The blog article is an in-depth report on the millions of overtimes paid to a select few police and fire responders over the past 4-years all under the watch of Mayor Tim Keller and the City Council. The blog article is longer than most blog articles in order to get a clear and concise picture of what has been going on within the Albuquerque Police Department and the Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Department and abuse of overtime pay.
BACKGROUND ON CITY PERSONNEL
The City of Albuquerque employs upwards of 5,947 City Hall employees that are divided into “classified employees” and “unclassified employees”. The city has 26 separate departments that provide essential services.
Classified employees are covered by the city’s personnel rules and regulations and have vested rights including retirement benefits, sick leave and annual leave benefits and can only be terminated for cause. Disciplinary actions such as suspensions, demotions and terminations can be appealed by classified employees to the City Personnel Board.
The City of Albuquerque pays an average of $17.61 an hour to City Hall employees or $36,628.80 a year depending on the positions held and required education level and training levels. (40-hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $17.61 paid hourly = $36,628.80)
UNCLASSIFIED VERSUS CLASSIFIED
There are 589 full time “unclassified” positions at City Hall, who are “at-will” employees who can be terminated “without cause”. They work at the pleasure of the Mayor, the City Council or Department Directors. “Unclassified employees” or exempt employees do not have the same vested rights classified employees have. They have no appeal rights to the City Personnel Board for disciplinary action so when they are fired, they are in fact terminated with little or no recourse.
All City Hall Department Directors are “unclassified employees” and serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and can be terminated without cause. City Department Directors as “at will employees” are paid yearly salaries but their salaries are broken down in hourly rates only for payroll purposes. The average pay for Department Directors under Keller averaged $116,000 but after 5 years, it is now $160,000 a year depending on experience and background. The 27 Department Directors are not paid time and a half when they work more than a 40-hour work week.
TOP CITY HALL WAGE EARNERS
At the end of each calendar year, City Hall releases the top 250 wage earners based on hourly wages paid. The list of 250 top city hall wages earners is what is paid for the full calendar year of January 1, to December 31 of any given year. The City of Albuquerque has 26 separate departments. It is the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and the Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Department (AFRD) that have the overwhelming majority of assigned hourly wage employees in the top 250 city hall wage earners. 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 on top of base pay to sworn police officers and firefighters. Police and Fire first responders are paid longevity pay and police are paid bonus pay, but such pay are not included in the base hourly pay for purposes of calculating the top 250 wage earners.
2022 BREAKDOWN OF 250 TOP PAID CITY HALL EMPLOYEES
Hourly pay for an APD Police Officer is between $29 an hour right out of the APD Academy, or $60,320 yearly. According to the police union contract, the hourly pay rate for a police officer is $31.50 an hour or $65,520 yearly, depending on the accumulated years of service. The hourly pay rate for APD Sergeants is $35 an hour, or $72,800 a year. The hourly pay rate for APD Lieutenants is $40.00 an hour or $83,200 a year.
In 2022, the breakdown of the 250 top paid city hall employees reveals they were paid between $124,540.80 to $235,992.53. APD has 143 of the top paid 250 wage earners employed that include Patrol Officers First Class, Senior Police Officers, Master Police Officers, Sergeants and Lui tenants. Lieutenants, although management, are allowed to be members of the Police Union and are entitled to be paid time and a half for overtime. The Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Department has 51 of the top 250 spots. No other city department has more than 7 people in the top paid 250 list.
The amounts paid to the overwhelming majority APD and AFRD personnel in the top 250 city hall employees are double and at times triple the hourly yearly wage of those employees. The excess in wages earned is directly attributed to overtime paid to those employees who are in classified positions.
Albuquerque Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Clinton Anderson is the top wage earner in 2022 having been paid $235,993 last year. The amount paid to Anderson is more than twice his base salary. Six fire department employees ranked among the city’s 10 biggest earners in 2022. The list includes 4 AFRD paramedic lieutenants. Each earned at least $191,000 despite a base salary of $79,000.
The Albuquerque Police Department has only 6 employees among the city’s 20 highest-paid workers. APD Lt. Justin Hunt with a base pay of $83,200 a year was paid $217,646 because of overtime.
