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Paso Robles Police Department hosts community forum on cyber threats

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Posted at 10:35 PM, Apr 03, 2023

The Paso Robles Police Department wants parents to be informed about online crimes and other issues affecting children and teens.

We all know that online crime can have real-life consequences, and that was the topic of Monday night’s discussion between community members and police.

Some parents in Paso Robles say they are increasingly concerned about online gang activity as well as drug trafficking and other cybercrimes.

“I think it’s a tremendous threat. Everyone has a phone now,” said Susie Apkarian, who lives in Paso Robles and has kids and grandkids who live out of town. “I’m not concerned so much for my kids, but other people’s children as well.”

Police officers hosted meetings in English and Spanish to educate parents about online threats on Monday evening.

“Cybercrimes and their vulnerabilities are constantly changing and evolving. we go to regular training just to stay up to date and hopefully stay ahead of it,” said School Resource Officer Walter Canizalez.

The presentation included names of street gangs as well as tattoos and other signs for parents to look out for.

“There’s been a lot of concern around the possibility of gangs in Paso and I felt like it was important to come and get real information from our public safety experts,” said schoolboard member Jim Cogan. “I have two students in the district. My older son is going to be a senior at the high school and he has not experienced any kind of pressure or influence from gangs, he hasn’t seen it.”

Police say education and parent involvement is key to stopping youth from falling victim to cybercrime.

“Something that we’re seeing with that is also that parent involvement is lacking in order to monitor some of those things. That creates a whole other series of issues that can snowball,” said Officer Canizalez, who hopes that parents come away armed with extra knowledge to keep their kids safe.

“That’s part of why we’re putting on this workshop is just to give parents a few more tools.

If they didn’t know before—at least it piques some of that interest and it allows the community to ask us more questions and that way, we can render whatever resources we have available towards that issue.”

The goal of Tuesday night’s forum was to have an open dialogue with parents in a safe location.