Former SLO police chief fired following lengthy investigation

September 16, 2023

Steve Gesell


San Luis Obispo’s former police chief Steve Gesell was fired on Thursday by his new employer after a four-month investigation.

Following several CalCoastNews investigations that showed Gesell used public funds to pay for a family trip to Florida and also conducted an unlawful ticket quota scheme, then-San Luis Obispo City Manager Katie Lichtig put Gesell on paid leave. In an odd twist, Gesell resigned with a six-figure settlement before taking a job as police chief in Cottonwood, Arizona in 2016.

On May 11, Cottonwood’s city administration put Gesell on paid administrative leave amid allegations of sexual discrimination and harassment of a female officer. A few weeks later, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office also opened an investigation, which later determined the chief’s actions violated the Arizona Civil Rights Act.

Cottonwood officially fired Gesell on Thursday. In a similar manner to the way Gesell reacted to allegations of misconduct in SLO, he denied any wrongdoing.

“Though I never would have predicted what has transpired over the last four months, I am honored to conclude a fulfilling 34-year law enforcement career serving this community,” Gesell said in a statement. “I have no regrets and find solace in knowing I’ve never let my personal interests compromise the oath I’ve taken to heart.

“I’ve dedicated my adult life to doing what I can to contribute to the greater good. I am unwaveringly confident that the truth has a way of finding daylight. That will inevitably be the case here.”


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The graft and corruption of local officials is so brazen that it’s comical… like when Mayor Harmon abruptly quit when it came out the local pot mogul was being investigated for bribing local officials. Surely no coincidence, right?

How is it Bad Cops get jobs in other places after leaving a disaster behind?? You would think other counties/cities would in the least investigate the rep of cops they are about to hire? I mean what a PEACH Dianna Cantrell was! Leaving her gun in Pollo Loco, making a mess of it all, destroying lives. Calling it Stolen when it was found, etc. Then she just waltzes in up north, into a comfy new position. All you had to do was google her. But they paid zero attention to the buffoonery. I saw she is now retired with breast cancer. Wouldn’t wish that on anybody, but how is it all her foolery was ignored? Just like this guy?

What is going on with these police chiefs? Another naughty one was former Paso Chief Lisa Solomon, or as Jim App called her, “Lusty Lisa Petermaid”.

SLO will likely attempt to hire him back with a huge pay increase and an apology.

more likely he’ll just migrate to another red state

Oh what basis? In what reality? He was fired before and we already have a good police chief. Are you really convinced your political opponents are comic book supervillains? If so, grow up.

What’s all this red/blue inference. Stupid is as stupid does Forrest, and our politicians are corrupt idiots, both red and blue.

So many of these high paid people and Politicians commit a crine get a wrist slap 6 figure retirements and laugh at the people as they go to the bank You need to put these people in jail like you would do for the average guy

And he was hyped up as the best and brightest, just like chief Deanna Cantrell. Both turned out to be simply a POS. All one had to do was go on-line and look at the chatter and articles about their history. But, this is what the City of SLO want’s, people on the payroll that they can control because they are just like them, crooks, incompetent and/or simply crooked. Yes, he gets to retire with a huge pension. SLO just kicked the problem down the road without firing him and then the next community ends up with another POS.

Always a big pile of BS when they tell us they have to pay these outrageous salaries to get the best and the brighest, or that the best and the brighest will go work somewhere else if we dont pay enough, i say go ahead and work somewhere else.

Not to worry, he’ll retire and likely receive a $200,000+ pension, from a already broken pension system.

Same old story, do a naughty, deny it get paid leave and a fat settlement with a nice recommendation. Go to another agency do another naughty, deny it and get hefty golden parachute. Love the way the system works.