TOP 50 PAID CITY HALL EMPLOYEES IDENTIFIED
The 50 top paid City Hall employees, their assigned department, their titles, number of hours worked per week where specified and pay in the list 250 are as follows:
Anderson, Clinton L, FD Fire Battalion Chief, 40 HR work week listed: $235,992.53
Hunt,Justin APD Police Lieutenant: $217,646.45
Ruelas,James L, FD Fire Paramedic Lieutenant – 56 HR work week listed $216,214.60
Rael,Lawrence D, Chief Administrative Officer, $212,143.20J
Johnson,Brian, APD-Police Sergeant, $211,910.59
Medina,Harold, APD Chief Of Police, $204,023.40
Herrera,Robert, Fire Paramedic Lieutenant – 40 HR work week listed $196,302.72
Do,Si Fire Paramedic Driver – 40 HR work week listed, $193,550.10
Tapia,Jacob Fire Paramedic Lieutenant – 40 HR work week listed $191,713.61
Ruiz,Thomas Fire Paramedic Lieutenant – 40 HR work week listed $191,486.71
Deal,Craig Fire Captain – 40 HR $189,928.60
Longdon,Jonathan -Fire Paramedic Lieutenant – 40 HR work week listed $187,974.67
Montero,Alex Fire Battalion Chief – 56 HR work week listed $186,215.18
Martinez,Dominic – APD Police Sergeant $184,381.03
Hernandez,Michael – APD Police Lieutenant $184,257.71
Webb,Zachary Fire Paramedic Lieutenant – 40 HR work week listed $184,195.20
Ortiz,Christopher Fire Paramedic Battalion Chief – 40 HR work week listed $182,148.07
Price,Bryan – Police Lieutenant $176,946.42
Pholphiboun,Phetamphone B, APD Police Sergeant $176,610.22
Dalton-Theodore, Maia, Fire AFR Behavioral Health Director $175,347.20
Bhakta,SanjayFA-Finance Admin Svc Chief Financial Officer $175,233.60
Garcia,Eric APD 2nd Deputy Chief $174,729.82
Rosenbaum,NilsPD- APD Dir of Behavioral Sciences $174,454.40
Laprise,Robert TFD-Fire Paramedic Captain – 42 HR work week listed $173,519.63
Meisner,Nathaniel AFD-Fire Deputy Fire Chief – 40 HR work week listed $172,979.53
Molina,Sonny APD Police Sergeant $172,208.49
Gallegos,Gene, Fire Chief – 40 HR work week listed $171,493.24
Griego,Jon APD Police Deputy Chief $171,079.75
Hernandez,Francisco APD Police Sergeant $169,286.04
Hernandez,Armando F., APD Police Sergeant $168,600.21
Valentino,Gregory Allen, APD Police Officer 1C $168,499.16
Osterloh,Brian ATI-Technology and Innovation Director $168,168.15
Smathers,Michael Jay, APD 1st Deputy Police Chief $165,823.72
Melendrez,Christopher, City Council Services Director $165,796.80
Del Greco,Raymond, Police Lieutenant $165,646.46
Walsh,Stephen APD Police Master Police Officer 1C $165,330.99
Chavez,Jose Fire Paramedic Driver – 40 HR work week listed $164,350.38
Pearson, Nicholas, Police Master Police Officer 1C $163,193.49
Solis,Brenda, Police Master Police Officer 1C $163,112.69
Chavez,Matthew, Police Lieutenant $162,831.78
Brown,Joshua APD Deputy Chief $162,060.72
Lopez,Daniel APD Police Sergeant $161,900.18
Rico,Michael APD Police Sergeant $161,039.09
Castillo,David Fire Battalion Chief – 56 HR work week listed $160,892.65
Richards,Joshua R., APD Police Sergeant $160,848.95
Barker,Cecily APD Police Deputy Chief $160,715.20
Romero,Kristopher -Fire Deputy Fire Chief – 40 HR $160,628.48
Lowe, Cori, APD Police Deputy Chief $159,775.00
Sedler,Amy APD Police Lieutenant $158,945.28
Patterson,Christopher APD-Police Lieutenant $158,616.36
Garcia,Santos Deputy Fire Chief – 40 HR work week listed $158,084.11
Note that Chief Administrative Officer Lawrence Rael is paid $212,143.20, Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Bhakta is paid $175,233.60 , Technology and Innovation Director Brian Osterloh is paid $168,168.15, and City Council Services Director Christopher Melendrez is paid $165,796.80. They are the only 4 none APD and AFRD employees in the top 50 paid employees. All 4 are paid negotiated salaries and are serving in “at will” unclassified appointed positions. The number of hours they are required to work for their pay is not listed and they work whatever number of hours it takes to do their jobs without further compensation.
