Chief Stephen Gesell completed a distinguished 20-year career with the Scottsdale (AZ) Police Department rising to the rank of division commander. He has a highly diverse professional background in policing that includes positions such as patrol officer, bicycle patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration task force agent, internal affairs investigator, basic training sergeant, and detective sergeant. His middle and upper management positions include service as a patrol watch commander, oversight of a section comprised of specialty patrol-based units, command over a multi-agency section comprised of covert units primarily focused on drug enforcement and organized crime, SWAT team commander, and finally division commander with oversight over all specialty patrol-based units as well as Detention.
In late 2009, Chief Gesell was selected as a commander for the Atascadero (CA) Police Department following a national recruitment. He was responsible for guiding staff members through the strategic planning process, ultimately resulting in the construction of a comprehensive 5-year strategic plan. Additionally, Chief Gesell served as the interim Atascadero Police Chief throughout the majority of 2011.
Chief Gesell was selected as San Luis Obispo's (CA) Chief of Police in January of 2012, also following a national recruitment. His appointment fulfilled an eight-year personal objective to return to his hometown as chief of police. During his tenure as SLO's police chief, he served as chairman of the San Luis Obispo County Criminal Justice Administrators Association and served on the board of directors for the California Police Chiefs Association representing San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. Chief Gesell quickly established a regional reputation for being passionate about public safety and addressing quality of life issues through successful collaboration with community stakeholders.
Chief Gesell holds an undergraduate degree in Justice Studies with a minor in psychology from Arizona State University as well as a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. He is also a graduate of Northwestern University's School of Police Staff and Command in addition to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Drug Unit Commanders Academy.
Teaching has been a passion throughout his career. He has taught numerous courses at Arizona's largest police academy, served as an adjunct community college instructor, and most recently served as an adjunct instructor for Northwestern University teaching interpersonal and organizational communication to police managers around the country.
Mr. Gesell was appointed as Cottonwood's chief of police in January 2016 and is honored to return to the great State of Arizona and serve such a wonderful and involved community. He and his wife Nesa have three children; Lauren, and twins Lindsey and Nathan.