SLO police chief fined $1,600 for losing her gun

July 17, 2019

Chief Deanna Cantrell

As punishment for losing her gun in a restaurant bathroom, San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell must forfeit approximately $1,600 in pay, according to an announcement by the city of SLO. [Cal Coast Times]

At about noon on July 10, Cantrell was eating lunch at El Pollo Loco on Los Osos Valley Road when she went to the restroom and inadvertently left her personal firearm in the stall. Having realized her mistake, she returned to the restaurant shortly afterwards and found the gun had been stolen.

On the evening of July 11, Skeeter Carlos Mangan, 30, turned in the firearm at the sheriff’s substation in Los Osos. Mangan admitted in an interview that he found the gun in the El Pollo Loco restroom and grabbed it, according to police.

The city conducted an investigation into the incident and found Cantrell violated two department policies. One of the policies states a secondary handgun must be carried concealed at all times and in a manner that prevents unintentional cocking, discharge or loss of physical control.

The other department policy Cantrell was found to have violated is a rule on following department safety standards and safe working practices.

City officials opted to punish Cantrell by fining her $1,598, which is the equivalent of two days of pay. Cantrell will also receive documentation in her personnel file.

Likewise, the chief must undergo training in firearm safety practices and hold a discussion with all members of the police department about the incident and the lessons learned that apply to all officers who carry firearms.

City Manager Derek Johnson said that Cantrell will keep her job and that he continues to have confidence in her.

“I continue to have confidence in Chief Cantrell’s leadership of the police department in a positive and professional manner ensuring a workplace and community that is safe and devoted to the highest level and standards of service. I have no doubts that this experience will drive Chief Cantrell to be even more vigilant, in both her leadership of the department and her own personal conduct,” Johnson stated. “Chief Cantrell displayed integrity throughout the incident, which is consistent with the high standards she sets for herself and her department. She immediately reported the incident, took full responsibility, initiated an investigation and ensured the firearm was added to the national database. All these factors weighed heavily in making my decision on corrective measures moving forward.”

Johnson said the city is not forwarding its investigation to the district attorney’s office because the incident does not meet any of the legal thresholds for prosecution.


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This is surreal! She leaves a loaded firearm in a public place and the City Manager is blithering about her high standards, yadda yadda yadda. Did anyone else note that she’s paid $800 a day? I cant stand the world we live in with bs artist politicians and bumbling beaurocrats. I guess I’m one of those cowards Heidi Harmon railed about. You know the type, expecting responsible behavior from elected and appointed government officials.


fat chance

A hundred a hour….not to bad!! I’m sure she earns it. Yea, sure.


The punishment dealt the Chief is much to severe. Police officers are human and like all humans they sometimes loose things even guns. The Chief didn’t really loose her gun. She misplaced it and immediately went to retrieve it. The fact that a third-party would appropriate the weapon (for a day) was fortuitous and unforeseeable and relives the Chief from negligence.

Prior to the disciplinary decision (by who) the Chief had already suffered public humiliation and would be known for “loosing her weapon” for years, Ordering her to humiliate herself further by discussing her bad luck with her subordinates undermines her authority as Chief. It weakens her authority and effectiveness.

Placing a record of the incident in her personnel file could make it more difficult for her seek employment as Chief of a different department. It is well known that police chiefs of small departments routinely move to lager departments as they gain experience or after they retire.

This excessive discipline also hurts recruitment which is already difficult. Potential recruits thinking if they will take such extreme action against the Chief what happens if I make a mistake?

The cop haters out there will disagree they jump at any opportunity to see a police officer disparaged.

If I were the Chief I would start circulating my resume immediately and find a department that understands the role of a police Chief and doesn’t unnecessarily undermine their authority. If she does any less maybe I’m mistaken,


Doubtful/ wrong on many points.

#1 “The Chief didn’t really loose her gun. She misplaced it” . She did not “misplace” it at her house like looking for your car keys she left it in a public restroom and when she returned it was gone, she lost it.

#2 “the Chief had already suffered public humiliation – It weakens her authority and effectiveness.” hardly public humiliation and given the many other issues with the department this one is hardly the one to weaken her authority.

#3 “could make it more difficult for her seek employment as Chief of a different department” given how we all know when one government employee moves from one job to another and that all past issues are protected under the cloud of “it’s a personal issue” doubtful this issue will have any issues when she moves to another department.

#4 “This excessive discipline also hurts recruitment”, lets see a 1/2% percent reduction in pay is excessive? If as you say this “mistake” would make others think twice about working here I would think a reduction in at least a full percent say 10% or more could possibly but certainly not a 1/2%, that is seen as a slap on the wrist and would make potential employee’s think gee not real punishment from this department should I loose my gun……

#5 I hope she does circulate her resume, the sooner the better. Some one who earns more in 2 days than many do in 2 weeks and then has her department mouthpiece claim that the person who found her lost gun could face charges is just trying to bully this innocent person. Her outrageous salary is just one of the reason the city has to always threaten the reduction of services or the increase of fees and taxes when surprise the city claims to be running out of money. I think we all know where the money is being wasted. Lets hope the new chief is paid a reasonable salary but we all know that won’t happen.


I fully believe the “handle” of this poster, R.P.Officer. He/she comments like one. It’s nice when posters use accurate, self-descriptive handles, like mine for instance.

But on point: The tiny fine is the whitewash/wrist-slap which we all anticipated.

A serf would get a criminal charge for “endangering children”, an unforgiving jury would convict the serf, and the serf would lose their right to own or even be in the same dwelling (read the statute) as a firearm for ten years, or for life.