CATEGORY OF PAY BREAK DOWN WITH EMPLOYEE NUMBERS AND AMOUNTS PAID IN 2022
There are 5 full time hourly paid employees in the top 250 paid city hall employees who are paid between $204,023 and $235,992 a year with 3 employed by APD and 2 employed by the Fire Department. APD Chief Harold Medina is a salaried paid Department Director who is at will and who is listed as number 6 earning $204,023.
There are 4 full time 40 hourly paid employees in the top 250 paid city hall employees who were paid between $191,486 and $196,302 a year with all employed by the Fire Department (AFRD).
There are 7 full time hourly paid employees in the top 250 paid city hall employees who were paid between $182,148 and $189,928 a year with 5 employed by the Fire Department and 2 employed by APD.
There are 11 full time employees in the top 250 paid city hall employees who were paid between $171,079 and $176,946 a year with 4 employed by APD and 3 employed by the fire department. In the list of 11 are 5 at will employees, Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Bhakta paid $175,233, APD 2nd Deputy Chief Eric Garcia paid $174,729, Deputy Fire Chief Nathaniel Meisner paid $172,979, Fire Chief Gene Gallegos (now retired), paid $171,493 and APD Deputy Chief Jon J Griego paid $171,079.
There are 19 full time employees in the top 250 paid city hall employees who were paid between $160,628 and $169,286 a year with 14 employed by APD and 3 employed by the fire department. In the list of 19 are 5 at will employees, APD 1st Deputy Chief Michael Smathers paid $165,823, City Council Services Director Christopher Melendres paid $165,796, APD Deputy Chief Joshua Brown paid $162,060, Deputy Chief Cecily Barker paid $160,715 and Deputy Fire Chief Kristopher Romero paid $160,628.
There are 35 full time employees in the top 250 paid city hall employees who were paid between $150,084 and $159,775 a year with 15 employed by APD and 7 employed by the fire department. Included in the list of 235 full time employees of the top 250 paid city hall employees who were paid between $150,084 and $159,775 and who are at will employees are APD Deputy Chief Cori Lowe paid $159,775, Deputy Fire Chief Santos Garcia paid $158,084. Also included in the list of 35 of the 250 top paid city hall employees who were paid between $150,084 and $159,775 are Chief Operations Officer Kevin Sourisseau who was paid $157,778 and 12 “at will” Department Directors appointed by Mayor Keller and paid between $150,084 and $156,658.
There are 36 full time employees in the top 250 paid city hall employees who were paid between $140,128 and $148,885 a year with 23 employed by APD and 7 employed by the Fire Department for a total of 30. The remaining 6 work for other city departments.
There are 75 full time employees in the top 250 paid city hall employees who were paid between $130,230 and $139,896 a year with 51 employed by APD and 11 employed by the Fire Department for a total of 62. The remaining 13 work for other city departments and include City Attorney Lauren Keefe who was paid $138,229, City Budget Officer Lawrence Davis who was paid $138,229, Director of Finance and Administration Services paid $136,166 and Mayor Tim Keller who was paid $132,228.
There are 57 full time employees in the top 250 paid city hall employees who were paid between $124, 540 and $129,969 a year with 29 employed by APD and 9 employed by the Fire Department for a total of 38 out of 57. The remaining 19 work for other city departments and include deputy directors and project managers.
The lowest-paid person on the top 250 list, General Services Deputy Director Marina Salazar, made $124,541 in 2022.
The link to review the entire list of 250 top city hall paid employees for 2022 is here:
APD HOURLY BASE PAY
The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is the largest city budget out of the 27 departments with a 2023 approved General Fund budget of $255.4 million. The Department for each of the last 4 years has been given funding for 1,100 full time sworn police officers. Notwithstanding, today APD is understaff as to sworn police with between 865 to 960 sworn officers. According to APD Chief Harold Medina, as of March 20 APD has 960 sworn full time police officers. (https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/albuquerque-police-seeks-new-recruits-offers-pay-raise/) An Albuquerque Journal Editorial in February had APD at 865 sworn police. (https://www.abqjournal.com/2571927/city-ot-just-doesnt-pass-smell-test.html)
On February 4, 2022 it was reported that the Keller’s administration had negotiated a new police union contract making APD the best paid law enforcement agency in the region by increasing hourly wages and longevity pay and creating a whole new category of “incentive pay”. 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 down loaded as a PDF file at this link:
On March 21, 2022, Chief Harold Medina announced that APD cadets will be paid $60,000 a year, which breaks down to about $28 an hour while Patrolmen second class will make $63,000 a year.
