Paso Robles’ police protection dwindling

February 4, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: See Paso Robles Police sworn officers: a current list of department sworn staff; and Paso Robles’ Service Reduction Plan, a mandated plan for reduced police services at the bottom of this story.

By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

Rattled by a recent spike in violent crime, several Paso Robles police officers are questioning the impact the department’s current policy of not always responding to some criminal activities is having on public safety.

Paso Robles has been operating under a reduced police presence for the past year, with stringent new policies requiring that officers not respond to reports of drug activity, driving under the influence, and incidents of vehicular hit and run, whenever the department is operating in “safety mode.”

City Manager Jim App and Chief Lisa Solomon enacted a police department service reduction plan in January 2011 that mandates officers not respond to a long list of crimes during times the department is short-staffed. In addition, the plan changes some day-to-day police response and investigation policies.

For example, during the past year, property thefts with a loss of of $10,000 or less — if not solved immediately by the responding patrol officer — are not forwarded to a detective for further investigation, according to the plan.

“They have taken away officer discretion,” said one officer who asked to remain unnamed to protect him from retaliation. “It (the service reduction plan) is absolutely affecting public safety.”

Due to budget cuts, the department has been thinned from an approved 46 sworn officers in 2007, to 26 officers today.

As a result, the department operated in safety response mode for 587 hours during the past 12 months, said Jim App, the city manager.

That was because of a prior hiring freeze, minus several officers who were placed on paid administrative leave for between four to six months each, and officers who retired or were forced to resign.

During safety mode, only two patrol officers are available to take calls. Dispatchers do not send an officer to 18 types of crimes including battery that is not in progress, theft reports when a suspect is not in custody, drug activity, family disturbances and DUI calls.

“The safety/service response levels were implemented to ensure safety to the public and officers,” App said. “It allows for delayed response to low-level service calls in order to maintain staffing for immediate response to emergency or in-progress calls for service.”

App said he informed city council members of the reduction in services not long after the new program was put into practice.

Councilman Ed Steinbeck said he agrees “that we need to prioritize calls depending on what else is happening at the moment.”

Nevertheless, several officers claim that while Solomon has reduced drug and DUI responses, she is reprimanding officers who do not write enough high-dollar traffic tickets to comply with a questionable ticket quota system further reducing their ability to combat drug and gang activity.

During the past year, Paso Robles’ violent and gang-related crimes have soared with a rash of drug and/or gang-related crimes, including murders, stabbings, robberies, assaults and drive-by shootings.

As a result, officials last year organized a multi-agency task force with a goal of identifying and arresting gang members. During Labor Day weekend, law enforcement personnel including San Luis Obispo County Sheriff deputies blanketed Paso Robles as they rolled out their “Safe Streets” campaign, making 35 arrests and issuing 30 traffic citations.

“We will bring together all resources at my disposal and introduce additional law enforcement partners, including FBI, California Highway Patrol, Monterey County Sheriffs, Probation and Parole, as well as enhancing our local gang task force,” said Sheriff Ian Parkinson during a press conference he held with Solomon in September. “I do not intend to allow this kind of activity in the North County.”

Sheriff department officials did not respond to numerous requests for information regarding the current disposition of the Safe Street campaign and how much assistance the top county law enforcement agency is providing the understaffed Paso Robles Police department.

County wide, law enforcement agencies are short-staffed, mostly by one or two officers. Even so, officials with the county’s other six cities said their police departments are not operating under service reduction plans or safety modes.

 

Paso Robles Police Department sworn officers:

Currently, the Paso Robles Police Department includes 26 sworn officers:

1 chief
1 captain
2 lieutenants
5 sergeants
2 detectives
13 patrol officers
2 patrol officer trainees

 

Paso Robles’ Service Reduction Plan:

PPDSRMemorandum


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CA Native

Paso Robles is a complete joke. They can’t manage their water, their police department or their schools. Apparently, people DO get the government they deserve.


