San Luis Obispo’s police chief is speaking out after she says her personal firearm was taken when she left it in a public restroom.
In a YouTube video posted Wednesday evening and sent out to members of the media and city officials by Chief Deanna Cantrell, she says she was eating lunch at a San Luis Obispo restaurant earlier in the day, which City Manager Derek Johnson has identified as El Pollo Loco on Los Osos Valley Road, when she went into the restroom and left her personal firearm inside.
She said the gun was in a holster but she removed it because it did not stay clipped to her pants.
Cantrell says she noticed what she describes as her “mistake” within minutes, but that when she went back, the gun was gone. It has not been recovered.
“I talk about transparency and having a relationship that’s built on trust with our community, so I also want to make sure I practice what I believe,” Cantrell said in the video, adding, “Therefore, I think you should hear this from me.”
Surveillance video obtained by police reportedly shows three people, including a 10-year-old boy, going into and out of the restroom at separate times before Cantrell noticed her firearm was missing.
Cantrell says the boy and another man both said they had not seen the gun but the first man who entered after Cantrell reportedly left the restaurant within two minutes and never ordered food.
Police released pictures of the man on Facebook in an effort to identify him.
“I want to assure our community that protecting the public’s safety is our number one priority,” Johnson said. “I have personally spoken with Chief Cantrell, who apologized for this mistake and has voluntarily agreed to attend training on firearms safety practices. She has also vowed to use this incident as a training opportunity for all officers in the department. Having carried a firearm safely for 25 years, she is committed to serving as an example of the level of vigilance that must be maintained at all times, regardless of experience or rank.”
Cantrell says after discovering her gun was missing, she immediately notified law enforcement, including her supervisor, and the firearm was entered into a national database.
“My actions were irresponsible and dangerous, and I am so grateful that after our preliminary investigation, a child didn’t find it,” Cantrell said in the video. “I was complacent and that is something you can never be with a firearm. I expect more from myself as a person and especially as a police officer that has carried a firearm for 25 years.”
She goes on to say, “I expect to be held accountable and I want to publicly apologize for my carelessness and I hope that in some way, this serves as a lesson for others.”
Anyone with information that may help police with this incident is asked to contact police at (805) 781-7312.