Under the signed union 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 negotiated hourly pay increases are as follows:
2 to 4 year service pay is $68,411 yearly, or $32.89 hourly.
5 to 14 year service pay is $70,761 yearly, $34.02 hourly
15 or more years of service pay is $74, 297 a year or $35.72 hourly.
The average yearly pay for all APD Officers in all 3 categories of 2 to 15 years’ experience is $71,156 ($68,411 + $70,761 + $74, 297 = $213469 ÷ 3 categories = $71,156) This is the average yearly salary that would be paid to Police Officers First Class, Senior Police Officers 1st Class, Master Police Officers First Class,
Sergeant pay is $82,533 a year, or $39.69 hourly.
Lieutenant pay is $94,348 yearly or $45.36 hourly
Under the contract terms, longevity pay increased by 5% 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.
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.
The union contract allows the management positions of sergeants and lieutenants to be union members and therefore they can be paid overtime at time and a half.
APD PAY EXCEEDING BASE PAY BECAUSE OF OVERTIME TIME
APD Lieutenants are paid a base pay $94,348 yearly or $45.36 hourly. There are 31 APD Lieutenants listed in the top 250 paid city hall employees who were paid between $125, 945 (APD Lt David H. Weidner) to $217,646 (Lt. Justin Hunt) because of overtime.
APD Sergeant are paid a base pay $82,533 a year, or $39.69 hourly. There are 35 APD Sergeants who were paid between $124,902.87 (Sergeant Morgan Franklin) to $211,910 (Sergeant Brian A Johnson) because of overtime.
The average yearly base pay paid to Police Officers First Class, Senior Police Officers 1st Class, Master Police Officers First Class, depending on their total number of years of experience is $71,156. There are 6 police officer 1st class, 19 Senior Police Officers 1st class and 2 Master Police Officers 1st class in the top 250 paid city hall employees that were paid between $124,902 (Senior Police Officer 1st Class Honorio Alba, Jr. ) and $165,330 ( Master Police Officer 1st Class Stephen T Walsh) because of overtime.
LONGEVITY PAY ADDED TO APD BASE PAY
In addition to the base pay rates, APD police officers are also paid longevity bonus pay added to their pay at the end of the year. The Fiscal year 2023 Longevity Pay Scale is as follows:
For 5 years of experience: $105 is paid bi-weekly, or $2,730 yearly
For 6 years of experience: $131 is paid bi-weekly, or $3,406 yearly
For 7 to 9 years of experience: $236 is paid bi-weekly, or $6,136 yearly
For 10 to 12 years of experience: $315 is paid bi-weekly, or $8,190 yearly
For 13 to 15 years of experience: $368 is paid bi-weekly, or $9,568 yearly
For 16 to 17 years or more experience: $473 is paid bi-weekly, or $12,298 yearly
For 18 or more years of experience: $630 is are paid bi-weekly, $16,380 yearly
$34,380 LONGEVITY PAY AND BONUS PAY TO 19 YEAR POLICE VETERANS
On October 7, 2022 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.
The APD announced $18,000 bonus 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 2022, 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 needed to apply.
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 from the bonus pay.
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”.
APD CHIEF AND DEPUTY CHIEF SALARIES
The Albuquerque Police Chief Command staff consisting of the Chief and the 4 Deputy Chiefs. All 5 are “at will employees” and serve at the pleasure of the Mayor with their salaries a matter of negotiation. They are not paid overtime. They are listed in the top 250 paid city hall employees for 2022. In 2022, the APD Chief Command Staff were paid as follows
Medina, Harold, PD-Police Chief Of Police, $204,023.40
Garcia, Eric JPD-Police 2nd Deputy Chief $174,729.82
Griego, Jon J Police Deputy Chief $171,079.75
Smathers, Michael JayPD-PolicePD11st Deputy Chief $165,823.72
Barker, Cecily APD-Police Deputy Chief $160,715.20
APD’S CHRONIC OVETIME PAY ABUSE
Review of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 city hall 250 highest paid wage earnings reveal 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 those sworn police officers.
