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Third Jane Castor accuser: She’s ‘vindictive’ and ‘dishonest’

A retired Captain recounted his experience working under Castor.

A third retired Tampa Police Officer has come forward with accusations that Tampa Mayoral candidate Jane Castor manipulated crime statistics to make crime rates look lower than they actually were.

A state audit of the agency in 2007 supported the agency’s reporting methods.

The latest officer to come forward has a clean record during his 30-year tenure on the force, according to his Internal Affairs file.

It shows just two letters of counseling and one oral admonishment for minor policy offenses. Castor’s first two accusers had major disciplinary action in their personnel files related to a paternity scandal and domestic abuse.

Retired Captain Juaquin “Jack” Diaz spoke in a more than six-minute video recounting his experience working under Castor. He described her as a “terrible chief” who is “vindictive” and “not an honest person.”

During his tenure on the force, Diaz worked as a SWAT officer as well as on the city’s street crimes unit before making Captain. He retired in 2017.

Diaz repeated claims that the agency began using a crime reporting method that arbitrarily lowered crime on paper by bundling multiple crimes as a single offense.

The David Straz campaign released the video testimony Friday afternoon, less than 24-hours after it claimed to have a state report proving its allegation of crime stat manipulation.

That report acknowledged the agency changed its method of reporting crime to include bundled offenses, but went on to explain the department was using allowable methods under the FBI’s Uniformed Crime Report process and found that crime reports were “significantly correct.”

The report also found no evidence of misreporting. It also listed several changes in police policy that could have led to a reduction in crime.

While that report doesn’t validate Straz’s allegations, the latest video raises additional questions about Castor’s leadership.

There’s a management style where you mange by fear and intimidation and when you’re the chief and you’re banging on the table and saying if you don’t lower my crime I’m going to fire you and you’re telling that to at-will employees like a major, they’re going to do whatever they need to do to make their crime numbers look good,” Diaz said.

I also know that it disgusted the troops. If they speak out they fear retaliation because Jane Castor is a vindictive person.”

Diaz claims he is not a disgruntled employee and the Straz campaign said he was not paid for his testimony.

Castor has weathered an onslaught of negative attacks from the Straz campaign and, recently, former subordinates who have launched a sustained campaign criticizing her record as a law enforcement officer and leader.

Castor retired from the Tampa Police Officer after 31-years of service including six as its top cop. She was the city’s first female chief and received high praise from community leaders throughout the region when she retired for lowering crime and for her handling of a national manhunt for the man who killed two Tampa Police officers.

The Police Benevolent Association, which includes active officers, and the local police chiefs association endorsed Castor.

The Castor campaign continues to push back against claims. In a debate Thursday night, Castor said Straz had “no idea what he’s talking about.” The campaign has called on Straz to focus instead on policy issues that will move the city forward.

Straz, meanwhile, has defended himself against criticism for negative campaigning arguing it’s not negative if it’s true.

The Castor campaign declined to comment noting there was nothing left to say on allegations that have already proven baseless.

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 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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