Paso Robles criminalizing homelessness

October 29, 2012


My name is Jon Tatro and I have been a police officer with the city of Paso Robles for more than 25 years. I am the officer who reported PRPD for illegal ticket quotas. I currently have a lawsuit against the city for whistleblower retaliation. This article is not about me; it is about the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I only represent myself with this article and in no way represent the city, police department, or any other officer or employee of the city.

I have enclosed an excerpt from my most recent annual evaluation written by Sgt. Tod Rehner and approved by city hall and acting Chief Robert Burton. Sgt. Rehner suggested our shift have a “shift project” which was dealing with transients. This is what Sgt. Rehner wrote:

“Another example of Officer Tatro’s attitude came about during the shift’s ‘shift project’ discussion. I brought up the recent problems that transient subjects were presenting to businesses in terms of loitering, trespassing, and theft, and in turn the impact on law enforcement through higher call volumes.

“Officer Tatro was adamantly opposed to contacting transient subjects because he believed that we were just picking on people because they were ‘dirty and smelled.’ He further said that they really did not do anything and we rarely received legitimate calls in regard to transient problems.”

“Dispatcher (name withheld) was in briefing and quickly informed Officer Tatro that dispatch received numerous calls per day regarding complaints surrounding transients. I pointed out to Officer Tatro that calls such as public intoxication, sleeping within city limits, assaults, and thefts among other issues, were directly related to transient populations.

“Officer Tatro did not agree and refused to participate in the project. The shift ultimately chose a different project. I was surprised that Officer Tatro’s opinion was so far removed from what was actually occurring with this group of people.”

It should be noted it is not against the law to be a transient and the Supreme Court has ruled “loitering” is not a crime unless it is associated with other criminal action. To target “transients” is to profile people based on their socio-economic status.

I have found in my long career that criminals come in every color, race and socio-economic class. We call these people “criminals.” The reason lady justice is blind folded is because the Constitution was intended to give equal treatment under the law regardless of how you are dressed or if you carry your home in a backpack.

The Jim Crow laws made it illegal for black people to “loiter” in front of businesses because it made their white customers “feel uncomfortable.” The “transients” have a First Amendment right to wave their cardboard signs in a public place with very few exceptions, whether we like it or not.

I am not a bleeding heart homeless advocate; as a matter of fact I personally hate to see able-bodied people beg for money when they could be productive citizens. I am a U.S. Constitution advocate.

My personal opinion cannot dictate how I pursue criminals. If people are publicly intoxicated, arrest them; if they trespass, arrest them; if they commit any crime, call them a criminal and arrest them. If you get sleepy, take a five-hour energy because according to Sgt. Rehner, “Sleeping within the city limits” is a crime.

Other than criminal street gangs, Hells Angels, drug cartels etc., the police should never look at people as a “group.” There are many transients who do not commit crimes, and bring a lot of money to our community. We call them tourists. I’m glad Jesus isn’t around Paso Robles because he would certainly be targeted as a “transient group,” being born in a stable and all.

The city and police department administration are trying to portray me as a “lazy malcontent” for a variety of reasons and have made it clear my career with PRPD is done and I have no future. The facts are the facts, the truth is the truth and that is all I can live by. Hate me , love me, I don’t care, I can look at myself in the mirror every day and not be ashamed. I am far from perfect, but I have never dishonored my profession or the Constitution of the United States.

Some PRPD administrators and most officers strive to serve the citizens of Paso Robles as best they can under the circumstances. It has been my honor to serve the amazing citizens of Paso Robles for 25-plus years.


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Thanks for coming forward (again), Mr. Tatro. And–on a side note–PLEASE do not settle your pending lawsuit out of court. The residents of Paso deserve to KNOW what really went on during the ex-singing chief’s tenure. If you and your lawyer take the matter all the way to trial, the details will be made public and locals may finally press the council to have Jim App (et al) removed. Stay strong and watch your back.

Nice appeal, but before you get any resonse you need to divulge if you’d settle out of court AND keep the money not donate it. Then we’d know if you’re for real, fair enough?

Otherwise, my man, cops and other are always lookin’ for a nice little watertight case that puts the ck in the mailbox and eliminates the work part.

opps, not a Pasoparent response, rather a question to Tatro , gotta find my glasses.

I whole heartedly applaud Officer Tatro’s firm convictions and upholding the constitution that so many have died for.

On the other hand it looks like his chances of getting hired on at the San Luis Obispo police department are grim at best.

True, Harry. But Tatro wouldn’t want to work in SLO anyway because Chris Chitty–husband of Mrs. Chittygate ♪ ♫ herself–is on the SLO PD. Now wouldn’t THAT be a bit awkward?! :)

I do support law enforcement but there are times that organized anti-crime gets a little cloudy. That said, it is very important that people be civil and voice their issues. Retalitory behavior undermines our constitution, civil behavior thus law enforcement. A say ZERO TOLERANCE to retalitory behavior.

Jon Tatro,

“I’m glad Jesus isn’t around Paso Robles because he would certainly be targeted as a “transient group,” being born in a stable and all.”

As the true Christian is aware, Jesus was our number one homeless person, and He was the Son of God for Christ’s sake! (Matthew 8:20) Or, Jesus was God incarnate as some Christians believe (1Timothy 3:16). One can choose Jesus’ modus operandi for themselves, even though both entities contradict each other. That’s a different discussion.

Jon Tatro, you’re being anachronistic in thinking that Jesus would be wearing the attire and looking like He did 2000 years ago. If Jesus was around Paso Robles now, I can see Him wearing clothes of this time period that would represent the casual California lifestyle.

Your problem is the fact that you’re taking a TRUE Christian stance upon this situation with the homeless. The pseudo-christian and non-christian element that you’re confronting with your godly views, are not use to this, as many of the CCN pseudo-christian alumni are within this forum.

Along with the U.S. Constitution, give these cultural Christian hypocrites that you’re dealing with, the following biblical passages so that they can either become true Christians, or forever be known as cultural Christians, in name only. If they don’t follow Jesus’ direct words and commands listed below regarding the homeless and poor, then they should leave the faith post haste because they’re an embarrassment to the word of the God that they allegedly worship.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:16-17)

Jesus said; “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” Galatians 2:10)

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:11)

Jon, the passage that is most apropos for you, is when Jesus stated, to wit: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless.” ( Proverbs 31:8)

Jon Tatro, true Christians commend you in your godly efforts, praise!

For those pseudo-christians that can only press the “dislike” button to my godly knowledge on this particular topic, and run away instead of engaging, the following and very apropos verse is for you.

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” ( James 1:26) Definition; if you don’t follow the passages above relating to the homeless and poor, your Christianity is worthless! 2+2=4.

Well Officer Tatro, it appears you have a target on your back. They wont let up until they fire you or stress you out on a medical. PRPD promotes incompetence and once in admin, its all about their job security. Good cops like you never seem to make it. The lazy ass kissers do who trample on others rights do. Good luck to you sir.

I applaud you, officer Tatro. This could not be an easy position to be in, at odds with your superiors. But hold the line. Your duty is to the people and I am so glad that you see the homeless as people.

What other “laws’ or assignments did he decide to “agree” with and follow or not follow?

And no I am not in law enforcement as some suggested. But clearly if he felt he was instructed to break a law in a campaign to “harass” the homeless all he had to do is ignore the request and document all the facts.

He has and did.

The first two comments posted here are telling. Too many Americans today think that the Constitution is something that protects only their rights and — in the case of the first two posters — makes life a little more convenient, even at the diminution of others’ guaranteed rights. As to Robert1 — yours is the kind of attitude that today encourages out-of-control, mindless-of-rights law enforcement that is so prevalent in these United States. Officer Tatro is on solid ground, morally and professionally. Robert1 and Cooperdog — I sure hope you two aren’t cops.

Incidentally, disobeying unlawful orders is not only appropriate, but legally acceptable.

I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with Officer Tatro’s views on the transients. I did notice that he didn’t refute the comment made by his supervisor, “Officer Tatro did not agree and refused to participate in the project….” This is insubordination, and he should be fired immediately. “Comply now, grieve later”, that’s the way he should have handled in a union setting. I’m sensing Officer Tatro’s is an entrenched employee that does not readily accept change.

Cooperdog, by your logic in the “fired immediately” statement, Paso Robles would have been rid of Former Police Chief Lisa Solomon years before she cost the taxpayer in excess of $250,000. Where were you when she left her loaded, unregisterd firearm in her unlocked vehicle only to have it returned to her by the Atascadero Police Dept?? And you expect Mr. Tatro to be FIRED for “insubordination”???

You got the wrong government job, you should have been a social worker, it appears law enforcement was not your calling.

So this officer’s concerns about the PR Police department walking all over the Constitution qualifies him as a social worker? How do you get there?

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