Protect, Serve And Sell T-Shirts.

August 11, 2008


A San Luis Obispo police officer peddles custom imprinted T-shirts, sometimes while on duty, as a federal bankruptcy court considers his twin Chapter 7 petitions.

Officer Christopher Charles Chitty apparently runs the cash business from the home he shares with his wife, Lisa Solomon, Paso Robles’ chief of police.

Chitty said Sunday that the business, Trick Tape, no longer exists. An investigation by suggests otherwise.

The pair filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition in May for a business they jointly owned called Sign Sensations Inc., a promotional printing company. Chitty subsequently filed for individual protection July 17 in Santa Barbara’s U.S. District Court. In court documents, Chitty and Solomon listed debt totaling $1,039,182; assets of $512,000; and $550 in available cash.

Monthly expenses were reported to be $13,991, including $800 for entertainment and $2,792 for transportation and vehicle costs.

Solomon manages a $10 million police department budget.

None of the documents provided to the court in either action by Chitty and his wife mention an ongoing business called Trick Tape.

Shortly after the couple launched Trick Tape in 2004, they added T-shirt printing and a new name, Sign Sensations.

Within two years, though, Sign Sensations was allegedly in financial difficulties and near its end. According to a recent memorandum from Solomon to her officers, “…the business was too young and hit too hard by the downturn in real estate and local development… to be able to hang on in this recession.”

The memo, a copy of which was provided to, noted the chief and her husband then “closed up shop, but the business had significant debt in equipment and inventory.”

By this time, though, Sign Sensations already had been resurrected, again as Trick Tape.

In January 2007, a listing for Trick Tape was added to an online local business directory, The listing provides a number for a cell phone which is answered by Chitty. A business location currently mentioned in the listing is in an undeveloped area near Union and Kleck roads in Paso Robles. The Trick Tape Web site was most recently updated in July 2007.

Since folding Sign Sensations, Chitty has been re-hired as an officer for the San Luis Obispo Police Department, where he worked in a similar capacity prior to his unsuccessful stint in business.

Contacted on his cell phone Saturday by a reporter posing as a customer seeking information about volume T-shirt sales, Chitty said, “Yes, this is Trick Tape. I can help you with those.” During the course of a conversation, Chitty suggested that design proofs be sent to

Later that same evening, at 7:35 p.m., Chitty placed a call to the reporter to discuss further details of a sale, including pricing and specific T-shirt brands.

According to a San Luis Obispo police dispatcher, Chitty had gone on duty at 6 p.m. Chitty was said to be “out of the office, probably in the field” when a reporter asked to talk to him.

“Your public safety dollars hard at work,” commented one San Luis Obispo Police Department source familiar with Chitty’s actions.

Asked Sunday if he ever conducted a private T-shirt business while on duty as a San Luis Obispo police officer, Chitty said, “I have no comment.”

Around six months ago, Chitty applied to the San Luis Obispo Police Department. Openings for police officer jobs are competitive, with applicants selected after intensive hiring reviews.

Uniformity in hiring standards for police departments was the state legislature’s intent in 1959 when it authorized the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to “select minimum selection and training standards.” Applicants for peace officer jobs undergo background checks that include in-depth credit checks.

“The department did a thorough background check [on Chitty] with a polygraph, credit check, and fingerprinting,” said San Luis Obispo Police Capt. Dan Blanke. “It doesn’t mean someone has to have perfect credit,” Blanke responded when asked if Chitty’s credit and litigation problems raised a red flag. “We are pleased to have him back working with us.”

Blanke said the background check “was sent to POST for a thorough review.”

Gary Manini, a POST law enforcement consultant, said that police departments do not send background check results to the commission for a critique.

“We do random visits and review hires. We don’t look at backgrounds except for automatic disqualifiers,” Manino said.

“You better write the truth,” Blanke told a reporter. “They dotted all their ‘i’s and crossed all their ‘t’s, and if you write that the hiring was due to a favor between chiefs without the usual background review, Chief (Deb) Linden said to me in an earlier conversation that she will use the full extent of the law to go after you.”

Linden chairs the POST commission.

POST’s manual states, “The purpose of the background investigation is to verify the absence of past behavior indicative of unsuitability to perform the duties of a peace officer or public safety dispatcher. The candidate’s credit records determine credit standing with lenders as an indication of the candidate’s dependability and integrity.”

Chapter 7 is designed for debtors in financial trouble who do not have the ability to pay their existing debts, according to the bankruptcy code. Debtors whose financial difficulties are primarily due to consumer debt are subject to a “means test” — if income is greater than the median income for the state in which they reside, the court may deny the petition.

