Letters to the Editor

SLO police chief lost her gun; here’s what readers have to say about that

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.

Trib’s editorial ‘appalling’

OMG, I am appalled by The Tribune’s editorial about Police Chief Deanna Cantrell. She did not leave her hat but a loaded weapon in the restroom used by the general public. How many people have been killed by a loaded weapon?

If a child or a drug dealer found the gun and had either hurt themselves or killed someone, the news media would have a different headline. Why do we have gun laws anyway? This is a careless act by Chief Cantrell, who is to serve and protect. She should step down and let a responsible chief do her job. Mr. Skeeter Carlos Mangan should not be charged or fined but thanked for removing a loaded weapon out hands of the public.

Jerry Knuppenburg, Paso Robles

Don’t blame Skeeter

Skeeter Mangan, with no intention of forethought, came upon an unattended, loaded gun. He did the smart thing by removing this clear and present evil and possibly disastrous situation.

Think of the possibilities of the 10-year-old boy finding the loaded gun, inquisitively playing with it, and the gun discharging, possibly injuring himself or the next patron entering the room.

Had I been place in his situation, I would have removed the gun, taken a seat in the restaurant and called 911.

What was so compelling for our police chief to not realize she no longer had possession of her weapon for the time it took three patrons to enter the restroom? Was she on her phone? Was she texting? Was there another situation needing her immediate attention?

Charge Skeeter with possession of a stolen firearm? No way. And to his brother-in-law, award him a commendation for thwarting this situation immediately by calling the police and turning over the firearm. The amount of time and money possibly spent by the city searching for this firearm would clearly be high in numbers had he not reacted so quickly.

Linda Shinn, San Luis Obispo

Possession of a stolen firearm?

I am bewildered by the idea that Mr. Skeeter Mangan could be charged with possession of a stolen firearm. Possession of a “lost firearm” or a “misplaced firearm” maybe, but not stolen. I get it that taking it home before reporting its discovery may not have been the way to go, but I don’t think that walking up to the front counter in El Pollo Loco with gun in hand and asking for the manager would have worked out very well either.

How was he supposed to know that it was a law enforcement officers firearm? Did she leave her badge and ID with it as the A.G. chief did? Thank goodness he did remove the weapon since the next person to enter the restroom was a 10-year-old boy. That could have ended very differently. I guess I’m just not very clear on how finding something would mean that you are in possession of stolen property. I am glad the weapon was found, I’m glad it was returned, and I’m glad no one was hurt but please don’t penalize Skeeter for turning it in.

Mike Teehee, San Luis Obispo

Kudos for Cantrell

When the city of San Luis Obispo hired Police Chief Deanna Cantrell in November of 2015, I thought the city got it right. However, when I sat down for a conversation with the chief, that’s when I knew full well the city had it right.

As the editor of a legal publication at that time, I interviewed Chief Cantrell in person. Her character is unflappable. Her integrity an example to us all. This truth remains as steadfast today as it did the day of that interview.

Chief Cantrell is highly respected by the bench and bar. And the community is well served by the exemplary work of her department. May we all endeavor to exhibit such grace under pressure.

Jennifer Alton, Shell Beach

How about a warning sign?

The County Health Department requires all restaurants to post in their rest rooms signage reminding patrons (and requiring employees) to wash their hands. How about adding a reminder to remember not to leave your weapon behind?

Phil Bauman, Morro Bay

She set an example

SLO Police Chief Deanna Cantrell is a perfect example of exactly how supervisors should respond when they have made a mistake that would likely warrant disciplinary action for anyone under her command. She owns it and insists she be held to the same standards as any other officer. Chief Cantrell is a class act and a superior role model. SLO is lucky to have her.

Michael S. Miller, Arroyo Grande

Honesty bar too low

It is too bad the bar for being honest, and not constantly lying, has been set so low in our country, from the occupant of the White House in daily lying, to the SLO police chief admitting to her lack of gun control issue.

I don’t believe she should get a gold star from The Tribune for just telling the truth, especially since the facts would come out very quickly anyway. Why does a police chief in a low violent crime area even need a gun? Has a police chief in SLO ever needed to pull a weapon for defense or protection of the public?

As a patrol officer in a high crime area, I was very aware of having a gun on me at all times, and would train often to keep muscle memory. I don’t know the required weapons training in SLO, or if it is lower for administrative officers, but procedures should be updated. Not having frequent training can make for a dangerous situation if an officer is required to pull their weapon in a public place.

Bill Headrick, San Luis Obispo

SLO’s a safe city

The chief of police was fined nearly $1,600 for her recent mistake. She gets $800 a day for being the chief of police in the safe city of San Luis Obispo, and the only time she has to draw her gun is when she uses the bathroom.

John Koepf, Arroyo Grande

Trib’s defense of chief ‘unconscionable’

It’s impossible to justify The Tribune Editorial Board’s unconscionable defense of Chief Deanna Cantrell and her “lost-my-gun” irresponsibility.

I sure hope the board didn’t injure itself bending over backwards to defend Cantrell’s criminal negligence.

She is supposedly a trained professional who has, no doubt, repeatedly told her officers how important it is to maintain the custody of one’s firearm, yet she showed complete disregard and incompetence.

So, all you do is congratulate her for her stepping forward to say “oops” and “I won’t do it again”?

At minimum, suspend her for months without pay and reinstate her only when she shows that she’s learned her lesson.

Early on, Cantrell went on a publicity tour to tell us that, when we have an issue with cops, it’s because we, the public, misread the situation and just don’t understand.

Well, respect is earned and the chief disrespected not only the public, in general, but the many women who have striven for equality in hiring and treatment.

What d’ya suppose the DA would do with a regular citizen who did what Cantrell did? No, wait, it’s Dan Dow. If that citizen were rich and white, like Cantrell, he wouldn’t even prosecute.

Will Powers, San Luis Obispo

Give her a break

I expect small arms training isn’t substantially different for police officers than for military service members. Losing personal control of your weapon is serious stuff.

But that said, it can happen to the best of us.

At the end of a lengthy training evolution at Camp Pendleton during the Vietnam era, our battalion Weapons Officer left an M60 machine gun behind. To make a long story short, I drove it 150 miles back to base in the trunk of my POV (privately owned vehicle) — making for a nervous drive through the LA Basin. The WO got an NJP reprimand (non-judicial punishment) — not a dishonorable discharge — and I got chewed-out for putting it in my car.

I can attest to the fact that it made him a better WO, and I expect that losing control of her sidearm will make Chief Deanna Cantrell an even better police chief. So, my vote is to give her a break.

Sam Saltoun, Nipomo

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