Paso Robles forms gang and drug enforcement team
April 8, 2013
The Paso Robles Police Department has created a gang and drug enforcement team to help reduce gang related crimes. [Tribune]
Starting this week, two veteran police officers will focus solely on attempting to take gang members and drug dealers off the streets.
“Their job is primarily proactive — gathering intelligence, but also out there working visible (operations) as well,” said Lt. Ty Lewis.
Previously, the police department received assistance from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Gang and Narcotics Task Force in dealing with its own gang and drug problems. The new gang and drug enforcement team will operate separately from the sheriff’s task force.
Under former Police Chief Lisa Solomon-Chitty, the department staff dropped from 46 approved officers to 26 sworn officers. At times, the former chief kept as few as two patrol officers on duty.
Since Solomon-Chitty’s departure the total number of officers has increased to 29, and newer officers have gained experience, allowing the department to assign the two veterans to the gang and drug team.
The department has not announced plans to expand the team and says it will reassess its effectiveness this summer.
Paso Robles Mayor Duane Picanco said he is aware that the city has a gang and drug problem, but is not sure whether there is enough money to hire additional officers.
“We’re being very cautious for reinstating positions,” Picanco said. “Our economy is still fragile.”