Police chief under fire for retaliating against her men

February 2, 2012

Chief Lisa Solomon

By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

(UPDATE: Officer Jon Tatro filed a lawsuit Friday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.)

A Paso Robles police officer, who says his numerous attempts to force the chief to run the department in a legal and productive manner were rebuffed, filed a claim against the city in December and plans to follow up with a lawsuit.

Officer Jon Tatro, an officer and union steward, had complained to Chief Lisa Solomon and city management 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, according to the lawsuit and interviews with several officers.

“A ticket a day will keep the sergeant away,” several officers said was a common phrase used in the department.

In addition to the quota system, officers were told the tickets they wrote had to be for hazardous moving violations, such as speeding, running a red light, or stop sign or right of way issues — offenses that could result in high ticket revenues.

In March, after city officials took no action on Tatro’s complaints, he went to the Paso Robles branch of the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court in full uniform with his gun. He informed court personnel about the illegal ticket quotas and asked to talk to a judge.

Paso Robles court personnel forwarded his request to Susan Matherly, the court executive officer.

“I called him back and did not believe he was a police office,” Matherly said. “I thought he was someone impersonating an officer.”

Matherly then called Captain Robert Burtin to inform the police department about the imposter, she said.

Shortly afterwards, department command staff allegedly retaliated against Tatro by initiating an internal affairs investigation into his attempt to talk to a judge, the claim says.

The suit also criticizes command staff for retaliating against the officer by removing him from job responsibilities that would further his career and giving the officer unwarranted reprimanding.

CalCoastNews interviewed more than a half dozen current and former officers and department employees, many of whom have asked to remain unnamed to protect them from retaliation or because of pending lawsuits. All of the officers told similar stories of alleged illegal quotas, dangerous police policies and command staff retaliation.

The officers contend Solomon has enacted new department policies that promote writing traffic tickets while serving the public in “safe mode.”

Her policies include only allowing one officer to respond to an incident in code three, speeding with sirens and lights. At the same time, if an officer responds to an incident such as a rape or an assault they are not permitted, according to policy, to engage the suspect until backup arrives, officers said.

In one instance last year, an officer responded to a call that a man had been bitten by his pit bull and was trying to break down his sister’s bedroom door so that the dog could attack her also, former officer Dave Hernandez said.

The officer permitted to use code three arrived first, heard screams from the house and stepped out of his car. The dog bolted from the house and attempted to attack the officer, who responded by shooting and killing the dog.

Department command staff questioned the officer for approaching the house before backup arrived, Hernandez said. The incident resulted in new polices being put into action prohibiting single officer responses, Hernandez said.

“So if I go to a house and see someone being attacked, I do not go in until backup arrives,” Hernandez said. “We signed up to put our lives on the line for others and now we have to wait, even if we hear shots and screaming.”

Hernandez said he asked supervisors if they were sued for failing to respond, would the department protect them, and was told yes.

In a strange twist, the department has also awarded officers for not risking injury by allowing fleeing suspects to get away.

For example, an officer recently received an accommodation for not chasing a suspect.

“I just read and approved this case,” the commendation written by Sgt. Dave Bouffard says. “It is the case where you stopped a suspicious subject riding a bike at night without a light.

“During your contact with him the subject pulled a meth pipe out of his pocket by accident. Once he realized this, he took off running. You weighed all of the factors, severity of the crime, time of night, available cover units, and quickly decided not to chase the subject.

“This was an excellent decision on your part and I want to commend you for that decision not to chase the subject. Any pursuit has inherit (sic) dangers to the officers who are involved in them. During foot chases, especially at night, there is the risk of an injury incurred while involved in a foot chase in the dark for relatively low level crimes.

On the bottom of the commendation, Solomon wrote in pen, “Good judgment and decision making in a rapidly evolving situation, thanks.”

City council members and the mayor did not respond or refused to answer questions about the claim.

City Attorney Iris Lang said that Paso Robles staff does not inform city council members of claims against the city. City officials in San Luis Obispo County’s other six cities said they inform the city council of major credible lawsuits that could be substantial.

Retaliation lawsuit:

TatroClaimC


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Slowerfaster

You know, I generally like Bob Cuddy. Most of the time, I find myself nodding in agreement with what he writes.


Not this time.


I find his churlish remarks so PETTY and beneath the dignity of a fellow ‘journalist’.

Too bad that this is confirmation of “Dead-Tree” journalism and the hallmark of a lazy ‘coaster’ that stopped trying to challenge authority and sold out to the system.


Swamp gas ?

