Tampa, Fla. Gets Lesbian Police Chief

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Sep 18, 2009

The mayor of Tampa, Florida, has named the successor to the outgoing police chief: for the first time, Tampa will have a woman at the head of the city's police. What's more, she's openly lesbian.

A Sept. 16 article at The Daily Loaf reported that Tampa mayor Pam Iorio has named 49-year-old Jane Castor as the replacement for outgoing Police Chief Steve Hogue, who is set to retire at the end of the month.

During the course of her career, Castor had served as Tampa's police liaison to the GLBT community.

The Daily Loaf said that while Castor did not play up the fact that she is a lesbian, she did not seek to hid it, either, In fact, Castor has served openly for a quarter-century and says that she has not faced harassment or discrimination from fellow officers during her long career.

The article quoted Castor as saying, "When I came on the department 25 years ago, the trails had already been blazed.

"I've never had any issues within this department or within this city."

Though Castor did not make a point of being a an open lesbian in an officer's uniform who is the first in the state's history to assume such a position of leadership in the police, GLBT rights group Equality Florida hailed her accomplishment.

Said the group's executive director, Nadine Smith, "There was a time when sexism and homophobia would have prevented the most qualified candidate from getting selected.

"And so it is a testament to her impressive résumé and the progress we've made as a society that she's been named as the new police chief."

But Smith was critical of the fact that most mainstream media glossed over Castor being openly lesbian, while at the same time focusing on her role as Tampa's first female chief of police.

Said Smith, "If you deem it important to say she's the first woman police chief, then it's equally significant to say she's the first openly lesbian chief."

Added Smith, "She's out and she always has been."

One mainstream news source not to neglect mention of Castor's sexuality was Florida newspaper the St. Petersburg Times, which ran a story on Castor on Sept. 17.

The newspaper noted that Castor was a leader from early in her career, and quoted Mayor Iorio's remarks when the mayor announced her pick, saying, "I don't see the need for a nationwide search [to replace Hogue] when we've got the best police department in the nation right here."

Added the mayor, "She clearly is a born leader in her demeanor.

"I have total confidence in Jane."

The article noted that during Hogue's tenure, crime has plummeted by nearly half.

But Hogue looked forward to even greater success for Castor.

"Jane Castor, at the end of her tenure, is going to be recognized as the best chief this city has ever had," the article quoted Hogue as saying.

The article noted that Castor will be in charge of personnel numbering 1,300, along with a budget of $133 million.

Even with such a major budget, part of the task ahead of Castor is to cut spending, the article noted.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


  • , 2009-10-03 00:10:59

    Yay for Tampa!!! I live in Tampa.. Kilian Melloy - you really need to do more than spell check your articles. There are at least 3 typos in your work which makes you look less professional than I’m sure that you are.

  • , 2009-10-06 14:55:59

    Congrats to Chief Castor. I live in St. Pete and really her sexual orientation is not as important as her qualifications. Nobody says that a "straight" person was made chief... why make a big deal?? She has her life which is not a reflection of her performance and yes... I am a lesbian as well.

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