COMMENTARY: Under Paso Robles’ wild’n’crazy “Big Tint”

September 24, 2008

By DANIEL BLACKBURN and KAREN VELIE

A businessman seeking equal justice is learning that tinted vehicle windows, tinted law enforcement, and tinted truth has put him squarely in the path of conflict with Paso Robles’ dancing police chief, Lisa Solomon.

Last week, the Paso Robles businessman was dining at a local eatery when he noticed a police patrol car pausing several times near his parked van. When the man left the scene, he Paso Robles Police Officer Kevan Harder immediately pulled him over and cited him for the egregious offense of driving with an overly-tinted window.

The van’s owner, who asked to remain unnamed because of business contracts he has with the city and a fear of retaliation, makes no excuses regarding the citation. It was just a fix-it ticket, after all. That might easily have been the end of the matter, as this law makes real safety sense, helping shield peace officers from unnecessarily life-threatening situations while on duty.

Only one problem here: the business owner, a lifelong Paso Robles resident, happened to know that many local police officers’ personal vehicles also have darkly tinted windows. So, he took photographs of the automobiles. As luck would have it, some of the out-of-compliance cars belonged to high-ranking lieutenants, and one belonged to Christopher Chitty, an officer with the San Luis Obispo Police Department and husband of Chief Solomon.

So, the businessman set an appointment with Solomon to discuss apparently selective law enforcement practices. The chief stood him up.

Shortly thereafter, the man was having coffee with an UncoveredSLO reporter at a Starbuck’s when a PR police officer stopped by for a cup. The businessman asked the officer to sign off on his ticket. Then, he asked her why some police officers have darkly tinted windows on their private vehicles. The officer told the man he would have to direct that question to someone else.

The man said, “I have an appointment to talk to Lisa later today.”

At this, the officer bristled, curtly informing the man, “You don’t call her by her first name. You are being disrespectful.”

“That’s because I don’t respect her,” the businessman replied.

The officer then demanded the man provide his name. She stabbed at her shoulder-mounted two-way radio and repeated the man’s identification into the speaker.

When the reporter drove away from the coffee shop, she was briefly followed, first by a Paso Robles police motorcycle officer, and then by a patrol car.

The business owner took his story to a city council member, and just like that, Chief Solomon found time to talk. Or at least enough time to request that the man hand over those incriminating pictures. He declined. The businessman asked Solomon if she planned to cite her own officers for their unlawful vehicle windows. She said, “We are leaders, and we have to act like leaders.”

Solomon also said she had sent a memorandum Monday to her officers. The memo reportedly demanded they get their expensive tints off within 30 days and start complying with California law.

The businessman suspects Solomon included his name in the memorandum, which would place him squarely in the center of the issue and on the bad side of armed lawmen paying good money to fix their own windows. Solomon said the businessman is not named in the memorandum, but she won’t give up a copy of the order without a fight.

Earlier today, the businessman parked near the police department on his quest for a copy of Solomon’s secretive memo, and was immediately approached by Lt. Ty Lewis. The lieutenant walked across the street and ordered the businessman to move his vehicle while alleging, with a smile, a curb violation.

After he moved his van a few inches closer to the curb, the businessman stepped inside the station and asked the chief if she had also ticketed her men for tinted windows, or if they simply received a warning.

Solomon said she did not have time to ticket her own men. She accused the businessman of talking to the media about officer-tinted windows. Solomon then provided a physical description of a reporter that included the attire she was wearing at the coffee shop, and said, “I know you were at Starbuck’s talking to that woman reporter.” The chief added, “No one reads UncoveredSLO anyway.”

Solomon refused to identify the officer who took such personal and brittle umbrage at the use of the name “Lisa.” So we offer this description: “Adult female Caucasian, 30-35 years old, 5-7, 135 pounds, dark hair cropped short, last seen wearing a police uniform, carrying a big gun and a bigger attitude.”

When the businessman asked Solomon if this was about retaliation, he said she told him, “I can guarantee nothing. File a complaint.”