But I DO LIKE the suggestion of Cantrell using her resume to move on. With her inaction on street bums, confrontational panhandlers, uncorked motorcycles ruining our aural street environment and cafes, stolen goods at the swap meet, I’d prefer a less forgetful and more pro-active chief.

coronet blue

“excessive discipline”? Is this a joke, or satire? Wow, I guess cops really do protect their own, and have a special set of rules they get to follow.


She did not “loose” her gun – it’s “lose” or “lost”. Now she was “loose” with her gun.

A more serious point – what is the consequence for a citizen in this situation? Would it be a fine or jail time?


With due respect “Retiredpoliceofficer”:

I get what you are saying; however, there’s more to this incident that has legs to various avenues that most certainly will be overlooked by most in the community in having long term ramifications.

It will be easier to bullet point:

• There is a difference of leaving/losing city issued keys to most locked gates of the city that officers carry as compared to a loaded firearm. Discipline is carried out differently as in “… failing to control city property”. Losing a key vs. a loaded gun in a public setting have different values.

• A police Chief by its very nature is held to a higher standard by which officers perceive and emulate. By extension, discipline then should be dispensed equally from the top to the bottom.

• The failure to control retention of a gun put the public in harms way. In today’s climate with kids acquiring guns and shooting themselves, or others, takes this to another level not seen 20-30 years ago. Today it is different.

• “Fining” the Chief as indicated in newsies from San Diego to San Francisco to include NPR (National Public Radio) $1600 is only part of the answer. In terms of her talking to her cabal of officers will only viewed by them in wondering ‘what if it had happened to me, will I be let off with only a fine, or an entry in my personnel file, or a letter of reprimand – I’ll wait and see now the disposition ends’.

• If the Chief avoids further discipline then I can safely state that SLO primarily will have a hard time in disciplining, because a standard will be set from which others will use in their defense.

• Also, was the City Manager premature indicating the punishment for the Chief? The Chief regardless of one thinks has the right to “due process” and public officials should not be talking about it until it is a done deal. Was the Chief not covered by the Police Officers Bill of Rights?

• Why is the Police Union quiet on this subject? They are usually open about their beliefs. By extension, the Chief is only as good as the officers in the department, a symbiosis necessary in a police environment for mutual trust where lives are often at stake.

In essence, will this be the only type of discipline incurred by the Chief? It would be a shame for San Luis Obispo should this be the case, because further difficulty will be incurred enforcing further issues of similar types, since it will become the standard.

It’s understandable the populace enjoys the presence of the Chief positively, but one has to set this aside and pursue a greater commitment to the community, instead of to one person. Low discipline and low standards will certainly have long term effects that likely will affect us all.


Cop haters have ZIP to do with this. ZERO. They are another issue, and it is relative.

Some cops I’ve been lucky enough to know and love, look at their job as solving problems among many jerkhoses as amicably as possible before resorting to legal force, be it arrest or bullets. Life is full of crazy people; somebody’s dirty job is to go out and keep the peace among them, those kinds of cops.

Then there are some cops who think anyone who disputes them is a “cop hater.”

This woman would be IN JAIL if she was a private citizen. That’s just a fact, Jack.


Two sets of justice…one for them and one for us…aren’t you good people of California tired of this yet?….


I’m surprised they fined her. The position being taken here is to try to seem like she’s being treated as an “equal” under the law. That’s why the fine is surprising.

Serf’s equality would lead to charges/jail time in this situation with larger fines than 1600.00.

But Nobleperson’s equality is such that they don’t pay anything in situations like this.

This is unprecedented! A police officer is being fined for breaking a law? We live in strange times……


So they are honestly saying that if John Q. Public had left their firearm in a similar fashion “…the incident [would] not meet any of the legal thresholds for prosecution.”?? Seriously??? — Somehow I find that hard to believe.

fat chance

Two days pay….nice.

Mitch C

I wish the news media would stop referring to the gun as stolen. It wasn’t stolen! The gun was left in the restaurant restroom. The gun was found. When it was found the finder had no way of knowing to whom it belonged. A gun sitting in an empty restroom. What was one to do? A $100 bill sitting on the floor of a restroom, what is one to do?

Fortunately the Chief, the city, and its citizens dodged a bullet. What could have been a tragedy ended without incident. The fine and school attendance are somewhat silly: at her salary the amount is meaningless and the safety training is a waste of time because it has already dawned on her not to leave her gun unattended in a restroom. Time to move on.



It is outrageous that this case was handled by giving discredited SLO police chief, Deanna Cantrell, a slap on the wrist, and a criminal grand jury ought to ascertain if any crimes were committed. Allowing Ms. Cantrell’s work friends to determine her employee discipline is akin to allowing the defense attorneys to pronounce the senate.

San Luis Obispo City Manager Derek Johnson and SLO Human Resource Director Monica Irons both should not be involved in adjudicating their friends work behavior, and taxpayers should have seen an independent investigation of Deanna Cantrell.

As the City of SLO finishes sweeping this sordid incident under the table, I think it is important to note that a private citizen would have been charged with a crime, and a lower level law enforcement officer would have been suspended immediately, and the city would have sought to fire him.

Deanna Cantrell should be held to a HIGHER standard, not vive-versa.


Absolutely RIDICULOUS! But we ALL saw that coming! Had you or I made such a potentially grave error, every pertinent CA law would be thrown at us and then some. $1600?!! Chump change for the elite, protected class. She should be looking for employment by now.

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