopping $34,380 of incentive pay in one year
WHO WILL BENEFIT NOT DISCLOSED
APD Chief Harold Medina and all of his deputies are listed in the 250 top paid city hall employees and are paid between $128,409.85 to $177,562.68 a year. Medina did not disclose if he and his high command will be paid the $18,000 in additional incentive pay. Medina has retired before from APD and has upwards of 30 years of service years. At least 4 of the Deputy Chiefs also are eligible to retire with over 20 years of service or more and Medina did not disclose if they will be given the additional $18,000.
APD Chief Harold Medina did not disclose exactly how many APD police officers who have 19 years of experience will actually qualify for the additional $18,000 in incentive pay. Paying so much more to 20-year veterans is an attempt to keep employing an older generation of officer when what the city and APD really needs is a new, younger generation of police officer do the work and who have their entire law enforcement career ahead of them.
Since 2014, APD has been under a Federal Court Order after the Department of Justice found APD had engaged in excessive use of force and deadly force and finding a culture of aggression within APD. The 2013 DOJ investigation essentially found it was “experienced police officers”, which would include APD management and APD Chief Harold Medina, that created, participated and was aware of or who did not stop the culture of aggression within APD. Now Chief Medina wants to pay those very same officers and additional $18,000 a year to keep them from retiring when they should probably just move on.
Simply put, police work is a young person’s profession that is both mentally, emotionally and physically demanding. APD needs a new, younger generation of police officer who accept and are trained on constitutional policing practices and who do not resist the reforms mandated by the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).
MILLIONS AVAILABLE IN UNFILLED SWORN POLICE OFFICER FUNDING
The fiscal year 2023 approved General Fund budget for APD is $255.4 million, which represents an increase of 14.7% or $32.8 million above the fiscal year 2022 level. The APD approved budget fully funds 1,100 sworn police in order to accommodate growth, yet the department currently employs only 857 sworn police. In other words, APD has 243 full time positions that are fully funded that are vacant.
Starting pay for an APD police officer graduating from the academy and for the officers first year of probation is $21.27 an hour for a 40-work week, 52 weeks a year or $44,241.60 yearly. Therefore 243 vacant starting pay salaries for sworn police at $44,241.60 translates into $10,750,708 of potential unused salary funding.
During APD’s 2022-2023 budget review hearing, APD Chief Medina acknowledged that the department will likely not meet the 1,100-staffing level and said personnel funds for unfilled potions will cover other operating costs. During the April 28 budget hearing, Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis questioned APD for more information on its budgeting strategy on using unspent sworn police officers’ salaries for other priorities. Lewis said this:
“I think it’s good for us to understand this is not a budget that [actually] funds 1,100 police officers. … We’re going to give you [funding for] 1,100 officers this year. We’re going to fund [the amount] just like we did last year. We’re continuing to do that, but I think at the very least what this council is going to need and want is a very specific breakdown of where those salary savings went because we didn’t hire those officers.”
The approved 2022-2023 APD budget of $255.4 million covers the continuation of the 8% pay increase that went into effect in January and then covers the additional 5%, for a total of 13% in APD sworn police raises that starts on July 1. 2022.
INCREASE NEW CADET HIRING BONUSES TO $25,000 WITH 5 YEAR COMMITMENT
After working a full 20 years, police officers who usually continue to work do so out of sure love of the job and their dedication to public service. Medina wants to pay additional incentive on the “back end” of police officer careers who are eligible for retirement. Incentive pay should be paid “on the front end” of a career to attract and keep a new generation of police officer.
It costs the city upwards of $60,000 a year to fully train a new police officer in the academy. Once trained, there is no minimum number of years that an officer must work. APD and recruiting efforts would be better served if more is offered as sign on bonuses. As it stands, APD is paying $10,000 for new police cadet sign on bonuses. What should be offered are $25,000 in new cadet bonuses with a 5-year minimum service commitment.
Simply put, APD is awash in excessive unused personnel funding. There is no reasonable excuse for Medina to divert funding given to the city by the state for recruitment and hiring of police officers and then to turn around and dole it out to pay $18,000 more in incentive pay to 19-year veterans, not when millions of vacant personnel funding is available. It’s Medina’s gross mismanagement of human resources at best and his incompetence at worse with an element of sure greed thrown in for good measure.