Crusader

That’s why Paso residents need to step-up and gather together beginning at 6:00 pm this Tuesday night at the Paso Library. Wear something RED to show your unity.


whoowhoo

There is also a school board meeting that overlaps the city council meeting.


SLOBIRD

It is also easy to quote “unnamed Officers” who may/may not really have said anything. I know an “unnamed Officer” who said that the only calls they do not respond to IMMEDIATELY are party calls, dogs barking, parking problems and other nuisance calls….”


Dogpound, this works both ways. Paso Management (Chief, Manager AND Council) all go on records as saying they cannot response. 1) we don’t know what complaints have been filed by staff, 2) we don’t know IF there is an investigation ongoing, and 3) what is the time frame for 1 and 2. Apparently, all is fair in love and war and everyone gets to go play “Hide and seek”. Crazy world we live in when seeking the truth!


Crusader

Solomon would be on the warpath right now if she was clean.


pasoparent5

I’ve wondered about that. I realize there are confidentiality laws but if it were me, I’d still issue a press release that proclaimed my innocence while not divulging any specifics.


How about “As the chief public safety officer in this city, I would like to assure my department, city staff and Paso Robles residents that I am completely innocent of any of these allegations which have been levied against me. I will promptly step aside and go on (paid) admin leave while an objective third party fully investigates this matter. “


Crusader

Exactly. Can you imagine (for example) the Chief of the LAPD trying to hide like Solomon is ddoing? If Solomon was clean, she could have a lawyer advise her just how much she can say.


pasoparent5

Yep. It’s been said many, many times before but it’s because she’s a SHE.


How often have we heard how she’s “Paso’s first female police chief” as if being a woman really matters, as if that excuses what she’s allegedly done!


What an embarrassment for Dennis Cassidy, Jim App, and the others who propped up and groomed Lisa to be the “first female chief.” despite her obvious lack of qualifications and laundry list of problems.


At this rate, Lisa has set back the whole gender equality/womens lib movement about 30 years. Not only was she Paso’s first female police chief, but she’ll probably be the last for a long time.


Crusader

I’m not sure it’s an embarrassment for Cassidy and App. I think it’s a lot more than that for them and the former council that appointed Solomon to the position of chief. Why did they do it? She clearly isn’t qualified to be a police chief.


They didn’t even advertise the job from what I understand. This was an inside deal. Something that’s bound to become more and more uncomfortable over the coming days. It’s going to get real ugly. This is one that won’t go away at this point.


It’s not as if Solomon was extremely good at her job while committing several acts of sexual harassment. It appears as if she is incompetent in her job AND that she is a vindictive sexual predator.


Cindy

Crusader, the city council does not appoint the Police Chief. They hire the City manager and the City attorney. The city manager then hires the Police Chief and other high level city employees. Considering that App didn’t follow standard procedure when filling one of the highest held positions in the city, he most likely sold his recommendation to the CC and they gave him an OK. Considering the salary they were offering, It is beyond me how they believed she was even in the top 50% of viable candidates who would have shown an interest. It was clearly about promoting cronies and sticking it to the taxpayers. They should all be voted out at the next election in my opinion.


Crusader

You’re absolutely right but each and every council member had a duty to speak up when:


1.) The standard hiring procedure was not followed for such a critical job.


2.) An obviously sub-standard insider was given the job. Alarm bells should have been going off left and right.


MaryMalone

She has been on the warpath. Unfortunately for all, she has identified her “enemy” as her officers.


Typoqueen

When did she do that?


highdude

The good thing about un-named officers is: they will be named soon by having to testify in at least two of the the lawsuits that are being filed against the city. Once this happens there will be an out-cry to dismiss the Chief.


The way I look at it: it’s going to take about $20,000 just to research the lawsuit by City Attorneys. This does not count what the amount may be if they have to prepare and also go to trial. Then what happens if the City actually has to Pay Out at the end of the trial.


I suggest the city terminate Solomon and hire a new chief at Step 1. This will save money immediately. Then demote Capt. Burton to Sgt. and do away with the captain’s position, which that little department probably never needed anyway. All in all you would have a monthly savings to the city of about $5107 in that move alone. That is enough money to hire at least one more full-time police officer!!!


