Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor resigns after showing her badge to avoid ticket during golf cart traffic stop

The police chief in Tampa, Florida, resigned Monday after using his position to avoid a ticket during a traffic stop involving a golf cart driven by her husband.

Mary O’Connor submitted her resignation after an Internal Affairs review found she violated police department policy during a November 12 stop by a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy.

During that stop – which was recorded on video by the deputy’s body camera – O’Connor identified himself as the Tampa chief, showed his badge and said, “I hope you’ll let us go tonight.”

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The deputy only issued a verbal warning rather than a citation. The golf cart did not have a license tag when such vehicles are driven on public roads. O’Connor’s husband, Keith, said they had just come from a restaurant and don’t normally drive on the roads.

The internal review found O’Connor, who was less than a year on the jobBreached the standards of conduct and rules on “abuse of position or identity”.

“The Tampa Police Department has a code of conduct that includes high standards of ethical and professional behavior that apply to every member of our police force,” said Mayor Jane Castor – herself a former Tampa police chief – in requesting her resignation. said in a statement. “As a police chief, you not only have to follow and enforce those standards, but also lead by example. Clearly that didn’t happen in this case.”

Castor appointed Lee Bercaw, who had been assistant chief, as acting chief while a nationwide search began.

Castor said in the statement, “In Lee Bercow, we have a thoughtful and highly regarded leader in progressive policing. I am grateful he can continue to work with our community to keep our city safe.” “

Last week, O’Connor issued a statement apologizing for his conduct.

He added, “Amazingly, I realize how my handling of the matter could be seen as inappropriate, but that was certainly not my intention.”

In his resignation letter, O’Connor cited his achievements as police chief but took responsibility for his actions.

“I would never want my personal fault to come in the way of the progress I have made in improving relations between the police department and the community,” she wrote, “so I am resigning.”

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