Out lesbian Jane Castor was elected as the new chief of the Tampa Police by Mayor Pam Iorio on Wednesday. Through 25 years, she graduated first in her class, was elected by her peers as president of their police academy class -- the first woman to achieve this title at the Tampa Police Department, and continued such achievements as she graduated from street cop to assistant chief in 2005. Now, she is the first woman in history to be chief.
Castor will oversee the department's $133 million budget and 1,300 employees, 981 of them sworn officers.
Assistant Chief Bob Guidara, retiring Friday, remembered reviewing Castor's performance as a training corporal and she was new. "I said, 'If you continue to perform and to grow in the manner in which you have since you've been here, I will one day work for you,' " Guidara said. "I said, 'You have the potential to be the chief of police.' "
Castor explained "The significance of being the first female is certainly not lost on me," then cited Iorio as another of the area's strong female leaders. "Frankly, I'd rather be known as a good chief than the first female."
TampaBay.com reports nationwide, about 300 out of 18,000 police chiefs are women, according to women-in-policing expert Dorothy Schulz of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. There are nine female police chiefs in Florida, including Pinellas Park Chief Dorene Thomas, according to the Florida Police Chiefs Association.
Castor's promotion is also significant since she is openly gay, she has served for more than six years as a liaison to Tampa's gay and lesbian community.
"We think it's incredible," Brian Winfield, spokesman for Equality Florida, said. "She's been instrumental in building a bridge of communication, and she's built a trust that is exceptional and unfortunately rare in the rest of the state."
Castor plans to continue with Hogue's goal of reducing crime, but also plans to focus more on streamlining costs and increasing the incorporation of technology in their policing strategy.