OK, stop me if I am making too much sense!


Crusader

You make great sense but keep in mind:


Solomon is going to sue if she is canned even though she’s an exempt employee and a sexual predator and that is bough to clog-up your plan just a bit. I very much expect her to pull a Gail Wilcox “I have been sexually harassed” move any day or she’ll go out on disability for “stress” or some other bogus claim.


PRPD needs a class in organizational structure (I guess Lisa missed that while completing her “degree.”) Not only would the captain’s position vanish so would one of the lieutenant’s positions and a sergeant or two.


I think what would ultimately determine if the PRPD continued or contracted with the Sheriff’s Office would be the caliber of the existing captain and lieutenants. If they are trash like Solomon I would close the place down and negotiate a 3 year contract with the Sheriff’s Office to allow some time for planning to begin from ground zero.


danika

Alleged sexual predator.


Typoqueen

danika, I don’t want to hurt your rep with the others but I must say that I do appreciate your stance on this. Throughout these stories, although you appear to be concerned (I am as well believe it or not) you haven’t over reacted and been looking for blood as many of the others.


danika

TQ, I have a rep? LOLOLOL! I’m sure I deserve worse, whatever it may be. In any event, I do believe Lisa Solomon is a poor excuse of a Police Chief and should be held accountable for each and every action (or lack of action) from herself and/or her staff. She absolutely should have the opportunity to speak to the accusations aimed at her and, if found to be true, be held to the same laws as you and I are. I feel the sexual harrassment charges are more likely to be true but time will tell.


Typoqueen

Seeing that I don’t live there you would know more on whether she’s a bad chief or not. The only real problem I have is with the sexual harassment and quota claims and those claims not being verified yet everyone believing them simply off of hearsay. Some people can’t help it if they can’t handle their job and that might be Solomon, it doesn’t mean that she is evil it simply means that she lacks the skills for her position. I have heard numerous claims here by people saying that she did this in a hot tub or she did that. So when I ask, ‘did you see it?’ I get no response. I have seen nothing to verify those claims. But if the city has a higher than ave. crime rate then that speaks for the job of the police dept…unless it’s underfunded.


Bookworm

As far as I’m concerned, if Jon Tatro says there were illegal quotas that prevented him from really performing his job to protect and serve, then I believe him. He is honest and hard working, a good example in our community. Cops like him aren’t out singing in bars. They’re too busy running the Police Activities League functions, caring for the youth in our community.


danika

Again, if the crime rate is determined by those calls the officers actually go out to investigate, and those calls that are not deemed “worthy” to check out are NOT included in the stats, the crime rate does NOT include those calls disregarded by officers. This would mean the crime rate in Paso is understated and inaccurate.


The Gimlet Eye

How the hell can you “verify” a “claim”???


MaryMalone

Perhaps she’ll be convicted of felonies first, sent to prison, where she’ll have the time she will need to sue the city.


MaryMalone

It will take more than that. Look at how much Jon Seitz charges NCSD for his services.


Mr. Holly

Boy it’s going to get interesting now. Bob Cuddy vs. CCN. Fortunately the Super Bowl is today but we may see the next best contest next week when these two start going head to head. At this time I’ll have to say that CCN will eat him up, that is unless The Trib wants to become a reporting newspaper and actually do a factual story.

This should at least be interesting if not fun. Hopefully, since there will be no Monday Night football to entertain us these two will kick it off tomorrow.


pasoparent5

Based on his latest name-calling opinion piece, Bob Cuddy seems rather cowardly to me. I’ve never really agreed w/his viewpoints but this latest “article” was over-the-top. It’s really not a fair fight. CCN has facts and witnesses behind their story. Bob Cuddy has…well…not much.


MaryMalone

I doubt CCN will engage Cuddy. Why bother, when his own stupidity and dishonesty is making CCN’s argument against him for them.


