Paso Robles police department accused of retaliation
January 25, 2013
By KAREN VELIE
A Paso Robles Police officer who filed a lawsuit against the city claiming the former chief initiated an illegal ticket quota scheme and punished officers who didn’t make their quotas filed a second retaliation claim against the city last week.
In the claim, Officer Jon Tatro says city administrators and interim Chief Robert Burton retaliated against him by making working conditions intolerable. Because of the alleged retaliation, Tatro resigned from the department in December.
“It is very hard to end my 26 years of service to the City of Paso Robles this way,” Tatro said. “I very much look forward to my day in court and I will let the outcome speak to the validity of my actions as compared to that of the administration.
“It has been my privilege to serve alongside so many great city employees. It has also been my honor to serve the great people of Paso Robles. I have made a lot of great friends within the community throughout my career and for that I will always be grateful.”
City manager Jim App responded to Tatro’s claim of retaliation by sending an email to City Attorney Iris Yang and Burton that said one word, “Predictable.”
For several years, Tatro had complained to city officials that command staff had mandated that each officer write at least 10 tickets a month, and preferably 14 or more, in order to avoid disciplinary action. Ticket quotas are illegal under state law, because they can pressure police to write bogus tickets to meet the goal.
Tatro’s original suit was the first in three actions filed in 2012 by present and former police officers against the city and scandal-plagued Chief Lisa Solomon-Chitty, who left her post March 20 packing a $250,000 payout from taxpayers.
In a suit filed in May, Brennan Lux accuses his former boss, Solomon-Chitty, of repeatedly making sexual advances toward him, and terminating him when she was rebuffed. The suit accuses city staff and officials of creating a hostile work environment and ignoring allegations of retaliation.
In July, former Paso Robles Police Department veteran David Hernandez filed a suit against the city alleging he was retaliated against by Solomon-Chitty for his union activities.
Claims lodged against the city which have been routinely dismissed by city officials, are precursors to filing of a lawsuit.