In California, the median income, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was $74,801 in 2006 for a family of four. Chitty and his wife’s combined income is approximately $220,000 per year, according to their sworn statements on the bankruptcy petitions. Chitty and Solomon have stated in court documents that their “debts are primarily business debts” and that no inventory from the business remains.

Those court documents also assert the pair has “50 to 100” creditors including Kohl’s, Mervyns, and Gottschalk’s. Levitz Furniture is owed $13,119; Chitty and Solomon claim their household goods and furnishings are worth approximately $3,000.

About $20,000 in sales taxes remains in arrears. Four different creditors have filed lawsuits against the couple in the past few years. In two of the lawsuits, the court sided with plaintiffs. The other two remained active at the time of the most current bankruptcy filing.

Tags:, bankruptcy, chief of police, chitty, paso robles, solomon

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Member Opinions:

By: Anonymous on 8/29/08

It is hard to believe that the Paso City Council is not taking action on Chief Solomon and opening up an internal investigation run by the SLO DA's Office. Thease are serious allegations and something needs to be done. SAme applies for Chief Linden for making a poor choice and hiring this unethical officer.

By: Anonymous on 8/29/08

By: Anonymous on 8/27/08

Thanks! Sales have never been better.

By: Anonymous on 8/23/08

Hedges will be there for years to come, much to the chagrin of the red-eye set.

Mark my words.

By: Anonymous on 8/23/08

It's going to be Dale Strobridge and Mike Brennler (they negotiate together) against anybody for Sheriff.

By: Anonymous on 8/22/08

What's wrong with selling a few shirts on the side? At least it wasn't porn like the other guy….

By: Anonymous on 8/21/08

Why would a guy who has a $200,000 household income with no debts (after filing BK) be selling T-shirts. Passion for T-shirst. Love of T-shirts. Its just T-shirts give him a break. He's obviously addicted to T-shirt production. He can't stop. It's like all you people that go to Starbucks everyday. You can't stop.

By: Anonymous on 8/20/08

ok, let's put it all together… fairgoer's attacked after the fair by "alleged pr-13", police deny…prpd has maintained there's no gang problem…residents KNOW there is…prpd has maintained no drug problem…residents know there is…has paso been bought? Generally, a police officer can be terminated because of a negative financial situation. It is because there's usually a concern they will accept a bribe. It is kinda a relief to see a bankruptcy go public. It will be interesting to see if their situation "miraculously" improves.

By: Anonymous on 8/20/08

Here's an interesting side note. One of the people involved in the recent 'bigfoot' scam a sworn officer, has been fired.

"Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner said he has not spoken to Whitton but processed paperwork to fire him.

"Once he perpetrated a fraud, that goes into his credibility and integrity," Turner said. "He has violated the duty of a police officer."

By: Anonymous on 8/19/08

There just stinking T-shirts. Give me a break will ya.

By: Anonymous on 8/17/08

Agreed, both chiefs must resign immediately! Linden hands a plumb job to Solomon's husband. Solomon lies in sworn paperwork. She can't even manage her own household on $220k. Linden threatens a reporter. I can't remember the last time This is such a compelling, disturbing investigative piece. Let me tell you, the ploice is not the only group that is bad in SLO. That whole city government, including a certain mayor and utilities dept has some major problems that have been hidden for years,

By: Anonymous on 8/16/08

To Tired: Amen! I think he was conducting more than POA business on the Sheriff Dept's time when he was "visiting" the police department…!

By: Anonymous on 8/16/08

These people have an addiction to spending money. It can be just as harmful as a drug addiction and they need professional help. They are just one of so many others in our country who have this same addiction. So sad.

By: Anonymous on 8/16/08

I am an ex-reporter. The state of the media is such that editors don’t allow or edit beyond recognition most investigative stories. There is no longer a wall between sales and editorial. There is a belief that hard hitting stories are unappealing to advertisers.

Why do you think newspapers are loaded with young writers? Experienced reporters often quit over that big story that never saw the light of day. I personally would rather work with Dan and Karen than the Tribune.

Also, the internet is the new frontier of journalism.

By: Anonymous on 8/16/08

Yes, attorney equals officer of the court equals public servant.

By: Anonymous on 8/16/08

Sheriff's race preview:

Jerry Lenthall v Dale Strobridge

Can't wait!

By: Anonymous on 8/16/08

Oh come on. All the papers have blogs. It gives people a chance to weigh in. Occasionally they are a source of good information. The EFI and Hurst investors used these blogs to contact each other and share. They made a lot of progress because of these blogs. Blogs can also be very entertaining. Thats why I read this one.

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

If they are such great reports why are they doing this stupid blog?

