SLO Police Chief Cantrell cancels “PEACE” talk coverage

Chief Deanna Cantrell

Update: San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell has changed her mind, and will permit KVEC to cover the “PEACE talk” on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

By CCT Staff

San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell on Tuesday nixed plans by radio station KVEC to broadcast a San Luis Obispo police department community forum.

Cantrell is scheduled to host a public “PEACE talk” on “Use of Force” by police officers on Wednesday, January 29 at 6 p.m.  The event, the latest in a series of Police Education and Community Engagement (PEACE) presentations, is scheduled for the Copeland Health Education Pavilion behind French Hospital.

Pepper Daniels, KVEC programming director, announced Cantrell’s decision on-air Tuesday at the beginning of the 6 p.m. hour of “The Dave Congalton Show.”

Daniels reached out to Christine Wallace, the police department’s community outreach coordinator, last Friday to offer live coverage, commercial-free on KVEC, Daniels said. Arrangements were made and the station began promoting the coverage on Monday.

All that changed when Wallace called Daniels Tuesday afternoon.

“We have been disinvited,” Daniels explained to KVEC listeners. “The chief asked us not to show up.”

Daniels said he was “flabbergasted” by Cantrell’s decision. “I said, ‘Do you feel the irony here?’ But with that topic (use of force) being very, very hot right now, they didn’t know what the room was going to be like and they didn’t feel comfortable with us maybe broadcasting everything and anything that could happen there.”

Daniels called the decision to broadcast the community outreach forum a “no brainer.”

“It seemed like the point of these forums is to get the word out to the public,” Daniels said. “By not doing it, it sounds sort of contradictory.”

Former KSBY news anchor Dan Shadwell was Congalton’s scheduled guest for the hour. He was also critical of Cantrell’s decision.

“It’s not a smart move,” Shadwell said on-air. “From a PR standpoint, any time you shut out the media, it looks suspicious. It’s a real public service to broadcast these things.”

Reached for comment Tuesday night, Congalton agreed that the decision was disappointing.

“KVEC is the oldest radio station on the Central Coast,” Congalton said. “We’ve been broadcasting community forums since 1937 and I bet this is the first time we’ve ever been disinvited.”

There are only 120 seats available for the Wednesday night forum. People interested in attending must sign up in advance. For more information, contact the San Luis Obispo police department at 805-781-7186.