TAMPA — Retired Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor has been chosen to monitor a four-year program overseeing the Miami Police Department as part of a proposed settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The settlement was struck in 2011 following a federal investigation into 33 police shootings, according to a story in the Miami Herald.
Castor, who now operates Castor Consulting, a law enforcement consulting firm out of Tampa, said several other experts had “thrown their names in the hat,” and hers was pulled out. She said she knows the Miami police chief, and he recommended her.
“I guess everybody down there met with all the parties involved and they decided to choose me,” Castor said Thursday.
Under the settlement terms, officers must get firearms training that incorporates and emphasizes de-escalation tactics and techniques. The department also must prove it has appropriately deployed its specialized units and sufficiently monitored who becomes members on those teams.
The settlement, which includes oversight by Castor through 2020, also details standards for handling of police-involved shootings.
A series of reports on the department’s progress will be required every few months and the progress will be monitored by Castor, who retired May 8 after five years as Tampa’s police chief and more than 30 years with the department.
Most conditions in the settlement already have been put into place by the department, Castor said.
As part of her duties, she will review the police culture and policies in Miami involving use of force, particularly the use of deadly force.
Knowing how to de-escalate a situation is critical, she said, and that comes with the proper training and community relations.
“It’s pretty large in scope,” she said. “I want to help them through this process; to make sure they accomplish what they set out to do.”
First, she said, she has to familiarize herself with all the department’s policies and procedures and take a look at the training and figuring out how it can be improved.
“I will be working with the chief, and to a degree, the police union down there and the state attorney’s office,” she said, “to make whatever changes needed to be made.”
Miami isn’t the only police department re-inventing itself these days, she said.
“Nationwide,” she said, “there is a great deal of change,” including overhauls of policies regarding use of force and upgraded training on how to de-escalate tensions during violent calls for service.
“I’m looking to reduce the number of deadly force incidents that the department is involved in,” Castor said. “That’s one of my main focuses, to prepare officers as best as possible to avoid those situations.”
She said she hopes to keep her travel time between Tampa and Miami at a minimum. She will have to travel to meet the involved parties, including the department’s citizens-review committee as well as attend community meetings.
Payment for her consultation, she said, is a work in progress.
“We’re still negotiating that,” she said.