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Report questions impact of ‘chief’s overtime’

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

The chief’s overtime assignments have been in the spotlight in recent months after an investigation by the Civilian Police Oversight Agency found that the department’s spokesman, officer Simon Drobik, clocked 944 hours under the program in 2018.

He would frequently take comp time or vacation time from his regular shift to work chief’s overtime assignments – for which he would be paid time and a half. The investigation also found he had billed the department for working chief’s overtime at the same time he billed as a media spokesman.

While the investigation was primarily into Drobik’s overtime, the agency also found a number of other high earners and suggested regular reviews of those who collected the most.

The CPOA investigation recommended reworking policies, implementing the 25-hour-a-week cap on all overtime and strengthening oversight by supervisors.

A month’s worth of schedules released to the Journal under an Inspection of Public Records Act request found that in September 2018, from 15 to 53 officers were on a chief’s overtime assignment on any given day.

The assignments included being stationed at businesses such as Walmart, Target and area gas stations, as well as movie shoots, football games and the State Fair.

Given the department’s issue with understaffing, the Overtime Evaluation Final Report said that it may not be possible to provide businesses with chief’s overtime assignments “without negatively impacting the operation.” Although there was an existing 25-hour cap on chief’s overtime specifically, the evaluators found that an average of 51 officers exceeded it for any given week in the first 10 months of the year.

“Given the current policy, which should be enforced for safety reasons, it may be necessary to limit chief’s overtime until staffing levels are adequate,” the report states.

The number of officers on the force has increased in recent years, but the department is still not fully staffed.

Deputy Chief Mike Smathers said APD would not specifically limit chief’s overtime, but an officer’s ability to participate in the program would be restricted if the officer had already worked 25 hours of regular overtime that week.

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