TAMPA — Cheers erupted Thursday after Jane Castor took the oath of office to become Tampa's next police chief, the first woman in the city's history to do so.
She hugged her mother, who held the Bible on which she rested her hand. She hugged Hillsborough Circuit Judge Barbara Fleischer, who administered the oath.
Then, the new police chief walked to the podium, said a few words of gratitude, talked about the future, and asked if anyone had any questions.
"What are some of the things you've talked about doing?" a reporter asked.
Castor looked at the man. "Those are all top secret," she said. Everyone laughed.
Castor, 49, known as much for her humor as her polish and work ethic, said she hit the ground running on Sept. 16, the day Mayor Pam Iorio announced the 25-year Tampa police veteran would be replacing retiring Chief Steve Hogue.
An assistant chief in the Hogue administration, Castor promised to maintain the direction he forged. She said she'll incorporate a little more technology and look to improve efficiency.
"We have some great ideas," she said. But, she added, it'll be a few months before she's ready to explain them in detail.
Hogue, 61, stood in the back of the room wearing a suit and tie, a proud smile on his face.
Castor's mother, Carolyn Castor-Newby, 75, said she couldn't be happier for the daughter who neighborhood kids used to seek out for football and basketball games due to her athletic ability.
"It's just one of the best days of my life," Castor-Newby said.
Earlier in the day, members of the City Council unanimously confirmed her as chief.
Though Castor has said she'd rather be known as a good chief than as the first female chief, council members couldn't help but boast of the significance.
"This is a historic moment for this community," said Chairman Tom Scott. "Diversity is so important."
"I'm personally really happy to have a woman police chief," said council member Mary Mulhern.
Council member Gwen Miller also said she was honored to approve the appointment. "I'm a woman and you're a woman," Miller said.
Council member Charlie Miranda, though, took a different view.
"I don't look at gender, race or color or creed," Miranda said. "I look at people who are set to do the best job. And you happen to be that person."
Castor will oversee the department's $133 million budget and 1,300 employees, 981 of them officers. Her starting salary will be $144,394.
She rose from street cop and in 2005 was named assistant chief.
Nationwide, about 300 of 18,000 police chiefs are women, according to women-in-policing expert Dorothy Schulz of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
Also sworn in Thursday were Castor's new assistant chiefs, Marc Hamlin and John Bennett.
Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3383.