Paso Robles forms gang and drug enforcement team

April 8, 2013

paso police4The 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.”


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How wide spread is the gang and drug problem in Paso? Drive to Jack in the Box on upper Spring St. Look for the telephone pole near the dumpster, at the South East corner of the place. For weeks there has been a notice taped to the pole, openly advertising Pot for sale, just up the road. The City has lost when the druggies aren’t even afraid to advertise. Not even one cop has cared to stop and tear it down? There are more of these around, above 24th St. as well.

“You’re gonna need a bigger task force”.

It’s not solely a gang problem. I see a ridiculous number of white 17 to thirty-something-year-old meth-heads trolling the better neighborhoods. They’re locals, some of whom PRPD know by name. But law enforcement resources has been spread too thin the past decade to do any real investigating.

Hopefully, the City will continue to take more pointed action toward eradicating this problem with more staffing and resulting arrests. Our way of life would be most definitely improved and so would tourism.

But it isn’t just about staffing and a bigger operating budget. Good leadership is everything.

If the economy is so “fragile,” where did the money come to pay Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to go away quietly?

Reflecting back on the last few years, Paso seems to be suffering from a SELECTIVE fragile economy orchestrated by the city’s political bosses.

We can sit here and continue to point fingers, but in the end, it boils down to poor money management and forsight and whom ever heads that up period. If these bozos worked in the private sector, they would be fired, end of story.

My guess is the two Bozos that gave two thumbs down work for the State or City with bloated salaries and pensions. Really? And if it doesn’t boil down to poor money management and foresight by those in charge of public safety, then where does the buck stop? Is anyone accountable for the lack of police or funds to pay for responding officers to keep Paso Robles and North County’s citizenry safe?

Since city is paying for tourism by giving money to the wine country alliance. Maybe the wine industry should cover the cost of the gang task force.

I feel your angst, but you are overlooking the fact that it is the tourist dollar that fills the city coffers. Sales tax, bed tax, general economic activity.

So, yeah, on the one hand, the City is frittering away resources by making nice for the tourists. But in a very real sense, tourism is the engine that’s driving Paso these days.