Paso Robles police Chief Lisa Solomon relieved of command

City will pay top police official $250,000 to step down from the position she has held since 2007

sdaniel@thetribunenews.comMarch 20, 2012 

Paso Robles Police Chief Lisa Solomon, who agreed to resign under an agreement between her and the city approved by the Paso Robles City Council Tuesday night.

THE TRIBUNE — file photo

UPDATE 10:35 a.m. Wednesday: Most of the money to be paid to Paso Robles Police Chief Lisa Solomon under a separation and release agreement would be paid as a result of damage to her reputation, the terms show.

The agreement, announced Tuesday night by City Manager Jim App, allocates a total of $250,000 as “the settlement amount.” Of that, $19,500 is for the money Solomon would have made in wages. That amount also includes compensation for all accrued vacation, holiday and administrative leave.

The bulk of the money, $230,500, is for damage to her reputation “through no fault of either party.”

In a letter of resignation issued to City Manager Jim App Tuesday, Solomon said “My record stands on its own, and I am confident my many contributions to the safety and quality of life in Paso Robles will be the prevailing memory of my years of service.”

Also as part of the agreement, Solomon’s city-paid health benefits will cut off on April 30.

Original story: Paso Robles police Chief Lisa Solomon, facing a complaint accusing her of sexually harassing a former officer and a lawsuit over alleged traffic-ticket quotas, was relieved of her command by the City Council on Tuesday night.

Following a closed session of the council, City Manager Jim App announced that the city and Solomon had reached an agreement that will pay her $250,000 to leave her job.

Solomon, who has been chief since 2007, is scheduled to leave her post April 2.

Capt. Robert Burton will lead the Paso Robles Police Department until an interim chief is appointed, App said. That process, he added, is expected to take a month.

Under the agreement, Solomon and the city waive the right to sue each other.

App would not confirm or deny that the city received a report by lawyer Debra Estrin of San Francisco, who was hired in the fall by the city’s attorney to investigate recent controversies involving Solomon.

“The distractions became so great it was impossible for her to effectively lead this department,” App said.

Solomon did not attend Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, and she has been on paid leave since March 12.

No one discussed Solomon during the meeting’s regular public comment period, even amid widespread speculation that she was the subject of the unspecified employee disciplinary action on the council’s late agenda change.

After the council meeting, App said Solomon “offered to leave based on distractions to her job and effects on her health.”

Solomon began her career in Paso Robles in 1988 as a 20-year-old and the department’s first female officer.

She moved through the ranks and was promoted to the chief’s spot in 2007 after having been recommended by former Chief Dennis Cassidy.

The City Council unanimously backed App’s decision to promote her, and the Paso Robles Police Officers Association at the time also affirmed the move.

“I’m very disappointed,” App said Tuesday night. “We worked together for over 22 years.”

“A person who has been here for more than 24 years leaves a mark,” he later added.

In recent years, budget cuts have left the department with a third fewer officers than when Solomon took over.

Her tenure has been marked by other high-profile problems:

• In 2008, her loaded gun was stolen from her unlocked car.

• In September, a rise in gang-related crime prompted the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office and other area law enforcement agencies to step in to help the department — an unusual move.

• And in February, a police officer filed a lawsuit against the city alleging that Solomon and other department managers required officers to meet illegal ticket quotas. The chief also faced a formal complaint by a former officer who alleges she sexually harassed him.

App said he expects it to take six months to find a permanent chief.

“The prospective chief will want to understand the mindset of the officers they’ll be working with,” App said of whoever replaces Solomon as the department’s permanent leader.

Letter from Lisa Solomon

Separation agreement between Lisa Solomon and the City of Paso Robles

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