San Luis Obispo’s new police chief starts Jan. 4

Deanna Cantrell, San Luis Obispo’s new police chief, will start work on Jan. 4 and officially be sworn in at the beginning of the City Council’s Jan. 19 meeting.

San Luis Obispo City Manager Katie Lichtig announced in a news release Friday that Cantrell, an assistant police chief for the Mesa Police Department in Mesa, Az., had successfully completed the conditions outlined in a Dec. 1 preliminary job offer, including medical and psychological evaluations.

The conditional job offer had included an annual salary of $171,600. The salary range for the position is $147,888 to $184,860 a year; former Chief Steve Gesell’s annual salary in June 2014 was $160,394, with a total compensation including benefits of $264,163.

Cantrell also is entitled to the same benefits as other department heads: health insurance, retirement and supplemental retirement plans, and a vehicle or uniform allowance. She may also receive up to $15,000 in reimbursement for relocation expenses, said Jon Ansolabehere, the city’s assistant city attorney and interim city clerk.

Lichtig said Cantrell has already started reaching out to police and other city staff to ensure a smooth transition into the job.

“My family and I are very excited about transitioning to San Luis Obispo and look forward to becoming members of this wonderful community,” Cantrell said in the news release.

In a previous interview, Cantrell said she was drawn to San Luis Obispo’s efforts to involve community members and stakeholders in solving problems.

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.

Cynthia Lambert: 805-781-7929, @ClambertSLO