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Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
The amount of pay received by one of the more familiar public faces in the Albuquerque Police Department has raised some questions about his overtime earnings.
Officer Simon Drobik has earned nearly $170,000 this year as of the most recent pay date, thanks in large part to overtime. His base pay is $31.50 per hour.
Drobik, who works as an officer and as a spokesman for the police department, regularly reports having worked more than 100 hours per week, according to his pay stubs.
His total compensation so far this year is $169,000, which is almost $20,000 more than the next highest paid city employee, the city’s chief administrative officer, according to the city’s website.
Police Chief Michael Geier has made $140,000 so far this year.
Albuquerque Inspector General JoVonne O’Connell said her office received a referral about Drobik’s overtime, though she declined to speak more about it. She said the office is still assessing what it will do with the referral, and she hasn’t decided whether to launch an investigation or make a report about it.
Shaun Willoughby, the president of the Albuquerque police union, said that all officers, including Drobik, have had to increase their hours worked in recent years as the city has struggled to fully staff the department.
“Simon is out there busting his tail on a regular basis,” Willoughby said. “I would be shocked if there were anything questionable about what Simon does.”
Willoughby said officers in the past have been capped at 20 hours of overtime per week, but that cap was lifted because of demand for officers. He said officers are routinely ordered to continue their shift beyond regular hours because there are calls for service that need to be answered.
“I work hard for my family and even harder for victims’ families,” Drobik said in a brief interview Monday while organizing a late-night “perp walk” for reporters.
A measure earlier this month before the Police Oversight Board to have some civilian oversight on Drobik’s pay stubs failed to get the votes needed to go forward.
Board member Chelsea Ban Deventor made a motion during the board’s meeting, but it failed on a 3-3 vote.
Member Joanne Fine, who voted against it, said the board could take a wide look at the issue of police overtime pay but not an individual officer’s money.
Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for the police department, said the Mayor’s Office and the department want to do a wide review of police overtime pay.
“While the department has been shorthanded over the past years, overtime has been used to fill the gaps. Mayor (Tim) Keller wants APD to be more efficient and less reliant on overtime, which is one of the reasons the mayor put the department on a path to hire 400 new officers over the next four years,” Gallegos said in a prepared statement. “Under the mayor’s direction, we will also conduct a comprehensive review to ensure hours claimed are accurate and properly accounted for.”
Albuquerque police officers have long been some of the highest-paid city employees because of the overtime work they do. Police department employees last year accounted for 123 of the 250 highest-paid city employees.
It’s not uncommon for officers to bank more than $100,000 in a given year, and Drobik has in the past been a part of the 10 highest-paid city employees.
ABQReport, a local blog, has published several critical reports about Drobik’s pay.
Much of an officer’s overtime is called “chief’s overtime,” which is money that flows through the city but is paid by outside groups for police services, such as a police presence at a public or sporting event.
The city’s own bill for police overtime also has increased in recent years due to need. The city has been short on officers and the number of reported crimes has surged.
Gallegos said the city budgeted $9 million in police overtime in the 2019 fiscal year, which ends in June 2019.
But the city is on pace to go over that. It has paid officers $5.6 million in overtime so far.
“We need 1,200 cops … and we have almost 900,” Willoughby said. “Our men and women in the city of Albuquerque are working their tails off to try to turn crime around in this city. I’m thankful that we have officers in this police department that care enough about this community to work the overtime that’s available.”