Paso Robles has a new police chief.
The change in leadership comes as the department deals with a criminal investigation of one of its sergeants.
Commander Ty Lewis added new brass to his collar and assumed the role as chief ahead of his official promotion ceremony on July 15.
Lewis moves into the new job after holding almost every position in the department over the past 16 years.
“I was an officer, became a detective, I was a sergeant and then lieutenant,” Lewis said.
He’s seen Paso Robles grow, change and grapple with tough issues during his tenure.
Recent incidents of violence at local schools have prompted Lewis to push for change.
“We’ve been working with the school district and the city council,” he told KSBY. “We’re in budget talks right now to hopefully be able to establish a school resource officer; bring that back the department and back to the schools and community.”
Lewis hopes to have a school resource officer patrolling local schools by the time kids return to class in the fall.
He says violent crime in the city is dropping but theft is going up.
“A lot of our property crimes are often linked to drug use,” Lewis said.
His officers mostly see methamphetamine and marijuana.
“We have seen resurgence in heroin.”
Lewis says Proposition 47’s reduction of drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors makes the drug problem difficult to stop.
Homelessness, human trafficking and gang activity are also top issues for the Paso Robles police force.
Lewis says he wants locals to see beyond the badge.
“For me, one of the longer term goals, but it’s going to start immediately, is really improving our community engagement,” he said. “I think that the community really needs to see – humanize police officers and understand what we do on daily basis and how we fit with the community.”
Expect to see Paso PD popping up on your Facebook and Instagram feeds soon. Lewis says he wants to use social media more to connect with the public.
“I’m ready for this position and I look forward to hopefully taking the police department to the next level.”
Lewis is taking over for Chief Robert Burton who retired after 22 years with the department.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office says it continues to actively investigate criminal allegations made against Paso Robles police sergeant Christopher McGuire, however there are no other updates on the case.