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SLO Police Chief learns fate after leaving personal gun in restaurant bathroom

Posted at 2:05 PM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 20:10:09-04

San Luis Obispo City officials announced what disciplinary actions it will take towards San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell on Wednesday, one week after she left her personal firearm unattended in a bathroom in San Luis Obispo.

San Luis Obispo City Manager Derek Johnson said Cantrell will get a one-time pay reduction of $1,598, additional training in firearm safety practices and a will have to talk to all members in the police department about the incident and the lessons learned that apply to all officers carrying a firearm. The one-time pay reduction is equivalent to a two-day unpaid suspension.

Last week, on July 10, Cantrell said she left her personal firearm at the El Pollo Loco on Los Osos Valley Road in San Luis Obispo.

Cantrell said in a YouTube video statement that the gun was in a holster but she removed it because it did not stay clipped to her pants. She said she noticed the gun was missing within minutes, but by the time she went back into the bathroom to retrieve it, the gun was gone.


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

Police released surveillance photos of the man they believed took it.

The man reportedly turned it into authorities Thursday evening and admitted to finding it in the restaurant’s restroom where he put it into his pocket and took it to his Los Osos home.


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

The city launched an independent investigation after the incident and after reviewing security footage it said Cantrell made two unintended city policy violations.

  1. She violated San Luis Obispo Police Department policy 311.3.4 which says “the Handgun shall be carried concealed at all times and in such a manner as to prevent unintentional cocking, discharge or loss of physical control.”
  2. She violated San Luis Obispo Police Department policy 339.5.10 which states “failure to observe or violating department safety standards or safe working practices.”

In his statement, Johnson said law enforcement is held to the highest standards of conduct and Chief Cantrell “violated Police Department policies and did not meet the high standards for safety and attentiveness expected of her role in the community.”

However, the city said that the police department and Cantrell did immediately and publicly disclose her actions, accepted responsibility, apologized and was transparent about the entire issue.

“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 posted last week. “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.”

Last week Cantrell said she expected to be held accountable for her actions.

In the city’s statement, Johnson said he continues to have confidence in Cantrel’s leadership of the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

“I have no doubts that this experience will drive Chief Cantrell to be even more vigilant, in both her leadership of the Department and her own personal conduct,” Johnson said Wednesday’s statement.

He said Cantrell’s clear and decisive actions helped investigators establish a verified timeline of events, identify a suspect and distribute a photo of the suspect, which ultimately helped the police department get the firearm back.

“I am grateful for the individuals who reported and then safely turned in the firearm after it was taken from the restaurant,” Johnson said. “The City also wishes to express our sincere appreciation for the collective actions of members of the public and our law enforcement partners from other agencies who helped ensure no one was harmed as a result of this incident. For that, the City is grateful.”

After the discipline was announced, Chief Cantrell told KSBY News she agrees with the city manager and accepts her punishment. However, she declined any further comment, referring us to the statement by Derek Johnson.

The full statement from the city is available here.