Former Tampa police chief Jane Castor says David Straz’s attacks on her record at the Tampa Police Department are “completely inflammatory and not true.”
David Straz has put out a series of ads and held several press conferences alleging that Castor has lied and manipulated crime statistics during her time as a high ranking Tampa police official, including six years as chief of police.
“We’re the ones that gave them the audit that they pulled two sentences out of,” Castor said. And if you read that audit, it says that they found nothing wrong with the way that we were reporting crime accurately.”
Castor said she personally made the change in 2006 to a different method of recording crime statistics because it was more in line with the FBI’s guidance, but assured there were checks and balances within the system there was no abuse.
She flat-out rejected former TPD officer Steve Brock’s allegation that he was told to change the way an attempted homicide was recorded to make the stats look better.
Castor said the allegations from Straz about her crime reporting while in the Tampa Police Department are a distraction from the real issues in the campaign.
“My opponent has yet to share his vision or discuss any issues that are important to our community,” Castor said.
Straz has alleged that the change in crime reporting data obscured the real impact of crime on the city of Tampa. Castor said that’s precisely why she changed the reporting method.
“The citizens of Tampa deserve the right to know how safe their city is,” Castor said, which is why she made the change in 2006 to “report crime more accurately.”
Straz has also run campaign ads alleging that Castor is ‘double dipping’ because she collects a pension from her 31 years at the Tampa Police Department and would earn a salary if she was elected mayor.
Castor says that’s not a fair criticism.
Most businesses in the private sector no longer offer a pension.
Some cities and states across the country are facing budget challenges with huge pension liabilities for government workers.
C astor said it’s possible that system should be changed, but that money isn’t the reason law enforcement and first responders get into public service.
Some countries have publicly funded elections to protect democracy from the influence of too much money in politics.
Castor said she likes that idea.
“It’s my first time in a campaign, and it really is obscene,” said Castor. “My opponent is going to spend close to $5 million in this campaign. And also, it prohibits the average person from running for office.”
The runoff campaign has been mostly about personal attacks, a far cry from the general election which was filled with 30+ forums where voters got a chance to know the candidates.
“I’ve got a lot of great ideas,” Castor said, “and I can’t wait to get started.”
Castor nearly won the general election outright, coming just over two percent shy of the 50% majority needed to avoid the runoff.
Early Voting for Tampa residents starts Sunday, April 14 and runs through Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Election Day is Tuesday, April 23.
Watch Politics On Your Side with host Evan Donovan every Sunday morning at 9:30 right before Meet the Press on WFLA News Channel 8, Tampa Bay’s local NBC station.