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APD’s overtime tab hits $11 million

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It paid well to be an Albuquerque police officer willing to work long hours last year.

The city’s police officers earned about $11 million in overtime in 2015 – a 16 percent increase over the previous year, and the number of officers who cracked City Hall’s top 250 earners went from 91 to 100.

A shortage of officers and a salary increase that started in mid-2014 contributed to the increase in overtime pay last year, said Rob Perry, the city’s chief administrative officer.

Graph of highest-paid city employeesAs for the top 250 list, which requires being paid at least $93,000, Perry said the uptick last year also was due, in part, to retiring officers who cashed out unused vacation time as a lump-sum payment.

Of the top 10 highest earners, six were from the police department and three from the fire department. Perry topped the list at $193,293.

City records show the police and fire departments typically are well represented on the top 250 list.

Last year, police Chief Gorden Eden was the second highest paid city employee at $169,654, while Deputy Chiefs Eric Garcia and William Roseman were eighth and 10th on the list. All three are salaried employees.

There also were three “patrol officers first class” on the same list.

Officer Simon Drobik, who also works as a spokesman for APD on weekends, and officers Brian Johnson and Timothy McCarson were the sixth, seventh and ninth highest paid city employees, according to the city’s website. The officers all made more than $135,000.

Most police officers would make about $56,000 a year if they were to work 40-hour weeks, but the 50 highest paid field services officers averaged $87,000, according to the department’s website.

Officer Tanner Tixier, a police spokesman, said the officers almost always have to volunteer to work overtime.

The department only has 823 officers, though it is budgeted for 1,000.

The department’s officers got a 5 percent pay raise midway through 2014, Perry said. Officers working overtime make their regular hourly salary multiplied by 1.5.

Of last year’s overtime, Perry said about $1.5 million was “chief’s overtime.” That is overtime covered by businesses that pay for Albuquerque police to work there. Officers may be paid to work a concert or community event, for example.

Grants also sometimes pay for officers to work overtime.

Officers are limited to 16 hours of chief’s overtime per week, Tixier said.

He said the other type of overtime is related to calls for service, and officers will be asked to work overtime if there are too many calls waiting for the regularly scheduled officers on the shift to respond in a timely manner.

“We’re always concerned with the type of overtime and the impact that overtime has on the officers’ well-being,” Perry said. “But the reality is some officers want to work that much overtime.”

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