Tampa Police Department's streak of plummeting crime statistics continues

Castor gave credit in part to Mayor Pam Iorio, who tried to deflect any attention on her when speaking behind the lectern. She called the men and women who make up the police department "the cream of the crop." She said when she hired Stephen Hogue in '03, she discussed with him the fact that Tampa at that time was one of the worst in the nation for a city their size in the crime rate.  "I told him, 'Chief, we have got to reduce the crime rate.'  And he said 'it can be done. ' And he had a remarkable tenure in the success in doing that."

Iorio said when she's asked what she believes is the most significant accomplishment that's happened on her nearly 7 years in office, "I always point to the crime rate."

Chief Castor was asked about the budget issues with City Hall.  In December, the City Council voted down awarding officers so called "step" increases, stance that Mayor Iorio backed.  To show their displeasure, about 20 officers protested at a news conference held by Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena last month.  Saul-Sena was one of those Council members to oppose the officers request.  Officials with the Tampa Benevolent Association says they will hold similar protest rallies against all other Tampa lawmakers who voted against them.  Those protests have met with some backlash from the public.

Castor would only say acknowledge that there are budget "issues" and that that the "picture becomes grimmer each year."

Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said that the TPD achieved a 15.8% crime reduction in 2009, leading to a 56% reduction since 2003, the year Mayor Pam Iorio and former Police Chief Stephen Hogue took power in City Hall.

At a news conference at the department's downtown headquarters on Tuesday, a proud Castor claimed that Tampa was "bucking a trend" in regards to crime nationally being reported, saying, "I don't think there's any other city in the nation that has accomplished what we've accomplished."

The Department reported 2o murders in 2009, tying it with 2005 for the lowest number of homicides in the department in the past 25 years.  It reported  15,557 total crimes in 2009 (murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft).  That's over 19,000 less crimes reported going back to 2002.

Castor was asked about how the department categorizes their statistics.  She said going back to 2004, the TPD learned that they were under reporting crimes in some cases, and over reporting in others.  She said that the TPD stringently follows FBI Uniform Crime Reporting guidelines precisely, and those numbers get severely scrutinized before being passed up to the FDLE and ultimately the FBI.

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