As a practical matter, this police chief can guarantee anything she wants when it comes to sworn officers and every other employee in her department: She is Queen Bee. She alone sets the tone for her officer’s conduct.

A police department is identifiable by its particular “culture,” which includes the face its officers present to the public, as well as the department’s established behavioral policies and procedures. And it’s always seemed to us that police officers are generally responsive when they know their chief will not tolerate certain kinds of conduct.

Asked by a reporter if department policy requires citizens to address the chief in any particular way, Solomon replied, “We have no policy on this issue.”


12 Comments

  1. ccn_debate says:

    Member Opinions:
    By: NorthCountyGuy on 10/26/08
    Beware of one discourteous and nasty Paso cop that resembles a knuckle-dragging barbarian. This life threatening dinosaur is a classic example of why a badge and a gun shouldn't be given to a monkey.
    By: NorthCountyGuy on 10/24/08
    Most police officers are pretty decent fellows. Everybody knows that one or more of Lisa's employees are power-drunken rogues who are totally out of control. One or more chickenshit, power-crazed Supercops working for Lisa believe that they are the Masters not the Servants of the People. Instead of putting a few out-of-control thugs on a leash, Lisa does nothing but spin and cover up for her insider clique of power drunken, civil rights violating elites. The real problem with Lisa is she is loaded with a ton of serious baggage such as Conflicts of Interest and Hidden Agendas that she won't disclose to the public.
    I believe Lisa's "War on Tinted Windows" could be fueled by her desire to spot and identify the Paso drug dealers and gang bangers who haven't been roped into paying their fair share of Protection Racket money into Lisa's favorite revenue enhancement fund.
    By: Riley on 10/17/08
    Attitude is everything. Professional law enforcement officers high up in large cities show citizens more respect. But then, they are usually very comfortable with themselves. Too many of the current police officers have a chip on their shoulder and wear it proudly. Starts from the top. I have great respect for the job, the dangers, and the skills a police officer must have to deal with the public. Get them back to school!
    By: NorthCountyGuy on 10/13/08
    The "window tint" problem is caused by a poorly written law written by idiots in Sacramento. It is vague, conflicted and convoluted such that it could be interpreted in many different ways. It is a perfect opportunity (i.e., Cash Cow) for cities obsessed with Revenue Enhancement greed. Citations don't prove anything. Citizens are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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  2. ccn_debate says:

    By: Inquiry on 10/4/08
    This is a demonstration reality check for Dan.
    By: George on 10/3/08
    posted in another thread by Joe.
    Cool story about the window tint, would have been really great if you explained that the CA V.C refers to "tint" as "sun screen" and linked to the DMV.

    http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d12/vc26708.htm

    http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/lov/lovd12.htm
    By: slacker on 10/2/08
    went to school with hove…we grew up in paso, they probably have a "card" on him. If you grew up here you know what I mean. Doesn't make him a bad seed or anything. Actually, Chitty has a Hx of being above the law. CHP pulled him over for passing on a double yellow on PR Street! Guess he didn't feel he should wait in line with the other traffic this soon right after lisa became chief…heard there was tension between chp & prpd agencies…anyone else hear anything? Maybe No More Lies can give us another side of that story.
    By: Zuke on 9/30/08
    Good article. I see cops violating the law frequently and it's kinda of disheartening. Even minor violations like yapping on the cell phone while driving (oh yeah, emergency vehicles have a waiver), flipping on lights to blow through red lights and then turning them off, or flipping u-turns where prohibited without turning their lights on… is a big fat case of Do As I Say, Not As I Do. They're above the law, duh.

    By: fatherofpoliceoffice on 9/29/08
    my son was born and raised in paso robles and currently a police officer in la county. he came up to visit us during christmas last year and was pulled over twice for his tinited windows on his own car.once the found out his was a police officer,no ticket was issued
    By: NoMoreLies on 9/29/08
    MyThoughts:

    As much as my post reads like a Probable Cause statement – your postings reads like a tabloid journalist’s article. I'm guessing your Karen. Neither here nor there –

    Your calling me a hypocrite is funny. I am not the person putting out this article and then asking for input from bloggers. Thus, I have no obligation to do anything but respond. You on the other hand yearn for recognition and accolade – you will never earn them with your methods. Correction, your desire for recognition will be fulfilled by a minority who feed on hate.

