SLO police chief disciplined for losing gun at a restaurant — but she’ll keep her job

It was determined that San Luis Obispo’s police chief inadvertently violated two city policies when she left her gun in the bathroom of a local restaurant, but she won’t miss any time on the job as a result.

Chief Deanna Cantrell faces a one-time pay reduction of about $1,600, firearm safety training and a required discussion with all members of the city’s police department for losing her gun at an El Pollo Loco restaurant on July 10, according to a city news release.

The punishment was handed down by City Manager Derek Johnson, who issued a statement Wednesday saying, “I continue to have confidence in Chief Cantrell’s leadership of the police department.”

Johnson said Cantrell violated one policy, stating “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” and another for failing to observe “safety standards or safe working practices.”

Johnson said in the statement that Cantrell was “transparent and forthcoming in the inadvertent loss of her personal firearm in a restroom and fully cooperated with a thorough follow-up investigation.”

Cantrell’s punishment includes:

A one-time pay reduction of $1,598, equivalent to a two-day unpaid suspension, with documentation in her personnel file.

Training in firearm safety practices.

A personal discussion with all members of the SLOPD “about this incident and the lessons learned that apply to all officers carrying firearms.”

“I believe the public has a right to expect law enforcement be held to the highest standards of conduct,” Johnson stated. “Carrying a firearm is a significant responsibility. Chief Cantrell violated police department policies and did not meet the high standards for safety and attentiveness expected of her role in the community.”

But Johnson also noted her “clear and decisive actions” quickly established a timeline of events and helped to identify the man who recovered the gun, leading to its safe return.

Skeeter Carlos Mangan, 30, of Los Osos turned the firearm in after finding, according to the city.

“I am grateful for the individuals who reported and then safely turned in the firearm after it was taken from the restaurant,” Johnson stated. “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.”

Johnson said Cantrell displayed “integrity throughout the incident.”

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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.