Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor resigns after blowback from an encounter with Pinellas Sheriff’s deputy

Tampa Police Chief pulled over

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Tampa’s Police Chief has resigned. Chief Mary O’Connor submitted her resignation Monday in a letter to the Mayor. Mayor Jane Castor tweeted that she has “requested and received the resignation” and that “Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw will serve as acting chief while a comprehensive national search is conducted.”

O’Connor’s resignation comes after body cam footage became public last Thursday of an interaction between O’Connor and a Pinellas Sheriff’s deputy in November (see below for more).

Tampa Police made the body cam footage public after a request for it from Creative Loafing.

WMNF’s story from Thursday is below:

Tampa Police released body-camera footage taken by a Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputy from last month when Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor and her spouse were stopped by the deputy “while riding in a golf cart without a license plate outside of a residential area in Oldsmar.”

Tampa police chief tells the deputy “I’m hoping you’ll just let us go tonight”

In the video (see below) O’Connor asks the deputy, “Is your camera on?”

The deputy responds, “It is.”

“I’m the police chief in Tampa. … I’m hoping you’ll just let us go tonight.”

The deputy says she looks familiar and then says, “Alright folks, have a good night.”

After a few seconds, O’Connor hands “Deputy Jacoby” her business card and says, “If you ever need anything, call me. Serious.”

Tampa mayor says police chief will “face appropriate discipline”

In an email statement, Mayor Jane Castor said, “We hold everyone accountable, no matter their position, and this behavior was unacceptable. