Police chief accused of sexually assaulting her officers

January 26, 2012

Lisa Solomon

By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

Law enforcement officers have names for the girls offering them sex on the beat: Badge Bunny. Holster Sniffer. Uniform Jumper. Handcuff Hugger. In Paso Robles, brethren in blue have one more: The Chief.

A flurry of complaints and mounting grievances alleging sexual misconduct, illegal management practices and retaliation have been lodged against Paso Robles’ first female chief of police, Lisa Solomon. Those known to have made accusations against the chief include five current and former police officers, as well as a growing record of non-sworn police department personnel.

The criticisms against Solomon include allegations of sexual assaults, many committed in the presence of others, repeated affairs with a list of subordinates, and bearing a child out of wedlock fathered by a former lieutenant in the department.

The city has retained the services of an outside investigator to look into the numerous complaints, officers say. Solomon, 43, is married to a San Luis Obispo police officer. She has not responded to detailed emails from CalCoastNews asking for comment.

Numerous officers and department staffers contend that crossing Solomon is dangerous. They say their boss threatens them with trumped-up criminal charges if they rebuff her advances or question her management practices.

After Officer T.J. McCall reported to the city claiming Solomon grabbed his penis while he sat in her car, city officials hired an outside investigator to interview officers about other allegations of unwanted sexual contact.

Former officer Dave Hernandez said he told the investigator of an instance in 2007 when Solomon also touched him inappropriately. In August, Hernandez and another officer in full uniform entered a saloon then called the Crooked Kilt, to do a bar check.

Solomon, who had been out on the dance floor, approached Hernandez in a room full of people and allegedly pushed the officer’s face into her breasts.

“She grabbed my head and pushed it between her breasts,” Hernandez said. “I was shocked.”

Last month, the investigator asked Hernandez why he had not reported the incident back in 2007. He told the investigator he was afraid Solomon would have had him fired if he told, Hernandez said.

“Her MO (method of operation) is to make criminal charges against anyone who crosses her,” Hernandez said. “She will do whatever she can with her power.”

In June 2011, Hernandez, then the union steward, said he complained to City Manager Jim App that Solomon had hired another sergeant at a time when the department was low on officers and heavy in command staff.

In what officers say is typical in the North County department, the chief and several of her top level officers allegedly retaliated against Hernandez and began writing him up for issues such as speeding while transporting a drunk man who was bashing his feet against the back of his seat to the San Luis Obispo County Jail.

In this case, Solomon set out to charge him with negligent operation of a vehicle and being discourteous to a member of the public. Hernandez resigned Jan. 11 and is contemplating filing a civil lawsuit suit against the city.

In 2008, Solomon required all members of the command staff to attend a team-building workshop at the Carmel Valley Lodge during Super Bowl weekend. While there, Solomon allegedly sexually assaulted two officers, according to four officers who told CalCoastNews they were present at the time.

The men, several of whom first told reporters of the incident more than two years ago, have asked to remain unnamed, fearing retaliation.

During the Super Bowl, the officers put work aside and watched the game. After drinking heavily for several hours, Solomon said it was time to get back to work and ordered the seven attending officers to the hot tub for a mandatory meeting, the officers related.

Shortly after they suited up and sat down in the tub, Solomon said, according to the men, “You wanna see boobs?” She removed her top and allegedly rubbed her breast in a commander’s face, officers said.

She then scooted up close to Sgt. Brennen Lux, slid her hand into his shorts and grabbed his penis, the officers said. Lux quickly got out of the hot tub and jumped into the unheated pool.

Solomon then reportedly turned her focus on Lt. Tim Murphy, whom she also groped, the officers said.

The following day, Solomon reportedly warned her command staff that information about the incident was not to leave the conference room they had rented at the retreat.

After Lux rebuffed her advances repeatedly and began questioning the chief about her policies, Solomon began taking actions against him, officers said. She wrote up her former “golden boy” for issues such as speeding to a report of a three-month-old who was not breathing, and speeding to assist another officer who was grappling with a suspect. Lux was a combat Marine and 15-year law enforcement veteran.

In Nov. 2011, Solomon terminated Lux for allegedly committing battery, use of excessive force, and unlawful detention during the arrest of a combative suspect.

