Atascadero police chief resigns

Atascadero’s police chief of two years resigned Friday to spend more time with his family, city officials announced.

In his letter of resignation to City Manager Wade McKinney, Chief Jim Mulhall said he was “taking a break” from his 35-year career in law enforcement to be with his “family, kids and grandkids.”

Cmdr. Stephen Gesell has assumed the duties of acting police chief. Gesell, 45, served 20 years in Arizona with the Scottsdale Police Department, rising to division commander, before joining the Atascadero Police Department.

“I know this job is a stressful one and that (Mulhall) has a loving, large family,” Gesell said. “It was a personal decision and we respect it.”

A search isn’t expected to take place until the summer, Gesell said, adding that he and city administrators would like some time to pass until any decision will be made about whether he would consider becoming the permanent leader of the department.

Mulhall, 58, began his service in January 2008.

Gesell said that one of Mulhall’s accomplishments was helping complete the department’s five-year strategic plan.

The department has 28 sworn officers and a budget of about $6 million, according to Gesell.

Mulhall replaced former Atascadero Police Chief John Couch.