Police officers first class, senior police officers 1st class, master police officers 1st class, sergeants and lieutenants comprise the collective bargaining unit for the APD police union contract. All are classified employees and can only be terminated for cause.
For 2019, 2020 and 2021, over half of the top 250 wages earners at Albuquerque City Hall were 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 40-hour a week wage earners and were paid time and a half for overtime pay.
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.
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.
FAILED EFFORTS TO PLACE CAPS ON OVERTIME
It was in 2018 that APD spent $11.5 million in overtime. As a result, on January 14, 2019, APD announced it was going to place a limit on how much overtime officers could work in a week. There were nearly a dozen different types of overtime programs within the department, including holiday tac-plans, checkpoints and training, and “chief’s overtime” where private businesses pay to have an officer on site. Officers were only allowed to work 25 hours of overtime per week or 100 hours per month. It did not work and other caps were attempted and failed miserably largely because APD mid management and upper management failed to fully implement the overtime cap policies or they went along and simply approved overtime pay requests contrary to APD policy.
APD REAPEATEDLY BUSTS OVERTIME PAY BUDGETS
During the last 11 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 2018 APD spent $11.5 million paying officers to work overtime that resulted in a failed attempt to cap overtime to 20 hours a week.
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 more than 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.
Since 2014, there have been 7 audits investigating APD’s overtime pay abuses. The audits resulted in 17 findings and recommendation made to stop the overtime pay abuse, but they were never fully implemented by APD management nor former Republican Mayor Richard Berry and Democrat Mayor Tim Keller.
THREE APD OVERTIME PAY SCANDALS
Since 2018, there have been at least 3 major overtime pay scandals involving APD and each provide a case study reflecting that Mayor Keller and the City Council have been totally hapless and incompetent to dealing with overtime pay abuse.
APD SPOKESEMAN SEREANT SIMON DOLBICK
In 2018, the Citizens Police Oversight Agency investigated and found that in 2018 APD Spokesman Sergeant Simon Dolbik 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.
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).
The city has never demanded nor sued Drobik to reimburse the city for any questionable overtime paid found by the investigations.
LIEUTENANT JIM EDISON
In the spring of 2020, right after the pandemic began, APD Chief Harold Median placed Lt. Jim Edison in charge of the COVID-19 unit in APD’s Special Operations Bureau. Edison was responsible for coordinating the department’s COVID response, including contact tracing, testing of officers, and directing them when to quarantine. Over the course of one year, APD 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 2021.
Review of APD pay stubs showed Edison made $186,944 in 2020 and $173,672 in 2021. In 2020, more than $95,000 appeared to be from overtime according to pay stubs. From April 2020 to April 2021 Edison was paid upwards of $224,000, according to records APD provided to the news media. Edison was paid upwards of 3 times his base pay all because of overtime paid at the rate of time and a half. The police union contract requires payment in full for 2 hours for any overtime worked outside scheduled work time, no matter if the actual work was for mere minutes or seconds.
APD Internal Affairs and the Police Oversight Agency investigation into the time Edison claimed found Edison was routinely forwarding voicemails or emails outside of work hours and claiming 2 hours of overtime in each time he forwarded the voicemails or emails which likely took seconds to forward. The police union collective bargaining contract contains a clause that when an officer is “called in to work outside their regular working hours”, they are guaranteed pay for a minimum of 2 hours and the rate of time and a half. The investigation report on Edison found he was voluntarily taking on tasks or duties outside of his regularly scheduled hours not ordered or approved by his supervisors, including early morning hours when he was at home.
2020 AUDIT FINDS $400,000 PAID IN OVERTIME TO 4 POLICE OFFICERS
On October 26, 2020 the Internal Audit Department released a 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.
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.”
2021 NEW MEXICO STATE AUDITOR’S SPECIAL AUDIT
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. The 64-page audit was performed by the Albuquerque accounting firm Porch & Associates LLC. The audit covers the time period of January 1, 2018 to June 30, 2020. The link to the entire 64-page audit report is here:
The State Audit released found that problems identified in previous 6 investigations and audits persisted and the city did not track its progress in addressing recommendations. 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 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 sworn police officers.