CCN is handling it great. While Cuddy was doing what the inept journalists are usually limited to doing–attacking the journalists who are doing the real work and publishing the hard stories, CCN has published even more articles about Solomon and the City of PR.


SLOBIRD

I can’t believe that in the list of Dept staffing there are 9 management positions for 15 officers and detectives. What is wrong with that picture. When was the last time Lisa was on patrol duty since she has basically wiped out the working staff. This is not wise leadership. Every other City protects is police and fire field staffing and here is Paso reducing it staff by almost half. This leadership (Chief, Manager AND Council) made this happen, they need to be held accountable. This is all wrong!!!


BeenThereDoneThat

So anyone read the piece in the Trib (if anyone reads that rag anymore) from Bob Cuddy today? He refrenced CCN and it’s readers as Swamp Gas. I love it. From all the gas that has spewed from his columns over the years and he says that. What a piece of excrement.


takeabreath

What scares me with some comments is this, people are screaming about “good ole boy” mentality, and cover-ups without looking at due-process. Anyone anywhere can make allegations, yes they absolutely should be investigated and if found true then action should be taken. I also agree it has to be a third party who comes in and does the investigation, so there can be no accusations of bias, or cover-up. But in saying that, why not do a story on why the police officer was fired who is making the sexual allegations? It scares me that some folks are ready to judge and not know all the facts, that is “Good Ole Boy” Mentality at its worst. I just hope everyone steps back, and takes a breath. Don’t rush to judgement demand there is a thorough investigation, and let it run its course. I think everyone agrees that we in Paso have a problem, a problem of crime, a problem with financial spending, and budget cuts, as a City lets pull together not tear each other apart in the process….


TacomaRose

TakeaBreath missed two important aspects concerning this matter.


1. Why isnt the Chief on Admin Leave while the investigation occurs? 99 times out of a hundred a line level employee would be put on such admin leave when multiple complaints or witnesses statements are made suggesting sexual harrasment.


Failing to put the Chief on Admin leave only opens the door to additional complaints concerning a hostile work environment and that translates to additional turmoil and law suits.


2. Its the City Admin who is paying for the investigation with tax payer dollars Will there be a bias to slant this investigation in favor of the city administrators who undoudtedly want this mess to go away?


An outside investigation without any purse strings attached would be a preferable method. An investigation by the Attorney General would undoubtedly be more credible.


takeabreath

If I came across unclear in my earlier post I apologize. Let me clarify, I am only asking to hear all sides of the story. I was born and raised here in Paso Robles, I am very aware of problems in our city. I also believe Due Process is everyone’s right. I am not at all suggesting we sit on our hands and do nothing. When I stated Bias and Cover-Up in the investigation process, that simply meant, Bias to one side or the other, and Cover-Up by not having a thorough investigation. Again, I just have one more question that I am sure will anger those who don’t want to address this or stop and have to think before bashing down City Hall Doors on Tuesday, why haven’t we heard a story about the officers who have made the allegation? No matter how this ends there will be some unhappy people, I simply hope we all Step Back and Take a Breath before things are said without facts.


Typoqueen

OMG, watch what you say, duck the flying shoes. This is how it started with me. I basicly started off with a little post suggesting that it’s always a good idea to hear both sides of story. Let due process do it thing and then make a judgement. Now they think that I’m totally on Solomon’s side, I’m evil bla bla bla. Just saying that I wanted wait to hear the facts just blew their minds. I feel like I can picture the smoke coming out of their ears because they are so mad at that suggestion. Look at the posts. In some I try to give other possible scenarios and for these things people have thrown in Nazis and Charles Manson for my wanting fairness for all involved. There is no neutral in their minds, they can’t deal with that.


The Gimlet Eye

So, after “due process” has taken place, then you can be ABSOLUTELY SURE enough to make a “judgement” that you know for a fact to be the ABSOLUTE TRUTH?


You may, in fact, no NOTHING OF THE KIND!


