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Jane Castor opposes arming teachers in schools

“You have to leave policing to police officers.”

Jane Castor would not support arming teachers in schools if elected the next Mayor of Tampa, she said in an interview on WFLA’s PM Tampa Bay with Ryan Gorman.

The former Tampa Police Chief responded to questions about whether or not allowing certain teachers to carry guns on campus, which the Florida Legislature is considering, would help deter potential shootings at schools.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “You have to leave policing to police officers.”

Castor lamented how dangerous it could be to have teachers armed. Even trained officers in a high-intensity situation can miss targets. She also pointed out that it is difficult for law enforcement personnel moving quickly to save lives to determine whether someone with a gun is the good guy or bad guy, putting armed teachers potentially in harm’s way.

“We ask too much of our teachers right now – you can’t ask them to teach our children and be the security in the school,” Castor said.

Castor also briefly addressed the recent spate of negative attacks hurled her way by her opponent, philanthropist David Straz.

“What really frustrates me though are the false criticisms of our crime reduction,” Castor said.

She said those officers have worked too hard on reducing crime to have their efforts diminished by misleading claims that their results were not accurate.

Straz has stuck by claims the Tampa Police Department, particularly under her watch as Chief, artificially deflated crime stats by bundling crimes to make rates look lower than they really were.

The department’s tactics were upheld in a 2007 state audit that found crime data were “significantly accurate.”


Castor also addressed transportation in the 15-minute interview. She stressed the importance of “pre-planning” new revenue that will result from the voter-approved transportation tax.

“I would like to focus more on relieving congestion through alternate forms of transportation than trying to build new bridges or increase the width of interstates and make them super highways,” Castor said.

She also said the city needs to change its current culture that discourages residents from using public transportation.

“Up north the bus system is looked at as a viable form of transportation. In the south, it’s what poor people take,” she said.

Castor cited her transportation plan, which includes activating CSX rail lines through Tampa including in South Tampa, East Tampa, Ybor City and north to the University area. She also supports expanding the Tampa Streetcar into Seminole Heights and establishing an east-west connection between downtown Tampa on either a streetcar or rapid bus route.

Castor also said she remains optimistic Tampa could still be the right place for the Tampa Bay Rays to play ball. She does not support using taxpayer funds to build a new stadium for the team, but said as “an eternal optimist” she still thinks there are creative private funding opportunities available to keep the team in the region.

“The Tampa Bay Area is too big to lose a major sporting franchise,” Castor said.


The entire interview is available on the PM Tampa Bay webpage. Gorman invited Straz on his show, but the campaign did not respond. 

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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