The links to quoted news source material are here:
ALBUQUERQUE FIRE AND RESCUE DEPARTMENT
The Fire and Rescue Department (AFRD) is the second-largest city department with funding at $107.6 million. In fiscal year the 2023, AFR is budgeted for 812 full time positions and AFR it is fully staffed.
A CADET/FIREFIGHTER 3c during a 20 week training academy is paid $17.02 an hour for a 40 hour work week or $13,616 (40 hrs x 20 weeks = 800 x $17.02 = $13,616) OR $35,401 a year (40 hour work week X 52 weeks = 2080 hours X $17.02 hourly wage = $35,401.
CADET/PARAMEDIC FIREFIGHTER 3C during A 20 week training academy is paid $20.80 an hour for a 40 hour work week or $16,640 (40 X 20 = 800 x $20.80 = $16,640) OR $43, 264 a year (40 hour work week X 52 weeks = 2080 hours X $20.80 = $43, 264.
PROBATIONARY FIREFIGHTER 2C (1 year) are paid $39,545.22 a year.
PROBATIONARY PARAMEDIC FIREFIGHTER 2C (1 YEAR) are paid $45,617.00 a year
FIREFIGHTER 1st Class are paid $62,196.42 a year.
PARAMEDIC FIREFIGHTER 1st Class are paid $64,933.44 a year.
51 of the 250 top paid city hall employees were AFRD personnel.
The following Fire Department employees are listed as 40 hour work week employees and were paid as follows because of overtime paid:
Fire Paramedic Lieutenant Robert Herrera: $196,302
Fire Paramedic Lieutenant Si N Do: $193,550
Fire Paramedic Lieutenant Jacob Tapia: $191,713
Fire Paramedic Lieutenant Thomas Ruiz: $191,486
Fire Captain Craig J Deal: $189,928
Fire Battalion Chief Alex Montero (56 Hour Work week listed) $186,215
Fire Paramedic Lieutenant Johnathan D. Longdon: $184,195
Fire Paramedic Lieutenant Zachary Webb: $184,195
Fire Paramedic Battalion Chief Christopher Ortiz: $182,148
Deputy Fire Chief Kristopher Romero: $160,628
Paramedic Driver Jose Chaves: $164,350
Deputy Fire Chief Santos Garcia: $158,084
Fire Battalion Chief Michael Rogers: $156,824
Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Ferando: $151,865
Deputy Fire Chief James Malek: $151,247
AFRD LONGEVITY PAY
All members who serve at least 5 consecutive years with AFR will receive longevity pay. This supplement is paid monthly and is applied towards your highest 5 year earnings.
- 5 -7 years = $2,340 annually
- 8 – 11 years = $3,250 annually
- 12 – 14 years = $4,160 annually
- 15 – 17 years = $6,240 annually
- 18 – 21 years = $13,130 annually
- 22 – 24 years = $14,430 annully
- 25 years and above = $16,770 annually
ALBUQUERQUE FIRE AND RESCUE CHIEF AND DEPUTY CHIEF SALARIES
Albuquerque Fire and Rescue command staff consisting of the Fire Chief, Deputy Chiefs, Captains, Lieutenants, Battalion Chiefs are paid in accordance with years of experience and what is approved or negotiated. The Fire Chief and the Deputy Chiefs are at will employees, are listed as 40 hour work week employees and they are not paid overtime and are in the top 250 paid city hall employees. In 2022, AFRD Chief Command Staff were paid as follows:
Gallegos, Gene, Fire Chief – 40 HR $171,493.24
Meisner, Nathaniel, AFRD Fire Deputy Fire Chief – 40 HR $172,979.53
Garcia, Santos, AFRD Deputy Fire Chief – 40 HR $158,084.11
Romero, Kristopher S, Deputy Fire Chief – 40 HR $160,682
Ferando, Kevin J., Deputy Fire Chief -40 HR $151,885
Melek, James A., Deputy Fire Chief- 40 HR $151,865
Jarammillo, Emily V., 1st Deputy Fire Chief – 40 HR $151,247.43
MAYOR AND DEPARTMENT DIRECTORS’ SALARIES
Mayor Tim Keller and a number of his Department Directors, who are at will employees, are on the list of 250 top paid city halls. When Mayor Keller first took office 5 years ago, the average salary he paid Department Directors was $116,000 and the average pay today is over $152,000. Following are the salaries paid to the Mayor and his Department Directors who are not eligble for overtime hourly pay:
Mayor Tim Keller – $132,228
Animal Welfare Director Carolyn Ortega – $152,776
Family Community Services Director Carol Pierce – $152,756
Municipal Development Director Charles Montoya – $152,756
City Clerk Ethan Watson – $152,555
Community Safety Department Director Mariela Ruiz – $152,555
Cultural Services Director Mary Van Etten de Sanchez – $152,555
Senior Affairs Director Anna Sanchez – $152,555
Solid Waste Director Mathew Whelan – $152,555
Aviation Director Richard McCurly – $150,084
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Police and fire personnel account for the overwhelming majority of the top 250 paid city hall employees primarily because overtime paid. Many are more than doubling their base pay because of overtime which is astonishing. APD had 3 of the city’s top 10 paid employees last year, while AFRD had 6. It is painfully obvious that the Albuquerque Fire Department has now been infected with APDs’ overtime pay abuse greed virus.
