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Think a police chief losing a gun is odd? It’s happened before in SLO County

SLO police chief apologizes for ‘carelessness’ of leaving gun in bathroom

San Luis Obispo, California, Police Chief Deanna Cantrell apologizes after she left her gun in the bathroom at El Pollo Loco restaurant.
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San Luis Obispo, California, Police Chief Deanna Cantrell apologizes after she left her gun in the bathroom at El Pollo Loco restaurant.

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More coverage on the SLO police chief’s lost gun

Chief Deanna Cantrell left her gun in the bathroom at El Pollo Loco. Who took it and should she be disciplined? Read more here:


Though San Luis Obispo’s police chief’s misplacement of her gun this week may seem unusual, a review of similar public incidents shows several key local police officials have lost their firearms in the past.

SLO Police Chief Deanna Cantrell acknowledged leaving her gun in the bathroom Wednesday of a restaurant on Los Osos Valley Road, and police still are investigating who may have taken it.

But in recent years, two former local city chiefs also lost their weapons, and a former SLO city councilman and bar owner who went to work for the Morro Bay police department faced a similar gun-related incident.

A.G.’s chief has gun stolen

Arroyo Grande’s former top official, Steve Annibali, who retired in 2017, had his gun stolen in 2013. Annibali’s handgun, ammunition, badge and ID were stolen out of his locked, unmarked police car.

Annibali acknowledged violating city policy by leaving the car parked on the street, rather than in a driveway or garage, and by storing the gun in the interior of the car, rather than the trunk, according to past Tribune reports. Annibali was disciplined, but because it was a personnel matter, the city did not disclose what action was taken.

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Former Arroyo Grande police Chief Steve Annibali speaks during a news conference in 2011. Annibali left a gun in his car in 2013, which was stolen. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Paso chief’s gun stolen from car

In 2008, former Paso Robles police chief Lisa Solomon also left a loaded handgun that was stolen from the center console of her unlocked, unmarked police vehicle while it was parked at her Paso Robles home.

Solomon acknowledged the mistake, but didn’t face investigation. Then City Manager Jim App agreed that Solomon made an error in judgment in not locking her car but didn’t discipline her. It was App’s opinion that Solomon’s two decades of positive service to the city “outweighed this one mistake,” he said then.

Solomon was relieved of her command in 2012, then facing a complaint accusing her of sexually harassing a former officer and a lawsuit over alleged traffic-ticket quotas.

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Lisa Solomon, former chief of the Paso Robles Police Department. In 2008, Solomon also left a loaded handgun that was stolen from the center console of an unlocked, unmarked police vehicle. David Middlecamp

Morro Bay officer, SLO councilman resigns after guns stolen

Paul Brown, a former San Luis Obispo city councilman and former owner of Mother’s Tavern, was a police officer in training with the Morro Bay Police Department in 2011 when two guns were stolen from his personal car parked outside his San Luis Obispo home.

A department investigation could have resulted in potential discipline if it was found that Brown had violated any department policies. But Brown resigned, saying his departure was “in the best interests of myself and the (Morro Bay police) department.”

According to The Trace, a nonprofit news organization that reports on gun violence, at least 1,781 law enforcement guns were lost or stolen between 2008 and 2017. But the survey just covered approximately 100 departments in 29 states.

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.

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