(Editor's note: This story about the New Mexico State Auditor ordering the city of Albuquerque to initiate a special audit of its overtime practices has been updated. The original story is below the new material.)
The Albuquerque Police Department's overtime king, officer Simon Drobik, abruptly retired from the department on Friday, July 10. Drobik retired before APD's Internal Affairs unit could complete an investigation into the large amounts of overtime he had claimed so far this year, APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos told ABQReport.
Gallegos also said that APD has notified the State Auditor's Office of potential time card fraud found during its IA investigation.
Here is the statement Gallegos emailed ABQReport this afternoon:
"Simon Drobik submitted his paperwork on July 10 to retire from APD prior to the completion of an ongoing Internal Affairs investigation. The department has been scrutinizing the significant amount of officer overtime, especially during the COVID pandemic, to determine whether it is justified. We are notifying the State Auditor’s Office of potential time card fraud discovered during our investigation."
(Photo: APD's overtime king, officer Simon Drobik, abruptly retired from the department on Friday. He was under an Internal Affairs investigation regarding his overtime claims.)
Below is our original story on the State Auditor ordering a special audit of APD's overtime practices:
-- The order for a special audit means that the State Auditor's initial inquiry found big problems at APD.
-- We hear that officer Simon Drobik abruptly retired last week. The city has yet to confirm that.
The New Mexico State Auditor's Office has ordered the city of Albuquerque to initiate a special audit of overtime practices and payments at the Albuquerque Police Department.
The order for the special audit came after Auditor Brian Colón's office had launched a fact-finding probe earlier this year into APD's overtime practices. The demand for the special audit—which the city must pay for—means that the auditor's initial inquiry found major problems at APD in regards to it's overtime practices.
And the man whose actions might have helped launch the probe, officer Simon Drobik, abruptly retired from APD last week, sources told ABQReport. We emailed Mayor Tim Keller's and APD's spokespeople this morning and asked if Drobik had indeed retired. As of publication time they had not responded.
The city was ordered to perform the special audit in a June 24 letter from Colón to Keller.
Read the auditor's letter here.
“The Office of the State Auditor (OSA) received allegations raising concerns regarding the practices of the City of Albuquerque (“City”) related to police overtime processes and payments, as well as internal controls,” Colón's letter said. “With respect to these concerns, the OSA hereby designates the City for a special audit in order to examine the City’s compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures.”
APD has had problems with overtime pay for years. In the past several years two internal city audits have highlighted the ongoing problems and called for reforms. But those reforms apparently never came.
Last year, ABQReport wrote that Drobik, whom we dubbed The Human Robot, was paid $192,973 in 2018. That included massive amounts of overtime. On at least two occasions, Drobik billed the city for more hours than there are in a day.
And last year the Civilian Police Oversight Agency investigated Drobik's overtime pay and found that he had violated APD policy an astounding 51 times. The CPOA recommended that Drobik be fired, but APD Chief Mike Geier rejected the recommendation and imposed no discipline on Drobik.
In May, ABQReport wrote that Drobik was back on the overtime train and had been paid $82,371 for the first four months of the year. That's on a base salary of $31.50 an hour.
Here's an excerpt from that story:
“For the first four months of this year, Drobik, whose base pay is $31.50 an hour ($65,520 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.
“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.”
This past June, Geier finally moved to cap overtime at the department. But that was after we had reported that Colon's office had started its preliminary probe into APD's overtime practices.