Finalist selected for SLO police chief job

November 6, 2015
Deanna Cantrell

Deanna Cantrell

San Luis Obispo City Manager Katie Lichtig has selected an assistant police chief in Mesa, Ariz. as the person to head the city’s police department. [Tribune]

Deanna Cantrell, 45, beat out both of San Luis Obispo’s current police captains for the position. She must still pass a background investigation before the city hires her.

Cantrell has been a member of the Mesa Police Department for 21 years. She currently serves as assistant chief of the department’s administrative services bureau.

In that position, Cantrell oversees the police department’s forensics lab, information technology, fiscal management, communications, records and supply. She has a staff of about 250 to 270, most of whom are non-sworn employees of the department.

San Luis Obispo has not had a permanent chief since Steve Gesell parted ways with the city in May following a feud with Lichtig. Since then, captains Chris Staley and Keith Storton have rotated as acting chief.

Both Staley and Storton applied for the full-time position and reached the final stage of interviews. Cantrell, Staley and Storton were the three finalists for the job.

Each of the three candidates participated in one-on-one interviews with Lichtig, Human Resources Director Monica Irons and Assistant City Manager Derek Johnson. Lichtig has final say as to appointment of city department heads.

Irons said Cantrell’s background investigation will likely conclude by Thanksgiving. The city expects to have a new chief in place by the end of the year, Irons said.

fishing village

Wow, what a bunch of meanies. I don’t know who you grew up with but the women in my family were always the most understanding, sensitive, caring parent. Men are threatened when a woman is chosen for a role (how many women Police Chiefs in the US, in California?) usually filled by men. You can’t deny women have not been given the opportunities in a lot of fields, Architecture, Engineering that men just automatically are selected for. We need to change our thinking so that women are given equal pay and equal opportunities! Time for a change away from the ‘good ole boys’ rule and women need to sit in the back of the bus! Good for SLO for selecting a woman as Police Chief.

How progressive!


Red Herring, it is not about sexism, but you can pretend if that is what you are into.

It’s about Katie picking a new chief 11 miles from where the old chief came from, it’s about how people (you, me, poor people, homeless people) are treated.

San Luis Obispo does not need Joe Arpaio style trained law enforcement.

Just wait till you see the employment contract, welcome to PERS…..


I seem to recall that chief Gesell also came from a police department in Arizona. Arizona tends to have a different flavor in law enforcement and is about 30 years behind California in tone and temperament. My prediction is that this chief, unless she is another screwball, will last about two years before Lichtig dismisses her because she’s not leftist enough.


Yes you are correct, Gesell came from the Scottsdale (AZ) Police Department and Cantrell is from Mesa, Ariz.

Fun fact we had all of America, to look for a new police chief and “Katie Lichtig has selected” a new chief who works only 11 miles from where Gesell came from? If anyone thinks this is coincidence, pass it around you got the good stuff.

Also both Gesell and Cantrell had Joe Arpaio as a Sheriff, what a good influence

Wtf is going on with our city, Katie?


Oh I think the new chief and Lichtig have more in common than just gender..

Good luck SLOPD officers and managers, you’ll need it.

Downtown Bob

It seems very unlikely this person from Mesa Arizona with only 21 years of experience would have a combined experience and knowledge of our local area to beat out two local officers that applied. I wonder if sexual orientation factored into the decision by the city manager?


No its about control, Cantrell comes from right wing Maricopa County Az, and will be easy for Katie to “Manage”.

Sort of like the CIA likes Mormon applicants because they follow the rules and do what they are told.

This is just another in a series of Katie drivin management changes at the city with Jan Marx asleep at the wheel or just a being paper Mayor.


This is weird. They announce her appointment BEFORE doing a background check? And then whea when they find some things? Lichtig’s a fool. Lichtig must go.


Typo: “whea” was suppposed to be “what do they do …”

Mr. Holly

They really spend all of this money “searching” for a candidate when in fact they really know who they are going to choose from the beginning. The process supposedly protects them as far as appearing to be fair.

Should be interesting to see where this goes.


As I think about this, it’s even weirder. This is Steve Gesell all over again. He from Scottsdale, she from Mesa. Both of them have similar educational backgrounds — same universities, etc. Same sort of professional data. How can this be coincidence? Sometimes coincidences are just too coincidental.

Check her Linked in vs. his official bio from City of SLO if you don’t believe it. Other than gender, sounds much the same.


Yes “He from Scottsdale, she from Mesa.” 11 Miles apart, both in Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County.

It’s not weird it was planned.


When you do an internet search for her, lots of red flags pop-up, thus she will fit right in with the questionable shit in SLOTOWN USA.


Guess the other two weren’t “Butch” enough for the position.


From RipOff Report, Meza, AZ:

“To make a long story short, I was on my way home from work on Friday 2-25-00, officer D. Cantrell pulled me over for making a “wide turn.”She thought I had smoked marijuana in the past 24 hours because my pupils appeared large, and told me to step out the vehicle. I had told her I was taking Sudafed for a cold I had at the time and asked if that could be a reason why my pupils were large. I also told her I had taken a Dexatrim earlier that morning. She ruled everything out and had no doubt in her mind that I was “stoned.” She administered the Walk and Turn, One Leg Stand and the Finger to nose test and several others. I felt I had passed them all.

She then arrested me for a DUI for drugs. I took a urinalysis at the site and was not worried about it. She kept trying to get me to admit that I smoked marijuana. Cantrell and some of the other officers kept making jokes about the situation. One of the many comments she made was, “Have you ever done crack or heroin to lose weight,” talking about the fact that I had taken Dexatrim. All the officers laughed at her comment. I felt that I was harassed by officer Cantrell and the other officers that night.

On March 30, 2000 the results from the urinalysis came back. I was tested for six drugs, including cannibas, and everything came back negative.

Cantrell never mentioned in the police report that I had taken Sudafed or that I even had a cold. She made it seem like I was walking into walls, stoned out of my mind.

I feel that officers need to have more knowledge about the effects of over the counter medication. If she didn’t know, it is known that Sudafed is used to make illegal drugs, such as “crank.” That could have been that reason for my dilated pupils.

Veronica G.


Lichtig is nothing but a tool. It is becoming clearer exactly who’s tool she is. The developers are going to purge SLO of any local control. A Jim Hill-style purging of the SLO City Council is in order.