Hernandez, the watch commander at the time, said he saw the video of the arrest and contends that Solomon trumped up the charges in a failed attempt to have the officer charged with a crime. And while Solomon sent reports of the alleged assault to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office, charges were never filed.

Lux is also contemplating filing a civil lawsuit against the city and Solomon.

Several former employees said they informed city management of the alleged problems in the department during exit interviews, but their concerns were ignored.

City Manager Jim App declined to comment on the alleged investigation. He also demurred when asked why Solomon was not on administrative leave, a question several of her officers are also asking.

When City Attorney Iris Ping Yang was asked if she was aware of an investigation into Solomon’s behavior, she said, “I can’t tell you. I have no comment to make.”

Mayor Duane Picanco said he was surprised by the assertions: “That’s news to me,” he said. “And I mean that.”

And while most of Solomon’s threats of criminal charges against her employees are never filed, or result in the district attorney’s office refusing to prosecute, several employees have been criminally charged after crossing Solomon. Officers say Solomon and a few top-level commanders regularly search videos of employees they are looking to get rid of in an attempt to claim excessive force, and check the employee’s computers for unlawful access of driving records, a misdemeanor.

In 2010, Solomon was allegedly looking to get rid of Officer Jeff Bromby. After the district attorney’s office rebuffed attempts to have the officer charged with theft for helping his girlfriend remove items from an elderly relative’s home, she was successful in having him charged with unauthorized access to driving records.

A few years ago, dispatcher Deleena Rankin began making mistakes at work. Though unknown at the time, she was suffering from a brain tumor.

Solomon went to the dispatcher and asked her to resign or face criminal charges for pulling the driving record of a former boyfriend, Rankin said. And while officers contend Solomon would usually follow through on her promise to not file charges if the employee agreed to resign, in this case Solomon asked the district attorney to file charges on the dispatcher after she resigned. The court sentenced Rankin to one year of probation.

“It was common practice (pulling driving records without a legal reason). Sgt. Dave Buffard looked his son up, and the chief also had her son looked up,” Rankin said. “I had been a dispatcher for 29 years.”

Officer Jon Tatro, the current police officer association president, recently filed a lawsuit against the department regarding the chief’s implementation of illegal ticket quotas.  Ticket quotas are illegal under state law because they can pressure police to write bogus tickets to meet the goal, something Tatro refused to do.

Union officials are currently considering a vote of no confidence against the controversial chief.

Solomon was appointed chief of the 30,000-resident city in 2007. She was the first woman to hold positions of sergeant, lieutenant and captain in the department.

During her 20-year career in Paso Robles, she has been past president of the North County Women’s Shelter and chair of the San Luis Obispo County Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention Program.

Clarification: The incident with Solomon allegedly touching McCall occurred in her car, not his. The incident was reported to the city, but not through a formal grievance. Jon Tatro’s Los Angeles attorneys sent the lawsuit for filing and have not yet received confirmation.


563 Comments

  1. pasojim says:

    Well, it seem as though this issue has pretty much ran it course. Legal charges have supposedly been filed, A settlement will probably happen and part of the settlement will be the particulars of the settlement will have to kept quiet and the whole thing will officially be under the carpet.

    The best thing that has come of this story is the response of the citizens that responded to this story, both the ones that actually typed in a comment, or the ones that just clicked the Like or Dislike button.

    To Crusader, Standup, Cindy and any other citizens that represented the rest of us at the city council meeting, THANK YOU!

    It is obvious to me there is a small segment of Paso citizens that condone this type of behavior weather it be by our city employees or the people we elect. Statistically speaking a small percentage of our population like cold toilet seats too, but that doesn’t mean they should be in charge of city policy.

    The majority of us citizens (silent Majority) have little or NO representation in our city and NO say it how it runs. I am sure us citizens are responsible for the way things are done in our city, through our apathy, or not wanting to be bothered by it, or just thinking that the people we have there are looking out for our best interest. They are not.

    I am suggesting this thought to all of you who have responded to this story, That we start a Committee of Correspondence. To develop a way for responsible citizens to communicate. Every citizen either has a piece of information about something that is happening in our city or can offer a unique perspective on the information but it doesn’t make into the hands of the people it will directly effect. There just needs to be some way of putting all these pieces together so we can all make informed decisions about the way our city is run.

    I hope the cold toilet seat brigade is only a small segment of our population and the silent majority of us can start to make a difference.

