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San Luis Obispo County

San Luis Obispo asking for community input in search for next police chief

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - The City of San Luis Obispo is looking for a new chief of police and is inviting community members to provide input on what skills and experience should be prioritized in the search.

The city launched a national recruitment for a new chief following the departure of previous chief, Deanna Cantrell. Cantrell has since accepted a the same position with the Fairfield Police Department.

Cantrell served nearly five years as Chief of the San Luis Obispo Police Department. Her tenure led to criticism at times, particularly in her final months due to her department's handling of Black Lives Matter protests. Cantrell faced calls for her resignation after the department used tear gas to break up one demonstration as well as her decision to recommend felony charges against Tianna Arata, the organizer of a separate protest.

Jeff Smith, who previously served as captain in the police department, was named interim police chief in October.

Now San Luis Obispo is asking community members, business owners and other residents to complete an online survey to help with the process of finding a new leader for the police department, in hopes that the next chief reflects the desires of the community.

"The survey lays the groundwork for a robust, nationwide search conducted by Public Sector Search and Consulting, a firm with extensive knowledge and expertise in contemporary policing practices and recruiting," the city said in a press release.

City officials said the survey touches on a variety of topics, including what experiences and qualifications are deemed essential for the position. The results of the survey will be used to guide the search process, which is set to begin in January.

“Engaging with the community on the type of experiences, qualifications and approach to leading the Police Department is an important first step in the process,” City Manager Derek Johnson said. “We are confident that this approach will identify the key qualities in our next Police Chief and attract highly qualified candidates for this important leadership position.”

The survey is available online and help is available for Spanish speakers by calling 805-781-7100

The survey closes at 5 p.m. on Nov. 23.

San Luis Obispo residents are encouraged to follow along with the process by signing up for City News notifications or by following on social media.

Crime / Safety
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Travis Schlepp

Travis Schlepp is the Digital Content Director for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Travis, click here.

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