Smell your own cadaver first, Bob !


highdude

Wholly S%$t Batman! I just read the entire gov’t claim attached to this page. I know claims can only say so much and are quite vague but if only half is true or let’s say 25%, the city will write this cop a check. I am not one for court as you can imagine since I am one with the bong, but I would sober up just enough to slink in that courtroom to watch this fiasco.


Once this case goes to court, this guy’s attorney will bring the specifics to light! Now if any of these things are corroborated the Chief (if she is still employed) will have to be terminated.


I need a twinkie after that one!


manyworries

Well, I tried to get ahold of Senior Editor Bob Cuddy on the phone today, unbelievably he wouldn’t take my call?! What if I did have some explosive news? He’s not interested. Just wondering how much he got paid for that junk editorial. At least I’ll never waste a dime on the Tribune again. He’s certainly NO reporter. Thank you CCN for being true journalists !! Congratulations on your award :))


manmouse

With regard to the PR City Council, I would question some of Ed Steinbeck’s decisions when it involves real estate, such has building more subdivisions. There have been several instances in which he probably should have recused himself, according to the Council Policies and Procedures manual. Ed votes for every real estate project proposed even though many citizens are concerned about the possibility of urban blight. The attitude of “if you build it, they will come” has to be carefully examined. Most of these projects need to be voted on by the public and the public should be made aware of the proposed projects, by a postcard in the mail to the residents within 500 feet of the proposed project. This would inform the residents of plans to drastically change the infrastructure before it is approved by the City Manager, the Mayor and the rest of the City Council. Reviewing the City website to learn of proposed projects and then attending the City Council meeting to voice an opposing opinion does not result in a conversation about the project as it has ususally already been decided and approved before the meeting.

The public is invited to attend a “budget workshop” on Saturday, February 11, 2012, at 9 a.m. in the City Council chambers at 1000 Spring Street.


highdude

Maybe Chief Solomon and Capt. Burton could do a little patrol to help out the troops, and at the same time learn what it’s like to be a “Real Police Officer.”


You have to feel (no pun intended) for these cops right now. That place must be hell to work in. As for the Sgt. that gave an officer a commendation for letting a suspect run away; WTF are you thinking??? Maybe this guy had a gun, drugs, or my stolen credit card in his back pocket that was taken from my truck.


Bad guys run for several reasons; they are “stupid”, they are criminals and have done something against the law, and they know the police in Paso Robles won’t chase them!


I know some cops and they will usually chase a bad guy. This is really unacceptable for the citizens of Paso Robles, as it really puts them in danger. Also I just watched Solomon on TV state that the PD can absolutely keep the community safe. How does that happen???? A police department cannot even maintain an even balance in crime statistics by only responding to crimes in progress of after the fact crimes.


The biggest part of fighting crime, is crime prevention. On the street it is done by police officers doing “self initiated” police work. To explain this to Solomon and Burton this means “actively” looking for the bad guy, stopping the bad, chasing the bad guy, catching the bad guy, and taking the bad guy to jail.


That department is an embarrassment to local agencies throughout the county.


Next time a Paso Robles cop pulls you over on a cheasey traffic stop because he or she is two shy of their quota just stop your car and get out and run away. We know they won’t chase you.


Gimme my bong back!


MaryMalone

HIGHDUDE SAYETH: “Bad guys run for several reasons; they are “stupid”, they are criminals and have done something against the law, and they know the police in Paso Robles won’t chase them!


———–


Great summation.


I would expect, over the years Solomon and her inept leadership has been in place–including this “safe mode” debacle of a policy–there has been a steady migration of drug dealers, gangstas, and other criminals into PR.


Smart move on their part. It’s clear the City of Paso Robles, its PD, general manager and city council have rolled out the welcome mat.


What I don’t get is why they are trying to drive away the rest of the community.


cheseburger

Not enough water!


moderator

Please use the name as provided not what you wish it to be, a few comments have been regretfully deleted. ????


slowtime

Nonetheless, I still think it is funny! :)


slowtime

Again, Why is she still at work? The police Chief is/or should be being investigated for CRIMINAL behavior. Some of her reported behavior here could be felonios in nature, ie; assault under color of authority, Perjury, false reports, sexual battery, etc.

Here is some info on ticket quotas.

CALIFORNIA CODES

VEHICLE CODE

SECTION 41600-41603


41600. For purposes of this chapter, “arrest quota” means any

requirement regarding the number of arrests made, or the number of

citations issued, by a peace officer, or parking enforcement

employee, or the proportion of those arrests made and citations

issued by a peace officer or parking enforcement employee, relative

to the arrests made and citations issued by another peace officer or

parking enforcement employee, or group of officers or employees.


41601. For purposes of this chapter, “citation” means a notice to

appear, notice of violation, or notice of parking violation.


41601.5. For purposes of this chapter, “agency” includes the

Regents of the University of California.