    If you agree and would like to be involved, send your Email address to : prcommitteeofcorre@sbcglobal.net

    If you don’t have an Email address, call me at 239-9158 with your home address and we will get the info to you another way.

    If any of you have a better way of growing this list I am open to all suggestions.

    It is time citizens had some say in the affairs of our city. I look forward hearing from you.

    Remember: Government hates an educated public.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 3

    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      If public officials try to sweep it “under the carpet,” the public should file lawsuits to open up the books and get full disclosure. Don’t take it lying down!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  2. manmouse says:

    Aren’t there any pictures? There must be some pictures of the hot tub gathering.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  3. slowtime says:

    I love this line in the article;
    Mayor Duane Picanco said he was surprised by the assertions: “That’s news to me,” he said. “And I mean that.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

    • highdude says:

      Although Parkinson really made no comment in the paper today about the Paso PD problems, he did not hesitate to say he brought his men in to Paso Robles because it was the hub of activity for the then North County gang problems.

      I might also add that SLOSO has been ordered not speak about the Paso PD problems. This is a true gesture of professional courtesy on his part.

      You got to hand it to Ian, he is a class act!

      He gave me my first marijuana ticket while he was employed at Morro Bay PD!

      Dude!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

      • cheseburger says:

        WAS YOUR LICENSE UP TO DATE? I guess, we have to much time on our hands?
        Wait untill you need a cop! Fight or flight and throw your key board at the guy who’s trying to kill you. Or? Just lay down and let them have thier way with you?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

        • The Gimlet Eye says:

          Nowadays, it’s letting the COPS have their way with us more than the conventional criminals.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  4. cheseburger says:

    I say she seemed to be able to find water, so what the hell, she could save us all, it’s a drout!
    This, fry, the horny police chief is wrong, so, she’s a nimfo, so what, did she shoot her partner in a Santa Maria Street. Hell NO! She didn’t, just had him kneel at her feet! Get over it, remember the pismo cop who sodomised the minor boy, in exchange for freedom, throw away his key, in this unique story, I feel men should have been in better control of their weapons!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

    • Typoqueen says:

      When did that Pismo cop thing happen? I’ve lived here for a long time, I don’t remember that.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

      • cheseburger says:

        1990s or so , it’s real,
        just like the Gearhart being drunk thing, I don’t post it if it didn’t happen, cheers to the queen, I like your posts.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

      • cheseburger says:

        Also, no need to mention how bad deeds get buried quickley like skelitons in the closet.
        I was once contacted by Miss Soloman and I did notice the up and down look over she gave me, didn’t think anything of it at the time but, being no couch potatoe, I feel flattered now and I didn’t even know,,,,,,,, it was her until I saw the picture, bottom line, even though slightly wide, she’s cute and some men just can’t say NO!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

    • highdude says:

      FACT #1: Solomon married four times

      FACT #2: All four husbands have been Paso Robles Police Officers

      FACT #3: The Paso Robles PD is running out of officers to marry, therefore the lifting of the hiring freeze

      FACT#4: If looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and craps like a duck it must CHIEF LISA SOLOMON

      Dude, you fish lipped it!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 6

    • highdude says:

      Did anyone read the article this morning in the TT? If the TT has jumped on board with this informational piece, and we know they are careful when it comes to journalistic speculation, there is truth to this story folks.

      The part that I liked was that retired police chief Dennis Cassidy, who had recommended her to become his successor was asked to comment on this issue several times by TT reporters. He declined and refused to comment. Hmmmmmmmmmm! You think Dennis is a little pissed at Lisa??? I don’t know the guy but if he gave his stamp of approval he must be getting a real ribbing from some of his formed cop buddies

      This is what will happen; the city will be served with a lawsuit by this Ofc. Lux. It will not go to trial and the city will settle out of court because it most likely will bring out some of the most embarrassing sexual escapades that only one would find in a magazine column like Penthouse Forum!!!

      I can just see this Penthouse article; it was a beautiful Carmel evening, just me and the Chief in the warming waters of the spa, A 6 OTHER COPS!!! WTF were you thinking Solomon!!!

      Enough said. I need a bong hit and a twinkie and then off to work!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

  5. Crusader says:

    WHAT: Gathering to protest the actions of James App, Lisa Solomon and other PR officials followed by attending the Paso Robles City Council meeting. Please wear RED.

