Both former Tampa Police officers accusing Jane Castor of manipulating crime statistics when she was Chief of Police have disciplinary records with the department.
One had an affair with a subordinate officer and then disputed paternity when she became pregnant. The other was disciplined for elbowing his wife in the face.
Castor’s opponent in the Tampa mayoral race, David Straz, has produced two videos featuring testimony from the two retired officers explaining why they believe the agency under-reported crime statistics while she was chief.
Retired Corporal Gary Pruitt was the first former officer to come forward with allegations that the Tampa Police Department, under Castor’s watch, was bundling crimes to make rates look lower than they were and that officers were told to downgrade crimes to lesser offenses.
Retired Corporal Steven Brock came forward Monday echoing those claims.
Both men offered only their individual personal testimonies as evidence.
Records show both men had disciplinary problems when they were on the force.
Pruitt was disciplined in 2011 for having an affair with another officer of a lower rank, which is a violation of department rules.
“Corporal was having a close, personal relationship with a female on the squad that he also supervised,” Pruitt’s Internal Affairs file reads. “This relationship had been going on for some time and was not disclosed to any other supervisors in the department nor was the relationship disclosed at all until it was blatantly obvious and after the corporal was questioned by his managers.”
That woman became pregnant and Pruitt had to be ordered by a court to submit to a paternity test. The Straz campaign disclosed the paternity issues writing in a press packet containing information about Pruitt’s allegations. In that disclosure, the campaign wrote that the issue caused financial hardship for Pruitt and was ultimately handled privately.
But court records paint a grim picture for Pruitt. In 2015, after the paternity question was settled, court records show Pruitt fell more than 30-days behind on support payments totaling $4,000 in owed payments. Court records also show Pruitt exchanged a series of harsh emails with Kimberly O’Connor, the subordinate officer with whom Pruitt had an affair.
He complained about support payments saying “it would be cheaper” if he had his wife care for the child “instead of paying you all this money.”
The rest of Pruitt’s employee file shows an otherwise model officer. None of his annual performance reviews show substantive complaints about his job performance. He received a needs improvement rating for attendance in 1991 for being an hour late for his shift twice, calling in sick less than one hour before a shift and having someone else call in sick for him 25 minutes after his shift began.
Other minor critiques included spelling and grammatical errors in his incident reports.
Brock was suspended for two days in 1997 after an altercation with his then-wife led to him elbowing her in the face “out of anger.”
The Internal Affairs report for that incident says the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office responded to a mid-morning call at the couple’s residence. The report notes Brock was retrieving items from the home because the couple was not living together. They first argued over the music playing in the home. Things escalated when Brock attempted to take several Disney videos from the home and his wife objected. The police report from the incident noted his wife had visible injuries to her face but did not require medical attention.
The deputy observed “swelling to her lip, redness to her upper arms and a scratch on her index finger.”
Brock also admitted to telling his wife, “I wish I could kill you.”
The Internal Affairs file also claims there were three domestic abuse complaints filed against Brock during that same year. In one incident, Brock allegedly struck his wife with a telephone and in another he “grabbed her throwing her against a car.” That incident occurred in Ybor City when Brock’s wife discovered him with another woman. Brock reportedly held his wife against his car until the woman left.
Brock’s wife, whose name was redacted in personnel documents, later petitioned to drop the charges against her husband. Brock admitted discussing the ramifications of the charges leveled against him with his wife, but told Internal Affairs investigators that he did not coerce her into making the decision to drop it.
The Straz campaign said they conducted a criminal background check on Brock and “nothing came up.”
“We have not seen his file,” the campaign wrote in a statement. “He did disclose he was accused of an incident during a messy divorce and said his discipline was a 2-day suspension, he wasn’t demoted and remained in the department for several years after.”
Castor’s campaign responded to the latest allegations again denying they had any 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.