Last Friday marked the first week of APD's new 5 day a week, 8 hour a shift schedule and it didn't take long for a couple of unpleasant consequences to pop up. The first one (fatigue - read it here) we told you about last week. The second hits the department right where it hurts - in the budget.
(Sidebar)We've been chuckling about this all weekend. In the 5th Floor's blind drive to add another area command they forgot to check the APOA/APD contract. The first question that Ray and Company should have been asking is how the move to 5/8s would affect that contract both old and new. More specifically, does the move have a fiscal impact?
Our Eyes insist that this move to 5/8s is really about staffing a 6th area command. The problem is and has been that APD doesn't have enough officers to properly staff another command. So instead of waiting to open another area command the 5th floor has gone to the 5/8 scheme that spreads the existing 450 or so field officers over more area commands.
This has nothing to do with response times and it certainly doesn't improve coverage. The move was accompanied by a bid that reduced the number of officers in each squad and since everyone is working an 8 hour shift there's no scheduled overlap of coverage like there was with the 4/10 schedule. Between the gaps in coverage, officer fatigue, and reduced squad strength our streets could become significantly more dangerous.
Maybe it was the brouhaha over the new contract (although we doubt it since the plan to go to 5/8s was in the works before the contract was rammed through), but no one on the 5th floor or on the contract negotiation team bothered to check and sure enough that unintended consequence is there in black and white.
F. court Allowance: The city will pay a minimum of two (2) hours court time at time-and-one-half, unless the officer appears in court within one (1) hour of his/her tour of duty, starting or ending. In the event that court appearance is within one (1) hour of the tour of duty, starting or ending, the officer will be paid a sum of one (1) hour. This section does not apply to officers appearing in court during their tour of duty.What this all means is that since the graveyard shift ends at 6:00am, every graveyard officer that has court following their shift will automatically get 2 hours of overtime because court doesn't start until 8:30am. When APD was running 10 hour shifts the graveyard shift didn't end until 8:00am so paragraph 1 of section F applied whenever an officer had an 8:30 am court appearance.
Officers assigned to graveyard shift who have worked the previous shift will be paid a minimum of two (2) hours at time-and-one-half beginning thirty (30) minutes after shift ends plus actual time spent in court following two-and-one-half (2-1/2) hours after close of shift. [emphasis added]-APD/APOA Contract
Under the 5/8 scheme, officers get 2 hours of overtime if they have court at any time after their shift plus the actual time spent in court - all of it at time-and-a-half. It's possible under the new schedule for a graveyard officer to rack up as much as 12 hours of overtime without spending an hour in court.
Of course this revelation sent the brass into a panic because this little section of the contract is not only in the expiring contract it's in the new contract as well. (Oops!)
The contractual unintended consequence was given to Deputy Chief Michael Callaway to untangle. His solution was... we'll ignore the contract.
In a May 1st email Deputy Chief Michael Callaway instructed supervisors not to approve time sheets that include the additional 2 hours of overtime. DC Callaway created his own guidelines for court time compensation that he claims "are consistent with department policy, the collective bargaining agreement and past practices" - none of which matter in the slightest.
The City/APD and the APOA have negotiated a contract in good faith and despite a bumpy approval process; a new contract has been ratified by the APOA membership. That contract and the previous one contain the same language regarding court compensation for graveyard officers. DC Callaway, Chief Schultz, and even the Almighty Alcalde himself don't have the option of creating new rules when the contract specifically addresses the issue.
Should APD follow DC Callaway's directives, APD and the City of Albuquerque would be in breach of contract. We're talking unfair labor practices claims and litigation that would ultimately cost the city (that's all of us folks) more than simply paying the officers.
Exhibit A - DC Michael Callaway's email dated 5/1/2008 instructing Commanders and supervisors to ignore the provisions of not one but two contracts. We'd love to be an attorney getting 30% of the punitive damages imposed on the city because of this one.
Of course, they could fix the problem without renegotiating the contract and without costing the taxpayers a dime... go back to 4/10s. How much do you want to bet they choose breach?