By Dennis Domrzalski
with Charles Arasim
The Albuquerque Police Department's human robot, officer Simon Drobik, or The Man Who Never Sleeps, apparently just can't stop racking up massive and record-setting amounts of overtime pay. And APD brass and Mayor Tim Keller's office appear unable—or unwilling—to stop Robot Drobik.
For the first four months of this year, Drobik, whose base pay is $31.50 an hour ($63,630 yearly) has made $82,371, according to the city's website. If he continues on this pace, Drobik will make a jaw-dropping $247,113 for the year. That will shatter the record of $192,973 that Drobik made in 2018, the year that we first reported on his apparent super-human capacity for work.
The city and APD have yet to answer our questions as to how Drobik could have made $82,000 in four months. But for a patrol officer, working overtime is the only real way to add to their base salary. Cops and other city employees can sell unused sick and vacation time back to the city, but only when they retire. And as far as we can tell, Drobik is still working. And, in 2018 we reported on Drobik's massive amounts of overtime.
If all that extra cash that Drobik is hauling in is overtime, our calculations show that he has worked/claimed an astounding 60.5 hours of overtime each and every week so far this year. And remember, that's on top of his regular 40-hour work week. So each and every week Robot Drobik has been working an average of 100 hours.
Here's another way to look at it. If Drobik had merely worked his 40-hour weeks at his $31.50-an-hour base pay, he would have made $25,200 through the first four months of the year, not $82,371.
To put Drobik’s current earnings in perspective consider that during the same time period city of Albuquerque payroll records show that Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier (Drobik’s boss) earned $73,393. Albuquerque Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael earned $72,584 and Albuquerque Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair earned $74,544. Drobik, a police officer first class, has out-earned the top dogs at city hall by thousands of dollars.
Here's a look at Drobik's yearly pay over the years and his rank among the city's top 250 earners:
2010 #46 $105,052
2011 #8 $114,727
2012 #28 $108,341
2013 #22 $110,687
2014 #9 $125,570
2015 #6 $137,644
2016 #12 $137,817
2017 #6 $159,656
2018 #1 $192,937
2019 #7 $166,484
In the last ten years Drobik, in his position as a patrol officer with APD, has been in the top fifteen of all city employees earnings six times. This list includes chief of police, chief operations officer and chief administrative officer.
In the last ten years, including the first four months of this year, Drobik has been paid two, and sometimes three times his base salary. In total he has made $1,441,286.
What is even more astonishing about this is Drobik's brazenness and the city's and APD's apparent unwillingness to stop him from working/claiming so much overtime, even in the face of massive criticism about the issue. Last April the Civilian Police Oversight Agency and the Police Oversight Board found that Drobik violated APD policy 51 times in claiming massive amounts of OT in 2018. There were a couple of days when Robot Drobik billed the city—meaning you, the taxpayers—for more than 24 hours of work in a day. Both agencies recommended that APD Chief Mike Geier fire Drobik. But Geier ignored the recommendations and imposed no discipline against Drobik.
Here's how the Albuquerque Journal described the CPOA's report on Drobik's astounding amounts of overtime:
“While the report emphasizes that there was no evidence of criminal activity, it did find that throughout 2018 Drobik violated policies more than 50 times by getting paid simultaneously for being on call as a spokesman and working the “chief’s overtime” at local businesses.
"In one case he left Target, where he was stationed for “chief’s overtime” – a practice in which private companies can pay the city to have an officer stationed outside their business. Officers who take part in the program are paid time and a half.
“This is in direct violation of SOP (Standard Operating Procedures),” the investigation’s recommendation memo says. “Yet Officer D. knowingly and repeatedly violated this policy to enrich himself. Despite the lack of supervision from the department, an officer’s moral code of ethics does not allow an officer to continually violate policy, especially for their own gains.”
“Lt. M,” as he is referred to in the memo, supervised Drobik until mid-October and continued to approve the overtime. Lt. M “acknowledges and was aware of Officer D’s repeated violations of APD Administrative Order 3-20-2 (6),” according to a separate memo.
“However, he took no corrective actions; instead he continued to approve the Chief’s Overtime Assignments throughout 2018 until Officer D’s TDY assignment in October of 2018,” the memo continues.”
In late April 2019, APD and Mayor Keller's office said that the department was overhauling its OT policies and that Drobik was being stripped of his APD spokesperson duties. Here's what Keller said at the time in a news release from his office:
“The department’s commitment to revamping the overtime policy reflects that the particular personnel issue was just the tip of iceberg; their efforts should bring needed accountability to the overtime system, decentralize our PIOs to better align with community policing, and still ensure that our officers have the flexibility to provide the protection our community needs.”
So what changes were made to APD's overtime rules, and what accountability has been brought to the police department?
On May 20 (12:21 p.m.) we emailed Keller's office and APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos 10 questions (posted below) about how Drobik could have made $82,000 in four months. Included was a question about what reforms APD made to its OT rules. Gallegos responded on May 21 at 9:53 a.m. that he was working on a reply. But by publication time this afternoon (May 22) he had not answered any of our questions.
And remember that in 2019, Drobik made $166,404, all while the city and APD were allegedly reining him in and reforming the department's OT policies and bringing accountability to them.
Through Mighty Simon's overtime saga, APD and the city have never addressed the issue of whether a human being can consistently—and safely—work thousands of hours of overtime ever year. And they apparently have never addressed how much OT for a cop—people with guns and who drive cars real fast—is appropriate and safe.
We'll wait for their answers. In the meantime, if you come across Robot Drobik on the streets, hide your wallets, because he's been picking all of our pockets with his overtime madness.
Here are the questions we sent to APD and Mayor Keller's office:
1. What are officer Drobik's APD duties, and where is he assigned in the department?
2. Is officer Drobik still on call 24 hours a day every day of the year?
3.. Who is supervising officer Drobik and who is approving his overtime requests?
4. Did APD ever change/revise its overtime rules? If so, please email me a copy of the new/revised rules. If not, why not?
5. Does either Mayor Keller or Chief Geier think it's appropriate for a master police officer to make $240,000 a year?
6. Does either Mayor Keller or Chief Geier consider it safe for a police officer to be working so many hours?
7. Has APD or the city done a thorough investigation into officer Drobik's health?
8. Has APD or the city sought professional medical advice on how many hours police officers can safely work in a week while not jeopardizing their health and the public's safety?
9. Please email me officer Drobik's complete payroll records for this year, complete with every single hour of overtime he has claimed.
10. Last year the CPOA found that officer Drobik had violated APD overtimes and other rules at least 50 times. At the time, Mayor's Office was concerned. Will Mayor Keller's office open a new investigation into officer Drobik's current overtime claims?
Here's one way to look at Drobik's pay of $82,371 so far this year:
Jan. 1, 2020 to May 20, 2020 = 140 days
140 days / 7 days per week = 20 weeks
40 work hours per week X 20 weeks = 800 work hours
$31.50 base pay per hour X 800 hours = $25,200.00 base pay
$25,200.00 / 20 weeks = $1,260.00 base pay per week
$82,371.97 actual pay / 20 weeks = $4,118.60 actual pay per week
$4,118.60 actual pay per week - $1,260.00 base pay per week = $2,858.60 in additional actual pay per week
$31.50 per hour base pay X 1.5 (overtime) = $47.25
$2,858.60 / $47.25 = 60.5 overtime hours per week