    Lastly, my comments can easily be proved or disproved. Simply produce your witnesses etc…end of story. However, you won’t – or if you do, it will be delivered as you see fit – like the rest of your stories.

    Good Luck
    By: getalife on 9/27/08
    I myself am disgusted with how PRPD is being ran. All the controversy. How much more has to go on before the powers above Lisa realize they have a problem within the great city of PR? A big problem with who is running the PD. Sounds like the great city is losing its charm and respect for powers above…the law. And that is exactly what it sounds like PRPD is being ran as. Above the law. Who is making the rules? What new rule will be made tomorrow within our great city that we don't know about? The next day? Next week? What new controversy will come about next month? This town is on pins and needles. What next?
    Where is Andy Griffith and Barney Fife when you need them? The honesty and just plain and simple hometown life? PR used to be that way. Not anymore :(

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  3. ccn_debate says:

    By: MyThoughts on 9/27/08
    To NoMoreLies:

    You are a hypocrite!

    In describing the reporter, in a post Sept 25 you say "I love how none of her sources are EVER revealed"

    On a post later the same day you post " So you guys want the facts … here are the facts" and then you describe many events including the incident involving the accused parking violation.

    A friend who is a police officer agreed with me that you are a cop because your description of the parking violation reads like a probable cause statemant.

    I think you are a Paso police officer who knows something about this case and may very well be the one that warned the guy that got the ticket.

    Your defence of the the Chief and her husband is also suspicious. I think you are trying to protect them and the things they have done.

    There are many people in Paso who think they were done in by the Chief and her husband and who lost money from their sign business and bankrupsy.

    If sources are important … poney up yours Dude!!!!

    By: stopthebs on 9/27/08
    Why is this "news" site just singling out PRPD? Give me one agency in this county that doesn't have some dirt in its closet.

    I guarantee there is a handful of Officers/employees at every agency in this county has one or more violations wrong with their personal vehicle.

    Why is it that some big wig is making a huge deal out of a simple INFRACTION? If Mr. Hove would have gotten a ticket for a trailer ball blocking his rear plate, would he have thrown such a fuss? Doubt it!

    Complaining to some biased "news" site wont get you out of a ticket, it will just make you well known for crying!

    Quote by Booty Juice: "Cops do not now, never have and never will issue citations to another cop."

    Wrong. I personally know one out of many Officers in this state who have in fact issues tickets to fellow cops.

    Why doesn't this site report on actual news?
    By: Booty_Juice on 9/27/08
    Since when is this news? Cops do not now, never have and never will issue citations to another cop.

    They consider themselves to be above the laws that they enforce against "civilians".
    By: Cacahuate on 9/27/08
    Afriendindeed hit the nail on the head. This website, and it's slanted commentary and reporting is akin to the Shredder from a decade ago. The only difference is it is in electronic form. How about some real "cutting edge" news, not just agenda driven opinion? Paso PD may have need to do some housecleaning, but this article has once again morphed into a forum to bash cops, and not necessarily comment on an important topic.
    By: calvertworthington on 9/27/08
    This website has provided insight into matters avoided by the sparse local media, but suffers from a degenerating comment section.

    This comment piece on the Paso Robles police department is interesting but such allegations/observations of malfeasance should be addressed to the county district attorney and state attorney general. (If for no other reason than to document a complaint)

    As for the references to a 'dancing' police chief; 8-10 years ago (can't recall the year), I attended a 'dispatcher's appreciation' awards dinner in SLO at the Embassy Suites. After a speech by a local police chief, a woman attendee stood up and began to loudly sing. She removed part of her skirt, and proceeded to dance upon a row of tables as she sang. Naturally, this caught my attention and I asked another attendee who this singing-dancing woman was. I was told the woman was a police lieutenant (or maybe a Captain – I don't remember) from the Paso Robles Police Department. I do recall that the singing-dancing woman's last name was Solomon.

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