Officials ‘knew’ of sexual allegations against chief
February 1, 2012
By DANIEL BLACKBURN and KAREN VELIE
Allegations of sexual misconduct by Paso Robles’ chief of police didn’t surprise everyone, according to a former councilman who said today that the city’s top management and council members have known of the assertions for years.
Lisa Solomon has been accused by current and former officers and non-sworn police department personnel of improper sexual touching and other related activities, setting unlawful ticket quotas, and subsequent retaliation against those who protested.
Solomon, 43, has declined to comment on the allegations, as have all other city officials. She is Paso Robles’ first female chief of police, appointed to her job in 2007 after rising through the ranks.
Gary Nemeth, who retired from the San Luis Obispo Police Department following a 30-year law enforcement career ended by injury, said others in the community have tried to raise alarms about Solomon and her public behavior, to no avail.
“I know they (top city officials) knew about all this, and they decided to let (Paso Robles City Manager Jim) App take care of it. Big mistake,” said Nemeth. “They ignored the signals. Their whole life should be for the health, welfare and safety of the community, and I think they’ve let us down.”
Although current council members “are very aware” of the chief’s alleged behavior, said Nemeth, “it’s an App deal… no one will speak against him. App controls the city.”
Nemeth was a council member from 2000 to 2008, then ran and lost in the past two mayoral elections, so he said he’s probably considered a “malcontent” by some.
“But I care about this community, and when the police can’t perform their job safely, that should be a big red flag for people,” he said.
The department’s officer roster dropped to 1991 levels during the past few years. And new Solomon policies pose an immediate danger to the community and to the officers on the street, according to those interviewed by CalCoastNews.
Nemeth said that particular subject was raised during interviews of mayoral and council candidates by the Paso Robles Police Officers Association (PRPOA) in 2010.
“I’m certain the subject of city and department management policies, practices, and issues were raised in detail” with all candidates as with him, Nemeth said.
The PRPOA released on Tuesday a statement calling for a “safe working environment.”
The letter — which Nemeth called “an amazing step for a police association” — called on city officials to make changes. It read in part: “We write this letter to publicly inform City Manager Jim App and the Paso Robles City Council that they are mandated by law to provide a safe working environment for their employees. The association membership expects to be treated with respect and dignity by our administration as is expected from us.”
Nemeth said the statement “is kind of unprecedented for Paso Robles. It a huge milestone for them to do this, because their jobs are on the line. The community needs to understand this.”