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Another retired Tampa Police officer claims Jane Castor manipulated crime stats. But where’s the proof?

The retired officer offered anecdotal evidence from a case he says he worked.

A second retired Tampa Police officer has come forward with allegations that the department manipulated crime statistics to make crime look lower than it actually was.

The David Straz mayoral campaign launched another video Monday featuring retired officer Steve Brock who said agreed with Gary Pruitt’s claims about crime reporting methods when Straz’s opponent, Jane Castor was Chief of Police.

Like Pruitt, Brock did not offer any proof of his claims and instead offered anecdotal evidence from a case he says he worked.

“I was working a case where an individual had been stabbed numerous times in south Tampa,” Brock said in three and a half minute video. “When I looked at the video from that particular store I could see the parking lot I could see the suspect approaching the victim and the suspect began not only stabbing him numerous times he chased him around the parking lot and continued stabbing him.”

Brock said when he tried to report the incident as an attempted homicide he was told instead to report it as an aggravated battery “so it wouldn’t show up as a statistic as a homicide.”

Brock did not say who told him to do that or when the incident occurred.

Brock’s story also did not address one of the issues Pruitt brought up, which was that the agency was bundling crimes to make crime rates look lower than they actually were. But he said he knew that was happening too.

The Straz campaign claims Brock has no plans to run for office and that he did not personally know Pruitt. It also says Brock was not “persuaded or asked to come forward by Pruitt.” 

In the video, Brock said he saw the television ad featuring Pruitt and wanted to come forward after he saw Castor deny the allegations.

Pruitt’s allegations lacked evidence and the time frames he offered for his personal experiences pre-dated Castor’s tenure as police chief. Brock addressed that, too.

“It doesn’t matter what happened prior to her watch, whether it was a chief of police before or several generations prior to her, once you become a person of authority and you know something’s wrong, you stop it. You don’t continue that bad behavior. You certainly wouldn’t think it’s acceptable with a subordinate, so why would she continue to do that,” he said.

The  Castor campaign initially referred to its previous statement about the allegations.

“Facts are facts,” said Castor Campaign Manager Tim Wagner. “The bottom line is Tampa is far safer today than before the Tampa Police Department started implementing a crime reduction strategy implemented by Jane Castor.”

They later issued another statement reiterating the claims had no merit.

“Another false attack from David Straz, who has to know that crime dropped dramatically when Jane led the police department. In the 33 days since the general election began, Mr. Straz has not released a single plan outlining what he would do as mayor. Today we will deliver to Mr. Straz the federal and state reviews of Tampa’s crime statistics so he can do some homework before recklessly calling Tampa’s last three police chiefs liars. Before he destroys his reputation in the community, Mr. Straz should finally join Jane in focusing on issues rather than attacks,” said Castor Campaign Manager Tim Wagner.

In a press release with Brock’s video, the Straz campaign included a quote from the candidate’s video defending its claims after Castor said they weren’t true in her own television advertisement.

“Jane Castor chose to bundle crimes to make the numbers spin in her favor so she could look good.  That disingenuous style of management gives our community a false sense of security and puts officers’ safety in danger,” Straz said in that video. “That practice may have started before she was chief, but she was still second in command.”

Straz also launched a website called “The Truth About Jane” addressing its allegations. That website has not yet been updated with Brock’s video.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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