Tampa Police Chief Mary O'Connor resigns after golf cart top

Chief Mary O’Connor was placed on administrative leave last week after video of a golf cart traffic stop surfaced.

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor has resigned from her position as top cop of the department after an internal affairs investigation into a recent traffic stop in Pinellas County involving O’Connor and her husband, the city said in a release. 

According to the city, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor made the request for O’Connor’s resignation. 

Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw will serve as acting chief while a “comprehensive national search is conducted.” 

O’Connor and her spouse were pulled over last month while riding a golf cart without a license plate outside a residential area. The encounter was captured on body camera and released last week to the media. It shows O’Connor and her husband on the night of Nov. 12 being pulled over in the parking lot of a Truist bank in Oldsmar, the police department said in a previous news release. 

“Is your camera on?” O’Connor asked after the deputy explained why he was conducting the traffic stop.

She immediately let the deputy know she was the police chief in Tampa before showing the deputy her credentials. 

“I’m hoping that you’ll just let us go tonight,” she added. 

On Friday, O’Connor was placed on administrative leave and an internal affairs investigation was launched.

Castor, who picked O’Connor to serve as the city’s 43rd chief of police in March, called the behavior “unacceptable” and explained that the police chief “will go through the due process and face appropriate discipline” in an earlier statement. 

O’Connor also reportedly requested to receive the same discipline any police officer would in this situation.

In a previous statement, O’Connor alluded to taking ownership of “past mistakes.” One such instance she was referring to likely relates to her 1995 arrest, which drew controversy when she was appointed as chief. She apologized for her actions while Tampa city council members considered a vote to confirm her earlier this year. 

“The Tampa Police Department has a code of conduct that includes high standards for ethical and professional behavior that apply to every member of our police force. As the Chief of Police, you are not only to abide by and enforce those standards but to also lead by example. That clearly did not happen in this case.

“It is unacceptable for any public employee, and especially the city’s top law enforcement leader, to ask for special treatment because of their position. Public trust in Tampa’s police department is paramount to our success as a city and community,” Castor said in a statement.

“This is especially disappointing because I gave Mary O’Connor a second chance, as I believe in second chances for people. Which is one of the reasons that the disappointment today runs so deep. I had high hope for Chief O’Connor, as she was off to such a strong start by reducing violent gun crime, proactively engaging with our community and focusing on officer wellness. But these accomplishments pale in comparison to the priority I place on integrity.

“In Lee Bercaw, we have a thoughtful and highly regarded leader in progressive policing. I am grateful he can hit the ground running and continue working with our community to keep our city safe.”

The mayor’s office said there is no firm deadline for selecting the next chief but “fully expects that a national search and hiring process will take several months.” 

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