San Luis Obispo’s next police chief could start her job Jan. 4.
City Manager Katie Lichtig announced Friday that the city has made a conditional job offer to Deanna Cantrell, an assistant police chief for the Mesa Police Department in Mesa, Az. Financial details could not immediately be learned but the salary range is $147,888 to $184,860 a year.
The job offer is conditioned on passing a medical and psychological evaluation, Human Resources Director Monica Irons said in a previous interview. Last month, Lichtig announced to city staff that she had selected Cantrell as the finalist for the position and was pursuing a background check.
Cantrell’s tentative start date is Jan. 4, Lichtig said in a news release.
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Cantrell, 45, has served with the Mesa Police Department for more than 21 years and has held many positions, including motor officer, several special operations positions, internal affairs lieutenant and commander, and district commander, according to the department’s website.
As assistant chief of the department’s Administrative Services Bureau, Cantrell oversees the forensics lab, information technology, fiscal management, communications, records and supply. She oversees about 250 to 270 mostly non-sworn employees (the entire department is about 800 sworn officers and 425 civilians) and a budget of about $28 million for her areas.
She has experience working with the city of Mesa on community policing issues, has a master’s degree in administration from Northern Arizona University and extensive law enforcement leadership training.
In an interview last month, Cantrell said she was drawn to San Luis Obispo’s efforts to involve community members and stakeholders in solving problems.
“I will work incredibly hard to build upon relationships that have already been forged as well as create new ones,” Cantrell said in the news release.
San Luis Obispo has not had a permanent police chief since the abrupt departure of former Chief Steve Gesell in May, a few weeks after he was placed on paid administrative leave.
In the interim, Capt. Chris Staley, who supervises the department’s Operations Bureau, and Administrative Services Bureau Capt. Keith Storton took turns serving as acting chief. Both applied for the chief position.
The city contracted with Roberts Consulting Group, a Beverly Hills-based recruitment firm, to find candidates for the job. The firm returned with a list of about a dozen recommended candidates, Irons said, which was narrowed to five individuals who went through an interview process Oct. 22-23. Those five people included external and internal candidates, Irons said.
Panel interviews were conducted with various groups: police or public safety chiefs, department heads and community stakeholders. Candidates also met with the police officers association.
Lichtig then narrowed the field to three candidates — Cantrell, Staley and Storton — who were invited back Oct. 24 for one-on-one interviews with Lichtig, Irons, Assistant City Manager Derek Johnson and a panel of non-represented Police Department employees.
Lichtig received feedback directly from the groups and deliberated for more than a week before announcing in early November to staff that she had selected Cantrell.
The salary range for the police chief position is set at $12,324 to $15,405 a month, according to the city’s salary schedule, or $147,888 to $184,860 a year. Gesell’s annual salary in June 2014 was $160,394, with a total compensation including benefits of $264,163.