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Outpouring of support, reaction to discipline for SLO police chief after gun incident

Posted: 5:31 PM, Jul 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-17 20:31:02-04

San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell is facing a pay reduction equal to two days pay but will keep her job as the city’s top cop after leaving her gun unattended in a public restroom last week, according to City Manager Derek Johnson.

The discipline announced Wednesday afternoon comes after an outpouring of support at the San Luis Obispo City Council meeting last night.

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SLO police chief’s firearm taken after she admits to leaving it in restaurant restroom

Speaker after speaker took to the podium Tuesday night during unscheduled public comments to show their support for the SLO PD Chief.

“As a black woman living in San Luis Obispo, I take comfort in knowing that I don’t have a police chief that I worry about covering up the truth. I live here with a police chief that I know that has integrity, who has a solid moral compass and is actively engaged in building and healing this community,” said Dr. Leola Dublin Macmillan, RACE Matters SLO.

Dublin Macmillan said she doesn’t expect law enforcement to be perfect, but she values honesty.

“Our community would be worse off if we don’t have her,” said Erin Foote, San Luis Obispo resident.

Nearly every resident who spoke during the public comment praised the chief. No one spoke out during public comment against the Chief during the meeting.

However, reaction on KSBY News social media pages was swift after the announcement, with an overwhelming number of posters calling for the police chief to be fired for this incident, condemning the discipline as ‘woefully inadequate.’

Others commenting on the discipline stating “it was a slap on the wrist.”

One person wrote Wednesday, “A lot of us predicted she wouldn’t be punished … punishment is only for the peons and ‘sending a message’, but when you’re at the top you are almost invincible.”

Another added, “That is NOT a suitable consequence. I am very disappointed and upset with this decision.”

Another Facebook user wrote, “I am glad there was a consequence for this. I know we all make mistakes but this one could have cost someone their life. Hopefully lesson learned.”

“She made a mistake but immediately took it public responsibility. Deanna is much more than a police officer. She is a parent, poet, role model, volunteer and an agent for change in our community,” said April Lewallen, Leadership SLO Classmate, at the meeting Tuesday night.

Some speakers have worked with the Chief and know her personally, others were moved by her public accountability after leaving her gun in a public restroom at lunch where it was taken by a man at the restaurant and ultimately recovered without incident 24-hours late r.

50-year resident Betsy Nash said she doesn’t know the Chief on a personal level. However she added, “I learned all I need to know about her when I read her apology for losing her gun. She told us from her soul that she was horrified, and she expected that we would be horrified as well,” said Nash.

“She didn’t gloss over the implications of a gun in the wrong hands, she told us why it is such a frightening thing. That made her human which is so important,” Nash added.

The show of support on full display before the discipline was announced by the city on Wednesday.

“She made an error, made a severe error, who among us has not? I think it would be a huge mistake for all of us (if she were terminated),” said Douglas Heumann, Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon praised the work of the chief and angrily called out social media users who personally attacked the chief online after the incident.

“She did not intentionally harm anyone, which is more than I can say for those keyboard cowards, that are taking this as an opportunity to be as hateful and bigoted as possible. That is unacceptable. Adding their voice about how this situation was handled is one thing, and we welcome that and you have an absolute right and a responsibility to do that but taking this as an opportunity to amplify misogyny and homophobia is something else altogether,” said Harmon

“These cowardly comments say everything, everything about the commenters, and I am talking to you,“ stated Harmon as she looked directly into the camera recording the meeting.

City Manager Derek Johnson stated after public comment was over that this incident was a ‘trying time for all in this community’ but that the investigation was able to be conducted swiftly due to the Chief’s transparency.

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SLOPD chief grateful gun was recovered, not used in malicious manner