ALBQUERQUE FIRE AND RESCUE DEPARTMENT
The Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Department is fully staffed. Ostensibly, there is no legitimate reason why is there so much overtime being paid to AFRD personnel. It is AFRD command staff that set the work schedules and its more likely than not they are giving preferential treatment to a select few.
A confidential source within the Fire Department has disclosed many paramedics assigned to support services claim they are unable to perform their field duties as paramedics and do so in order to get into overtime pay positions. Once they are in their new support potions they recover from their physical infirmity and say they able to work overtime. It’s a scheme that is unfair because these support positions provide the opportunity for all who work there to get evenings, weekends and holidays off, while the field personnel work all these times regardless and its part of their job.
The confidential source within the Fire Department also said that what is happening is that trained paramedics are being taken out of field services and assigned to AFRD support divisions. When trained paramedics work overtime in a support division, they are paid upwards of 40% higher the hourly rate than paramedics who are assigned to the field. That’s because the support divisions make a higher hourly rate because they work 40-hour work weeks as opposed to the 56 hours that are worked by field personnel. Both these hourly rates will work out to the same weekly pay. For a 40-hour person to make equal to a field worker, their hourly rate is higher. This part of it is reasonable but it’s how it’s been manipulated to increase overtime that is not.
ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT
APD has been severely understaffed for years. It now has 960 sworn officers if Chief Median is to believed when it is budgeted for 1,100 sworn police. In early February a news report said APD had 865 full time sworn. While that makes APD’s overtime pay more understandable, abuse has plagued the police department and prompted audits for several years.
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 approve all overtime submitted by their subordinates to keep them happy and to maintain a working relationship with them and to garner favor with them.
THE DANGERS OF EXCESSIVE OVERTIME
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 all the rest. Consecutive shifts or excessive overtime for any police officer or firefighters can lead to extreme fatigue, emotional burnout and reduce a first responders alertness and response times and reflexes that can endanger lives and public safety.
Excessive overtime paid is a red flag for abuse of the system, mismanagement of police resources or the lack of personnel. APD has added hired officers but is failing to keep up with retirements and it has become a vicious circle. In the years Mayor Keller has been in office, APD has never reached Keller’s promised goal of 1,200 sworn police when he first ran in 2017.
It is once again time for the City Council, the City Auditor, the City Office of the Inspector General and the state Auditor to take a look at APD again as well as and AFRD’s overtime. Both departments’ upper command must be held accountable for the overtime abuse.
The problem is that it will not matter because Mayor Tim Keller has proven to be absolutely inept in managing both departments. He has allowed overtime pay abuse to continue during his 5-year watch without doing anything to hold his management team responsible. The City attorney’s office has never initiated any civil collection action to demand repayment of fraudulent overtime pay.
The solutions to end overtime pay abuse are:
- Criminal prosecutions for overtime time card fraud.
- Civil lawsuits for reimbursement of fraudulent overtime pay.
- Negotiate new terms to the APD union contract removing APD Sergeants and Lieutenants who are management from the union bargaining unit and making them at will and paid a salary.
- Abolishing all forms of overtime pay.
- Creating a strict salary structure.
On April 1, 2023, Mayor Tim Keller will be releasing his proposed 2023-2024 budget for review and approval by the City Council. When that happens, the City Council and the public will get an even clearer picture of the extent of overtime paid to both APD and AFRD.
A link to a related blog article is here: