Paso Robles gangs, civic concern growing

October 27, 2011

Lisa Solomon

Residents of Paso Robles and other North County communities are keenly aware of a growing gang presence in their neighborhoods, but many public officials continue to pretend nothing is wrong. [NewTimes]

In recent weeks, law enforcement agencies have banded together into a “task force” to deal with the proliferation of gangs and gang-related violence, but at the same time city and county budget writers are shaving funds for youth activities as fast as their blue pencils can scratch.

Paso Robles Mayor pro Tem John Hamon told New Times that he is “aware of gangs in our town, along with many others up and down the coast.” Hamon said the city has a “zero tolerance” for gang activities, and that the city “must keep our (police) department strong and with a presence that sends the correct message to this element.”

It was recently reported by CalCoastNews that police personnel in Paso Robles have been thinned drastically —  from 40 officers in 2007 to 27 in 2010 — and that priorities for police response to emergency calls have been rearranged so that only “top level” emergencies are answered in a timely fashion.

Paso Robles officials have approved the hiring of four new officers in the aftermath of widespread public criticism of the department’s performance.


Ok at first this may sound ridiculous but I have a serious question for y’all. Let’s just assume that you’re all right and Paso has a growing gang problem. My question to you is: What about gangs, specifically, has you concerned? And can you tell me how gangs have effected your life, specifically, or the life of someone close to you, that was not in a gang?


Grafitti, going out @ night, gang types showing up @ your kid’s parties, bullets flying, drug dealing in your neighborhoods, your kids getting into any kind of an argument with a gangster, your car getting stolen, your house getting burgled, paying to put their a$$es in prison, paying to de-tattoo them and on and on.


Ok so let’s look at concerns/perception and factual information.

Let’s start with the cold hard facts… All of the following crimes have seen a downward trend the past several years in Paso Robles: Murders, Assaults, Auto Thefts.

The following are up somewhat over the last couple years, but the same as or lower than they were in the early 2000’s: Rape, Robberies, Burglaries (but down SHARPLY since 2003/2004.)

Arson (about the same)



So my first questions is: If gang activity is on the rise, why is crime declining?

Now I just want to share some thoughts on the items you mentioned.

Grafitti – totally understand, there is definitely more graffiti coming from hispanics partly because of their particular cultural history… I would suggest, however, that like anything else there is some good and some bad. If the residents are willing to be open to more hispanic art around them, provides some venues and workshops, then it’s possible to turn taggers into urban artists and you will at least get to experience more of the good side of this.

Going out at night.. well, this is more like a symptom that you experience, as opposed to a specific concern about them.

Showing up at your kid’s parties.. these guys aren’t showing up at your kids parties unless your kid scores the greenest weed on campus, for sure. If you are fine with your kids having parties like this, then you might have other issues to worry about.

Bullets flying. I can understand this is a concern. But have their been any incidents of random shootouts in areas where there were otherwise innocent people?

Drug dealing in your neighborhoods. I ASSURE you that this already goes on, it’s just done in a way that’s a bit more sly. If you’re talking about an actual drug house with people coming and going all the time, I understand and that would need to be dealt with, but otherwise why let it bother you if you notice a Mexican neighbor hooking a buddy up with a joint? The white kids are doing it too.

Car theft. Everyone is talking about the gang problem increasing, and so if car theft was a gang related crime then you would expect to see it rise. But here are the facts, it’s WAY down county-wide.

Paying to put their asses in prison – well, it doesn’t seem like they’ve really contributed to the overall crime rate in Paso, so it wouldn’t really be fair to blame any *increase* on keeping prisoners on account of the ‘gangs.’

Your thoughts? And I encourage people to continue to answer this question. Let’s hash this out and get right down to the nitty gritty deals on what this problem is..

Now, with gangs on the increase, have their been any incidents of random gunfire in neighborhoods or where otherwise innocent people are?

The Gimlet Eye

NY police corruption now includes a $1-million gun-smuggling scheme plus ticket fixing and stolen shipments of cigarettes. Everything is possible “so long as the price is right.” CBS News 2011 Oct 25


As I indicated in my previous posts on this subject, I have drug deals going down in my parking lot. Actually, they transpire in front of my office window. My windows are tinted, so those persons who pull up to my window clearly have no idea we can see. I have contacted the PRPD and have had 2 LEOs call and speak to me within the last month. They tell me my complex must be the focus of a “big sting” and they are very sorry we have to go through this. Seriously? That’s it? No assistance whatsoever?

Since I have been a tenant there, we have had an armed robbery, 2 child abductions, a hit and run into my building, multiple thefts, continual graffiti, and one of the suspects in the Farm House Motel murder lived in a house across the street from my building….and they are “sorry”?

We observe drug deals nearly every day; some days there are two or three. Nothing has changed. PRPD knows of this and are doing NOTHING!

But they are “very sorry”…

Mr. Holly


How many times do you have to be told that there is no gang or criminal activities in Paso Robles? It appears to be quite clear that the chief isn’t aware of the problem, doesn’t care, doesn’t know what to do or probably all of the above. The citizens of PR should be in an uproar over the situation.

Of the other 6 incorporated cities in the County how many have had to have the Sheriff’s Department come into their city to address the situation that doesn’t exist?

Lisa needs to be sent down the road, the situation needs to be addressed by the city council and immediate action should be taken to remove her. She should be fired so that the taxpayers are not stuck with some huge separation agreement.


well said, Mr.Holly–especially the “huge separation agreement” part. I’m sadly confident that part will happen anyway. :( Once again, the taxpayers will get screwed to get rid of an incompetent public “servant” like Lisa Solomon Chitty.


Excuse me but all of the unincorporated areas have gang problems… The north county is just the latest in getting up to speed.

The Gimlet Eye

danika, you are looking at this “drug problem” from the wrong end of the telescope. Don’t get me wrong, this stuff should not be happening around you, just as you say, but consider this: who is behind the “drug problem” to begin with? It may surprise the hell out of you:

Drug Trade – L. Fletcher Prouty

The drug trade – US spends billions of dollars to have an impenetrable Air Defense system. Col. Prouty was one of the founders of Air Defense Command so he knows exactly what its business is and how it works. Why are the drugs still getting in? Why is NORAD not alerting law enforcement? Because there is COLLUSION between the drug traffickers and the government! In fact, THEY HAVE MERGED!


Gimlet, do you also think meth should be legalized? Cocaine? What should the legal age be for taking such drugs? Just wondering…

The Gimlet Eye

Hold on there, pasoparent5. Let’s not put the cart before the horse! Before getting into that other stuff, we need to settle the issue of the involvement of the U.S. government in the drug trade. Do you approve of this? Did you bother to watch the video? It’s not very long. Opinion?

Did you hear about Wachovia’s 300-400 BILLION in money laundering? Get the connection?

I support the legalization of drugs. We already have one legal; it’s call alcohol. Same for the rest.


Too bad danika doesn’t work at a downtown wine bar; the cops would assist her asap. Who cares about the locals! But God forbid some wine-tasting tourists or Amgen bike race visitors are exposed to Paso’s crime element.


If Paso Robles has a gang problem and a problem with the piece of police, then concerned citizens should band together and go enmass to the next City Council meeting. Public opinion is everything to elected officials. We could circulate a petition, or I guess OCCUPY PASO to get our voice heard.

The Gimlet Eye

Maybe the gangs are paying the police to stay away???????


The thought has crossed my mind, Gimlet!

The Gimlet Eye

Why not? It’s been done before! Police corruption is widespread. If the gangbangers are smart, that’s what they will try to do. Police are notorious the world round for feeling underappreciated and considering themselves underpaid.


Lisa is a joke. She loses her gun and has Parkinson come in and clean up her gang problem. She and her husband bankrupted their sign company and didn’t even pay back their creditors and clients even though they make 350k per year. Corruption at its finest.


Write, call, or email the city council. We need a new police chief, someone with chief experience and someone from outside the Paso police department. The city has received many, many complaints about our incompetent police chief. Keep up the pressure.


This is not something the PD can cure, only the public can stop this vermin from growing. If you see something illegal, if you see gang activity, if you see drug deals going down for heavans sake call 911. It is up to us to take back our towns. Start a neighborhood watch, ask for or volunteer for a citizen watch patrol, there are many proactive things we can do but just sitting and waiting for LE to respond after the fact is going to be fruitless…


You do realize that for every legitimate gang call they are going to receive 50 from people who are just suspicious because they thought they saw Mexicans acting “suspicious”, right?


mkaney. You don’t live here and you don’t know what you’re talking about. We don’t even have enough officers to answer “suspicious” calls, and calls about drug deals going down are often not answered either.


Maybe that is WHY you don’t have enough officers to answer all the “suspicious” calls. Is it possible that the reason the police act as if there is no problem, is that if they formally recognize it, they know they are going to get inundated with calls from people who might tend to be suspicious of young Mexican males? (which could delay them in responding to an actual crime)


No! Apparently you are projecting. We are used to young Hispanic males all over the place. It’s only when they are committing a crime that the police are called. Do you believe that all young Hispanic males should be exempt from policing??? Then advocate that for SLO. For someone associated with the food industry that relies on illegals for workers, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.


Of course I do not think that Hispanic males should be exempt from policing. But the people commenting after you pretty much made my point. Look, you may be sincere, and I’m not trying to accuse you in particular of this behavior, but can you honestly tell me that there are not a good number of people in the area (not just Paso) that interpret anything they see a minority male doing in a negative context? I’ve lived in this area a long time, and I think I’ve got a good sense on what people’s attitudes are. You know darn well that there are a ton of people, especially if their fear is fed, will constantly call the police because they misinterpret something.


I live in Paso and most of the ‘young hispanics’ ARE doing something suspicious!!! Hello!!!!!


my2cents, I wouldn’t quite agree…though if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…it’s not a goose! In other words, when I see (and I do frequently!) 3 or 4 Hispanic males 15-20yrs old, loitering in a local park…or WalMart/grocery store parking lot after 11pm…exposed boxers, pants hangin’ down, ball caps turned sideways, some have gang-looking tats on their arms (some on their NECKS–eww!!) Well, I have to think that yeah, those “young Hispanics” sure look suspicious! And yeah–I AM profiling (it’s called having discernment!)

And increasingly, that same element can be seen in broad daylight so I gotta wonder–why aren’t you in school? Don’t you have a job? What are you up to?


mkaney, Drive over the grade and see reality for yourself. Cruise through Oak Park any night after sundown…or drive through the overcrowded, slummy eapartment complexes near Sherwood Park. Take your tally sheet and do your own research to see what the demographics are in those areas. Facts are facts, like ’em or not.

Oh, and those lovely “PR13” grafitti tags popping up all over town–well, they aren’t from a Caucasian gang. Also those low-life gang-bangers creeping down from Salinas/King City & up from Santa Maria…well, those aren’t white skinhead gangs either.

So spare us your race-baiting comments, especially since you don’t even seem to reside in Paso. Locals know that there ARE areas in Paso to avoid after dark…and we all know the demographics of those areas.


Well put paso, those who deny the existence of gangs are living in a fantasy world. Once the camels nose is under the tent, soon the whole damn thing is moving right in…

To anyone doubting the existence of gang activity, do a little time driving around our county and take note of what you see. What happens at night when you are home and safe is the stuff we are talking about…


Ok, so let’s say that I accept the existence of gangs. Wouldn’t this imply an increase in crime would go along with it?


It could be that they are simply working towards geographical continuity to create a buffer zone or are building numbers at this stage for future endeavors northwards. The fact is there has been a visible increase in gang activity in the last couple of years, even if it isn’t reflected in crime stats.

The Gimlet Eye

I’ll lay you dollars to donuts that the POLICE ARE IN ON IT!!!!!!!!


“Top level emergency calls” must include keeping officers on the streets that intersect Vine St. at all times watching for anyone who might do a California rolling stop at any of the myriad of stop signs along Vine street. After all getting $243.00 (ticket for stop sign violation) from as many people as possible has got to be a city priority because of the budget short fall. Investigating gang activity, preventing violent crime and arresting gang members is only a drain on city finances, not a money maker. At least we know the chief and department have their priorities straight…..Okay, okay I’ll take the tongue out of my cheek now..

The Gimlet Eye

Well said. Follow the money. It works every time it’s tried.

Mr. Holly

The buck stops at the top. The moral at the PR police Department I hear is rock bottom. The lack of leadership in the department compunds into the low moral problems which also bleeds down to the end result of inefficient police operations. I think the Paso Robles City Council needs to pull their heads out of the ground and address the issue of the inadequate police chief that is currently “serving” their city. It is quite obvious that the chief needs to be replaced mainly for being unqualified, inefficient and demoralizing for the not only the department but also for the city and finally for the profession.


Yea they need to demote Lisa and put her back where she did best. In charge of the D.A.R.E. program.


The Singing Chief should be fired, not demoted. Any law enforcement officer–chief or not–who leaves her loaded gun in an unlocked vehicle (then the gun gets stolen!) should be gone. Her attitude of “do as I say, not as I do” has been a problem since the start of her reign.

Besides–how is she supposed to manage the dept’s budget when she can’t keep her own finances in order? After her & her hubby’s t-shirt business went bankrupt, it was clear this woman was not a good fit. She was a token female hire–Dennis Cassidy’s Girl Friday–who’s turned out to be an epic FAIL. City Manager refuses to fire her because he has issues of his own and doesn’t have the backbone necessary to give Lisa the ax.

As for DARE, that program’s been gone from Paso schools for a few years now…and I don’t mind at all. It was a total waste of taxpayer money. Besides, Chief Lisa showed up at one of my kid’s elem schools for a DARE assembly a few years back & it was a classic Lisa moment. The teachers & principal were up on the stage–and Lisa arrives in a low-cut frilly blouse, tight ill-fitting slacks and pumps…bar-hopping karaoke attire. Chief Lisa was at my kid’s school in a professional law-enforcement capacity yet couldn’t be bothered to actually put on her police uniform!! Fellow parents & I could not believe that SHE was our police chief!

Not sure why all the surprise about Paso’s increasing gang problem when, as has been mentioned, our police chief is incompetent, unprofessional and ill-suited for the job. Heck, Paso’s so-called “Safe Streets” program had to be headed up by Sheriff Ian & other law-enforcement officials because Chief Lisa cannot manage her job by herself!


*Just to clarify…for those few Chief Lisa supporters out there,…When Lisa’s in “mom” mode (at the gym, market, school)…I could care less if she wears those Juicy Couture sweats or frilly low-cut blouses. That’s her choice. But when she came to the DARE assembly, she was there to speak to the kids as the police chief. Instead, she came dressed for Friday night karaoke and she looked totally unprofessional.

Mr. Holly

Say what you want. Wade McKinney at Atascadero had the backbone and evidently the support of his city council to address whatever problem they had with their police chief.


I wouldn’t applaud how A-town’s council and city manager handled Mulhall’s suspicious sudden “retirement”; they screwed up enough to get the grand jury involved. Poor A-town has pretty much owned the term “lack of transparency” for years. Sadly, Paso’s government is increasingly right there with ’em. I’m ready to vote them ALL out & start fresh. Too bad City Manager Jim App wasn’t elected. He & other appointed city officials need to GO.


A nice picture of the police person but she is not mentioned in the article specifically.


Since the article was lifted from the New Times, it is necessary to wear the tin hat and read between the lines. If you have no hat, you can borrow fron TOQ


Geez, you must miss me. Don’t worry, I’m here.


Black_Copter needs to get a new rant. He has been carrying on about tin hats since the inception of Uncovered SLO ( over 4 years) although he doesn’t grace us with his presence as much as he used to, it’s still the same old rhetoric.


I can’t even find tin foil anymore! Does aluminum work?


Not really, but your cell phone will get better reception!


try a collander