Tampa Police Chief Resigns After Showing Badge At Traffic Stop

A police chief in Florida has resigned after showing her badge and requesting to be let go from a traffic stop, according to Tampa authorities. 

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor “has requested and received the resignation of Police Chief Mary O’Connor, following the completion of an Internal Affairs investigation into a recent traffic stop involving O’Connor,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office issued on Monday. 

“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.

O’Connor was the passenger in a golf cart driven by her husband, a former Tampa police officer who is retired. The golf cart had no license plate displayed, and a Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputy pulled the couple over. In body cam footage, O’Connor showed Deputy Larry Jacoby her badge, and he said she looked familiar.

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“I’m hoping that you’ll just let us go tonight,” she said before apologizing and giving the deputy her card.

“If you ever need anything, call me. Serious,” O’Connor said.

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In 1995, O’Connor was fired from the police department after she was arrested in a separate traffic stop for battery on a law enforcement officer. The following year, however, she was put back on the force and “reinstated as a police officer,” serving for a year as a “probationary employee.” Mayor Castor alluded to the previous incident in her statement about the resignation. 

“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,” Castor noted. 

In her resignation letter, O’Connor said, “I would never want my personal mistake to stand in the way of the progress I have made in mending relationships between the police department and the community, so for that reason, I am resigning.”

After the most recent incident, Castor noted on Thursday that O’Connor had used “poor judgment” and could be disciplined. In a statement, O’Connor reportedly said she “expressed great remorse” and noted that “no one is above the law.” She said she “personally called the Pinellas County Sheriff offering to pay for any potential citation.”

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