Tampa police chief suspended after flashing badge during traffic stop

Tampa police chief suspended after flashing badge during traffic stop

A Florida police chief has been placed on administrative leave following an incident in which she displayed her badge during a traffic check.

Pinellas County stopped Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor and her husband for driving a golf cart without a license plate in Oldsmar, Florida, approximately 20 miles west of Tampa.

O’Connor produces her badge after establishing that the officer’s body-worn camera was filming.

O’Connor stated, with a sneer, “I am the police chief of Tampa.” “I’m hoping you’ll let us leave tonight.”

The officer replied, “You seem familiar,” before allowing the pair to drive away.

“Call me if you ever need anything,” O’Connor remarked as she handed the cop her business card. “Serious. Thank you.”

In a statement published on Friday, the mayor of Tampa, Jane Castor, said that O’Connor has been placed on administrative leave awaiting the conclusion of an inquiry into the traffic stop.

O’Connor has also expressed regret for her behavior, describing the event as the consequence of “poor judgment,” and she has promised to pay any prospective citations.

The police was informed by O’Connor’s spouse (right) that they were driving the cart on a public route to acquire meals.

Since then, O’Connor has expressed regret about her decision to utilize her badge during a traffic check.

O’Connor stated, “It was a lack of judgment on our part to operate a golf cart on a public road without the proper tags.”

This was the first time we had departed our golf-cart-friendly community with this vehicle, necessitating the need for a license plate. In hindsight, I see how my handling of this situation may be construed as wrong, but that was not my intention.”

O’Connor was appointed police chief of Tampa in February and has 22 years of experience in law enforcement.

O’Connor has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation of the event.
Tampa Police Department

“I knew my talk was being recorded, and I did not want to put the deputy in an awkward situation,” O’Connor said. “I phoned the Pinellas County Sheriff and offered to pay for any prospective citations.”

“I have conveyed my regret to the mayor, and I apologize to the citizens of Tampa who have a right to demand better judgment from their police chief. As someone who has dealt with, accepted responsibility for, and evolved from previous mistakes, I am aware that no one is above the law.

During the inquiry, Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw has stepped in as interim chief in Tampa.

 

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