Jane Castor opposes arming teachers in schools

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“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

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]


  • Scott Thatcher

    April 19, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    Well, that’s good because arming teachers is not policing. It’s called self-defense.

    Why do people think that teachers will be running up and down the halls chasing an armed attacker? Armed teachers will be in lockdown shielding your kids from the attacker should the lockdown be breached. They are the LAST line of defense not the first.

  • Jan

    April 22, 2019 at 11:21 am

    The state needs to step up to the plate and pay the full amount for police protection at every public school in Florida instead of trying to save money by arming teachers. Put one sworn officer (or deputy) at every elementary and middle school and two at every high school. Have the legislature pay the full price for police protection instead of expecting local cities and counties to foot the bill.

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