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

Everything written in Dan & Karen's stories is true. If they can't prove it, they don't write it. They have been called a liar on near every story they write. People have even gone on the radio and called them liars in public. Regardless how much people try to deny the facts provided by U-SLO, they (U-SLO) come out right on the money every time. As for the bog, well take what you want from it and leave the rest.

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

Yeh' everything written on the internet is true………………………..

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

I'm staying on track and that means only looking at what was reported in this story. Isn't it clever to be using the privacy rules to refuse to answer why Chitty was hired with such a bad credit history. You want to tell us that "maybe the other guy had big problems". That is no reason to hire someone that can't meet the POST criteria. Do you want us all to believe that no other officers wanted that position? Bullshit. I don't care what the motive might have been for some LEO's to contact Dan & Karen. The facts are the facts and the facts are true.

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

Look at what the original story was: a source inside the SLOPD dislikes Chitty. Chitty and his wife make some bad financial decisions. Chitty is called by UC SLO and he makes another bad decision. “Your public safety dollars hard at work,” commented one San Luis Obispo Police Department source familiar with Chitty’s actions. Wow. The source makes negative comments about Chitty. Could happen anywhere in any business.

Chitty is hired by SLOPD and not the other guy. Maybe he had more problems than Chitty, but because of privacy laws, we’ll never know.

Someone adds to the blogs about other things they think are bad about SLOPD, PRPD, and then some folks unrelated to this story. Wow. Think of the conspiracy: get lots of people to gossip about your possible opponents and start the smear campaign 2 years before you run for sheriff. Think of the possibilities

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

I can answer that one Henry.

Parkinson is a Captian on the SLOPD. He is also the one that bought Chitty's boat although the timing and price of the purchase is not yet clear. I have haerd that it was a 70,000 to 80,000 dollar boat which purchased for somewhere over 30,000. Nice price for a wave churning piece of fiberglass

Parkinson is also the head of security at the Mid State Fair and something SLO City needs to investigate is the amount of MidState Fair work and related calls he has attended to (M-F 8-5) in the months immediately before the Fair.

I think the city management would be pissed off if they did a little digging. Then again maybe they would just think it was just another SLO management perk

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

John Galt, you're my hero.

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

For those that were wondering…I have been found and I am well. Living in that book all these years left me feeling a little flat.

But…I'm Back!

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

What the hell are the cops doing raiding people for marijuana? It must have been a big raid. Where did this happen? You aren't talking about the Morro Bay dispensary are you? That was just bullshit.

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

I'm still very curious about the attorney that got caught in the middle of a raid. I've seen people eluding to it and now it has my curiosity. It can't hurt talking about it while we're waiting for the next story here (which I'm sure is do very soon). What city was he in and what happened. Was he at the house working on a defense case for the people smoking a bowl and they all got raided? Too Funny.

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

Always Curious says:

Are you saying that attorney is a public servant? Isn't he in private practice? Do you know him?

—-Aren't attorneys at the bar considered "Officer's of the Court?" If so, then when in the role of an attorney, they would be a public servant.

Any attorneys here care to clarify?

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

So much angst, but interesting material. To "Tired", please elaborate on who or what an "Ian Parkinson" is. How is that name associated with others? Thank You.

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

Are you saying that attorney is a public servant? Isn't he in private practice? Do you know him?

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

That sounds like an interesting story. Why don't you tell us all about it?

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

So, since we're on the topic of ethics, and keeping public servants accountable, when is UncoveredSLO gonna dive head first into the ethical dilemma of the case of the defense attorney caught red handed at the scene of a police raid? I'm biting my nails with anticipation as we type.

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

All this blahblahblah grows tiresome. I'm going to go read the New Times.

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

Go back and read the story.

Chitty wan't hired about a "new" guy.

Chitty was hired over another ex-SLOPD who was returning to service and already had a conditional offer.

By: Anonymous on 8/15/08

All this talk of Chitty and who has been doing what on duty is getting tiresome, but since you all seem interested in continuing the discussion let me add a few comments.

It is my belief that this story was "leaked" by Dale Strobridge, who until recently was President of the San Luis Obispo Police Officers Association. Strobridge did it as a way of getting back at Chitty who has been a vocal oppoenent of the POA and of Dale's antics, such as suing the city for donning and doffing pay.

Dale might also have been motivated by his desire to run for sheriff. By smearing Deb Linden, Lisa Soloman, Dan Blanke and Ian Parkinson he creates some "dirt" to throw at them should any of them run for sheriff in two years.

If we are concerned about who is doing what on duty maybe Uncovered SLO should ask why a sheriff's sergeant was spending som much time at the San Luis Police station conducting SLOPOA union business while he was on duty and being paid by the county of SLO??