There is no ABSOLUTE TRUTH!


nocalsignora

I am not sure I understand your question. “the officers who made the allegation?” Which allegation? The officer who filed a complaint with the city for sexual misconduct is Brennan Lux. He has gone on the record with this site and with the Tribune. There were seven other officers present when he was assaulted in the hot tub. 5 of them are still with the PD and 2 have retired. The officer who filed a claim with the city (on behalf off ALL patrol officers as their Union steward) is Jon Tatro. The claim was denied by the city and a lawsuit has been filed. I’m pretty satisfied with that information. What “story” haven’t you seen? I might be able to point you in the right direction.


The question I have for the City and the Chief is “Do you plan to sue CCN for libel?” Your posts imply that you think these allegations were “made up” by CCN or some lone, rogue officers. If that were the case, the City would have clear cause to sue. But we are not hearing that from them, my guess is we won’t, because they can ONLY sue for libel if the information CCN reports is NOT true.


takeabreath

Again, Let me clarify, Brennan Lux was fired from Paso Robles Police Department, when asked why he would not comment,,,this comes from CCN, I am at all not stating to sue anyone…Jon Tatro is indeed in the process of a lawsuit, which has not been settled or a Lawful Decision has not been made. I am not at all on one side or the other, I don’t have the facts yet, I have allegations and again there has been no official investigation made. Please don’t read into written statements I have made. Its feeding the gossip and all I simply asked was for “us” to let Due Process take its course, and not tear each other up by making remarks, or reading into things without facts…Trust me I too am putting on my Hard Hat, I knew the risk I was taking for writing but to imply that I am on one side or the other again, is trying to to mistate my intention. I have read all the stories, listened to the T.V., and am grateful that CCN has reported this, I just don’t want one side of the story to be it…Hard Hat on!!! LoL


The Gimlet Eye

Fine, let the Chief come out and tell her side. We are all waiting. Oops, that will only happen in a controlled environment where only “facts” are permissable: a court.


Well that won’t cut the mustard.


Myself

Well it looks like the good citizens of Paso will have to defend them selves from now on, looks like open carry would do the trick.


ON2U

Yes, the Old West law, “Every man has a gun and every man is a law unto himself.”


zaphod

now slowly back away from MY parking space.


MisterHomoErectus

I agree that the police Department is broken and needs to be fixed. However, the far reaching speculation and ridiculous solutions that people post here show how many people talk out of their behinds.


racket

From 30K feet, the “safety mode” issue starts to look like a squeeze play.


A group that wants more police staffing would implement the policy to bully the public into more funding.


Doesn’t even really matter whether the group is Solomon/management, or the union, or both.


nocalsignora

EXACTLY! and some research into comments made by Jim App when the lawsuit over the water rates was filed should be done. I am SURE he made statements to the effect that if the public didn’t “accept” the water plan that was being forced upon them, then services like police, fire, parks would suffer for it.


danika

Well, this certainly explains why no one responds to my calls about the drug deals frequently going down in my parking lot.


Cindy

I was thinking about you and your complaints about your parking lot while I was reading this ;)


danika

I appreciate that! Now, if I could just get the PRPD to do their job and actually police the streets to prevent those drug deals in my parking lot. A girl can dream.


pasoparent5

danika, you must simply realize that your parking lot is located in the wrong area of town. *sarcasm* The drug deals (or child/spouse abuse or property theft over $10K) grafitti tagging, loitering, and other criminal activities in our neighborhoods are just a part of life now in “darn near paradise.” We’d better get used to it. Ian’s “Safe Streets” program helped for a week or so but now we’re back to business as usual here.


Now, if your business was located in a 2 block radius of downtown AND it were during the hallowed Wine Festival or Amgen race, the cops would respond. Or if the drug deals happened smack dab at the entrance of the Fair in August, you may see some action by the Paso PD.


Paso absolutely needs those beloved wine-sipping tourists to keep coming & spending. The 2 fatal stabbings and drive-by’s last year put a dent in our image and we need to pretend that all’s well in Paso! To heck w/the locals’ concerns about public safety. I’m gonna place my faith in our fearless leader Jim App, our knowledgeable city council, and our competent police chief. :(