Geier: Keller's a liar
By Dennis Domrzalski
-- "To allege that I was inattentive or failed to take action regarding these issues is utterly false and not supported by the record of my actions which show, frankly, the Mayor's interference with my efforts."--Mike Geier.
Former Albuquerque police chief Mike Geier said Mayor Tim Keller's administration was lying in attempting to blame him for APD's overtime pay woes.
An audit of APD's overtime problems released Friday said the city and APD have ignored recommendations in six previous audits--dating back to 2014--on how to fix the department's overtime mess. In the audit, Keller's administration tried to blame it all on Geier. Here's what the city said in the audit:
“The City agrees that the tone at the top was inadequate in the prior APD administrations. In contrast, the current city administration actively directed the former APD Chief, Michael Geier, to address overtime issues, overtime policies and the widely reported overtime questions concerning specific personnel. As outlined on page 12 of the report and in reference to the CPOA 2018 Report, it is very clear that Mayor Keller ordered a review of Officer Simon Drobik’s overtime pay. As a result of various factors, including but not limited to, the result of CPOA review as well as the APD Internal Affairs Report I-373-20 (referred to on page 4), a change in leadership at APD was made. The leadership change reflects an active and adequate tone at the top.”
On Friday, Geier, who Keller fired in September 2020, fired back at Keller. In an email, Geier said:
"I've reviewed the report by Porch & Associates as released today concerning the review of APD's overtime practices. While I find the report to be thorough, fair, and objective, there are some points of the record that require correction. Additionally, of immediate concern is the City of Albuquerque's response concerning me as asserted on pages 47-48. To allege that I was inattentive or failed to take action regarding these issues is utterly false and not supported by the record of my actions which show, frankly, the Mayor's interference with my efforts.
"Following my review of the January 18, 2019, Albuquerque Police Department Overtime Evaluation report by the City, I prepared a summary regarding the recommendations and started a plan to address the issues raised in that report. This summary and plan are attached to this email. This plan, which was to be accomplished over 2019 and 2020 was presented and addressed to Mayor Keller's executive team, including CAO Sarita Nair. Outlines of these presentations are attached. Further, this plan was promoted by my office in a April 27, 2019, media press release which is also attached. I even drafted a special order in 2019 but approval of that special order was withheld by the Mayor's office. Finally, in August of 2019, I directed DCOP Smathers to summarize the proposed changes to APD's OT system in a memo to CAO Nair. Also attached is a draft of DCOP Smathers' memo, which includes my comments/edits under each paragraph, before the final copy was sent to CAO Nair. Finally, in May of 2020, I initiated an APD IA investigation into the allegations concerning various APD personnel involved in approving Ofc. Drobik's overtime earnings and from that investigation over eight persons were found to sustained findings of SOP violations.
"If anybody was proactive in taking action to address the public's concerns about APD overtime expenses, it was me and certainly not the Mayor or CAO Nair as the Porch Report shows."
In April of 2019, APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos sent a news release to ABQReport detailing Geier's attempts to fix the department's overtime problems. Keller was quoted in the news release as saying, "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.”
Finally, Geier provided this draft of overtime changes he proposed in 2019.
State auditor Brian Colon said this about the special audit that his office released:
“Continued failure to provide oversight, monitoring and accountability has resulted in abuse and contributed to the public’s mistrust," Colon said. "This special audit is one of at least seven reports on concerning practices at APD that must be corrected. Residents of Albuquerque deserve better and it’s long overdue,” said Auditor Colón. “The City and APD must not waste any time in implementing the identified opportunities for improvement.”
The special audit was designated after the OSA received allegations that the City and APD failed to take action following calls from the Civilian Police Oversight Agency to address concerns regarding APD’s failure to follow its own overtime policies.
“The results of the special audit highlight a pattern of inadequate oversight from the City and APD to address years’ worth of findings and recommendations, which is necessary to fix and prevent the issues reported," Colon added.