    WHY: For actions/inaction by the above that have led to less safe living conditions in Paso Robles and surrounding areas.

    WHEN: Tonight (February 7) beginning at 6:00. Council meetings begins at 7:30 pm

    WHERE: Paso Robles Library. 1000 Spring Street.

    Please bring your family, a few friends and a neighbor or two. Everyone from SLO County should take part because this effects you too!

    “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

    See you tonight!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

    • cheseburger says:

      Maybe we could hold her down and sew a scarlet letter on her forhead, if this is all everyone from slo county has to do, they have gone mad.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 11

  6. itsadamshame says:

    The demand for an investigation and the passion in that demand does not = Lynch Mob. Total silence by those accused is fueling the fire and is increasing the perception (or reality) that accusations of this magnitude are not going to be investigated by a truly disinterested third party agency. I know that if I was not guilty of what I was being accused of, I would be DEMANDING that investigation PUBLICLY and making SURE there was no conflict of interest so that it could never be said it was compromised. That statement would not be compromising any privacy policy. JMOHO.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

    • highdude says:

      mmn

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

    • highdude says:

      How would you like to be Dennis Cassidy right now? Here’s a guy who entrusted the welfare of the Police Dept. that he worked in for 30 plus years, and the citizens of Paso Robles to Chief Lisa Solomon. He must feel like S$%t right now!

      And if you don’t believe there is a doubles standard in this investigation check this out:

      About one year ago a Paso Robles parks department employee was accused by a woman of soliciting sex from her for money. What do you think happened to him? Well I can tell you: he was IMMEDIATELY (not a day, week or month later) placed on administrative leave until the investigation was completed,which exonerated him of any wrong doing and he returned to work. THAT IS A TRUE STORY MY FRIENDS!!!!

      So again, why is Chief Solomon still working? I think only Jim App and Lisa Solomon can answer that question! She certainly cannot be an effective leader at the moment with all that has come to light.

      An interim chief should step in from an outside agency or a contract position created. You certainly cannot trust Curley and Moe (Burton and Lewis) to run the show. Hell, they failed to report any of this to City Hall. Honest and Integrity is really lacking at the top of PRPD’s Admin.

      Hey, someone put some water in my bong that smoke is too hot!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

      • manyworries says:

        She should be behind bars. Isn’t sexual assault a CRIMINAL matter… or did she change the laws to accomodate her uncontrollable, vulgar acts.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

    • glockonthedot says:

      It’s easy to say DEMAND and get an Investigation by a neutral 3rd party but most of the time it doesn’t happen unless the media is involved as I was the victim of a Trooper in Oregon that came after me while I was a city cop. I had turned him in for several things I couldn’t turn a blind eye on including accepting bribes and they fried my azz!!! Small town, he had the DA and Judge even my own Chief wimped out and allowed the trumped up charge of theft (My son took a rock from a mountain) I kid you not!!!!!!! I had lived all my life squeaky clean and they tossed me in jail like a criminal on a Friday afternoon so I would be stuck for 3 days…That was in the year 2000 and I raised hell for Justice and got none. I threatened to sue the city and State, my Chief retired early and the trooper relocated and the DA drug the bogus case on for 3 and 1/2 years costing me thousands of dollars before it was dismissed!!! I lost all faith in the Constitution, the System and Law…
      I miss being a Police Officer but it’s not worth all the stuff you have to turn a blind eye to or you get Dead Air when you radio for assistance, end up in jail and shamed…I hope everyone involved in this scandalous chief gets nailed…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

      • cheseburger says:

        Okay I hear you, and have been there, now try suing Jay Miller and Kelly Gearhart in a beloved Paso Court of frieds and mentors.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  7. ON2U says:

    This scandal has put a stain on Paso Robles that will never, ever go away. Thanks, Solomon, App, et al

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

    • highdude says:

      And what type of stain would that be?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

      • cheseburger says:

        Dang high dude, you got some good stuff, “what kind of stain”, all I can say is get on it quick with cold water, and don’t come back with a blue light!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  8. Russ J says:

    Well folks……. This story just went viral. KFI’s John and Ken show of Los Angeles just aired this story to their 2 million plus listeners. They quoted Cal Coast news in the show. (KFIAM640.com – the truth serum of talk radio.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

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