41602. No state or local agency employing peace officers or parking

enforcement employees engaged in the enforcement of this code or any

local ordinance adopted pursuant to this code, may establish any

policy requiring any peace officer or parking enforcement employees

to meet an arrest quota.


41603. No state or local agency employing peace officers or parking

enforcement employees engaged in the enforcement of this code shall

use the number of arrests or citations issued by a peace officer or

parking enforcement employees as the sole criterion for promotion,

demotion, dismissal, or the earning of any benefit provided by the

agency. Those arrests or citations, and their ultimate dispositions,

may only be considered in evaluating the overall performance of a

peace officer or parking enforcement employees. An evaluation may

include, but shall not be limited to, criteria such as attendance,

punctuality, work safety, complaints by citizens, commendations,

demeanor, formal training, and professional judgment.


MaryMalone

This is a great list. Everybody should include it in their complaints to the State Auditor and AG.


itsadamshame

I’ve see LEO’s put on admin leave for less while the the matter is investigated…. admin leave is not the punishment nor an admission of guilt , its to allow time for an unobstructed investigation whether its by the department or an outside agency…. POLICY…so how many officers have been on admin leave at the department and for what… just a thought… the truth is at the “Root” of this… sorry I’m giggling the whole radish comment… stand by to stand by lol


The Gimlet Eye

One suspects that the city council is panicking, doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t want to get sued, doesn’t want to lose the next election and have their budding political careers ruined. Trouble is that the longer they wait, the worse it is going to get.


MaryMalone

Maybe Lisa Solomon will let them help out with her photo-booth-for-events-rental business.


I bet there’s a lot that goes on in that booth that isn’t exactly PG rated.


CA Native

Anybody who doesn’t know that traffic citations are both revenue and quota driven is really naive.


MaryMalone

Anyone who doesn’t know it is illegal to have a quota system is uninformed.


Typoqueen

Anyone that doesn’t understand that it happens all the time with many many departments is uniformed.


MaryMalone

Again, you must sink to the Cuddy dishonest slither-and-ooze to make a point.


I did not say I was not aware it happens all the time. Obviously, I do, since I have, more than once, used the City of Bell PD’s quota system in comparison to Solomon’s quota system.


The practice is illegal. Solomon is in charge of the PRPD. Therefore, Solomon is committing a crime. Not only that, if one of the department’s officers refuses to be her accomplice in the quota system, she retaliates by harassment and retaliation, culminating in wrongful termination.


Typoqueen

Well if you say it then it must be true. BTW how do you know this?


MaryMalone

You are the one saying “it must be true.” It is for you to supply your “facts.”


Get up off the couch and do your own work for a change.


Typoqueen

Hold the phone, try and keep up. Why would I have to prove (your quote) “if one of the department’s officers refuses to be her accomplice in the quota system, she retaliates by harassment and retaliation, culminating in wrongful termination.”


You’re the one making the charges. See that’s what you people (sorry danika, I’m not talking about you) do, you make these wild accusations and then you want everyone else to back them up or support those wild accusations. It is you Mary that needs to supply facts. But heck why do that, you don’t need facts, she’s already guilty.


itsadamshame

The DMV gets the majority of the revenue, I know the last time I saw the break down the City gets like 8 percent or some ridicules about… I’m pretty sure somewhere you can find the break down on the web..Kinda like saying all cops like doughnuts…


Typoqueen

I swear, I’m not Bob Cuddy but it sure seem like he’s been reading my posts.


http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2012/02/04/1935723/trashing-of-paso-chief-shows-bad.html


Thank goodness for reasonable minds.


Cindy

“Thank goodness for reasonable minds.”


Yours and Bob Cuddy’s ?? Have you seen the response Bob is getting? It’s worse than the response you get. If you haven’t figured out that you need to use a bit more deductive reasoning, then you probably don’t have any, seriously….some of your posts (the ones I bother to read) are ludicrous on this subject.


Typoqueen

Cindy, I’m glad that I have the ability to not believe every piece of gossip that comes my way. Unlike you, I like facts. Unlike you, public opinion doesn’t sway my thought process as I know that like you for the most part people are like sheep. Unlike you, if Karen said to jump, you’re the one that would say ‘how high’.


If you don’t bother reading my posts then how can you know if what I’m saying is ludicrous? Then again it wouldn’t be the first time that you based your opinon on not knowing all the facts. You know you read all of my posts, you can’t help yourself.


itsadamshame

Take it easy… have a glass wine, enjoy the game, no one on this forum has the power to change the facts what ever they may be or who they affect.. attacking each others posts will not change that… Let the chips fall where they may.. (zips up flame suit…)


MaryMalone

Sorry, I think the fact that SLO County’s poor excuse for mainstream media does the citizens great harm, and those who harm citizens great benefit, by trying to intimidate into meekness the citizens who do make the effort to stand up to what they believe to be government wrong when they experience.


