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Tampa police chief rejiggers trigger finger after trauma

Tampa police Chief Jane Castor retrains with a middle finger after her index finger tip was lopped off, forcing her out of uniform.
Tampa police Chief Jane Castor retrains with a middle finger after her index finger tip was lopped off, forcing her out of uniform.
Published Jul. 10, 2013

TAMPA — Jane Castor was trying to start her boat last month when the flywheel sliced off the tip of her trigger finger. She lost the top, down to the base of her nail.

That would be a problem for anyone, but particularly for a police chief.

She would not be able to use the index finger on her right hand for several months, she learned at the hospital, hours after her June 9 injury on her 21-foot open fisherman boat.

If she couldn't fire her gun, she wouldn't be able to wear her uniform or carry her .40-caliber Smith & Wesson.

She showed up to Tampa police headquarters the next day in plainclothes. That Tuesday, she started training herself to shoot using her middle finger, a feat that sounds easy but isn't.

Police officers need to draw their sidearms almost instinctively. She had to build new muscle memories. Over and over, she pulled her gun and rested her middle finger on the trigger.

She practiced 100 times a day.

Ten days later, she drove to the shooting range and took the qualifying test. Thirty-eight points out of 40 — "master" level.

She's back in uniform. A subtle beige bandage covers the now-shortened finger. She's embarrassed that reporters consider this news.

Really, she's just happy that she will still be able to play the piano. That's something the chief has always wanted to learn.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.