SLO police chief facing administrative leave
May 8, 2015
By CalCoastNews Staff
San Luis Obispo Police Chief Steve Gesell will be placed on paid administrative leave by the end of the work day, today, Friday, May 8, sources say. It is the first step in what reliable and informed sources say is City Manager Katie Lichtig’s plan to remove Gesell from the city payroll.
Those sources have confirmed rumors that have been swirling for months that Lichtig has irreconcilable differences with the chief. City officials are not disclosing the reason for Gesell’s departure. The city council is expected next week to discuss a payout, likely to be in six figures.
Responding to a CalCoastNews exclusive earlier this year that detailed multiple violations of city travel reimbursement policies by Gesell, Lichtig said some of the police chief’s financial transgressions were “mistakes.”
In other cases, Gesell’s actions violated written city policies. Nevertheless, Lichtig and Director of Finance Wayne Padilla dismissed concerns about many of the violations. Gesell’s actions were excused as a “consistent application” of policy according to a “historical interpretation.” Historical interpretation means that even though policies and procedures have been laid out, prior practice allows them to be violated without consequence.
Some of Gesell’s expenses that have been questioned involved participation in events sponsored by the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST). Lichtig and Gesell went on some of the POST-funded trips together.
City officials refused to comply with requests for documents under the California Public Records Act showing expenditures for the training. City officials said Tuesday that they disposed of all requests for financial reimbursements from POST and none were available for review.
POST officials said the city is required by California law to retain the records for a minimum of three years.
Lichtig and Gesell did not respond to requests for comment.
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