In fact, I think it borders on un-American. We are taught since birth (some of us) that it is our duty as citizens of America to ensure our government does what it is supposed to do and, if not, to use the tools we have to see the wrongs righted.


I won’t sit in silence while the lazy media couch hags like Cruddy seek to discredit the hard work of the one publication that does investigative journalism and that is ready to take the risks of publishing information that the likes of John Wallace and the City of Paso Robles would very much like to keep quiet


I certainly won’t sit in silence while the inept and simpering handmaidens–like Cruddy– of the government bodies and powerful corporations who seek to harm the places where we live, attempt to cast the legitimate complaints of the officers who have suffered from Solomon’s abortion of “leadership” and PR City government’s co-conspiring to keep it covered up.


Of course, you miileage may vary…


itsadamshame

Mary… sorry that was not directed at you… I hope you didn’t think so.. :( I felt bad that Cindy was on the receiving end this time instead of me lol… I should have been more straight to the point..


manyworries

Thank you Mary Malone for your insightful post above!!


“Sorry, I think the fact that SLO County’s poor excuse for mainstream media does the citizens great harm, and those who harm citizens great benefit, by trying to intimidate into meekness the citizens who do make the effort to stand up to what they believe to be government wrong when they experience”


MaryMalone

You are behind dishonest, which is your MO.


Cindy indicated she didn’t read most of your posts, not all of your posts.


Typoqueen

Oh, come on, she reads them all, she can’t help herself. Man you two get so upset when someone disagrees with you. You guys didn’t take time out for the Superbowl, do you ever take time out from judging others? You must have been the only people on the central coast that didn’t watch the Superbowl, I kinda feel sorry for you.


MaryMalone

Another demonstration on the “facts” upon which you base your opinions.


You have zero way to know what another poster reads and does not. To accuse them of something you cannot possibly know is–again–dishonest.


Slowerfaster

I always wonder about the personal hygiene habits of those that seemingly post non-stop 24/7 !


EWWWWW !


Disgusted

“Reasonable minds?” Cuddy appears to be sour grapes and that’s about it. Did he write this piece in a fit of anger?

What you and he continue to miss is that the comments here are opinions. This is not a court of law. No innocence or guilt will be decided. But, citizens with concerns want the truth from their city and don’t want these allegations swept under the rug, as was the loaded, unregistered gun caper. I think a general mistrust of govt., from the feds to the local cities prompt suspicions such as seen here.


MaryMalone

If his source for his opinions is reading your posts, that explains a lot, including why he himself presents no real argument to support his accusations.


Typoqueen

I don’t believe that I’m his source it’s just that I’m not the only one that thinks with a level head that has refused to join the lynch mob. I was starting think that I was the only one but after speaking with a few people I hadn’t realized what a reputation the posters here have for doing this. Popular opinion regarding the pack mindset is much more widespread than I had originally thought. It’s actually kinda embarrassing.


HotMess

I am blown away by the recent news swirling in Paso Robles. . Although, I have to say that as a Greenfield resident, I thought I’ve seen it all and heard it all. What is it with small town Government and Police Department issues? There seems to be a “brush it under the rug” mentality. What ever happened to Integrity, Accountability, Honor, Respect, Honesty, and Transparency? Something is wrong here. I’m glad to see that concerned citizens will be organizing and showing up at the upcoming Council meeting to voice your concerns and are supporting the officers who are trying to maintain their ethics and duties, yet while under fire by some of their own. Paso Robles residents, if it is true that some of your elected officials knew about these allegations and failed to act, then perhaps it’s time to consider a Recall effort. Complacency by elected officials and a perhaps negligent City Manager is a recipe for disater! Just research the City of Greenfield. We have 3 Recalls scheduled to hit the June ballot (2 Councilmembers and our incompetent Mayor), a referendum BLOCKING…yes BLOCKING public safety from gaining resources through a police department merge with the City of Soledad that could save us money and give our officers the resources they need, and lastly our police chief has been on paid administrative leave since Sept. or Oct. Do your due diligence and if necessary CLEAN HOUSE! Remember, the paso Robles City Council works for YOU!


pasoparent5

thank you HotMess. Even if there’s not a recall (which I would support!), three of the five city council members (Picanco, Gilman and Strong) are up for re-election this year. Unlike in years past, I won’t vote for ANY of the incumbents this time. I hope your situation in Greenfield works out for the best.


MaryMalone

Sweet–PR residents could vote in a responsible majority.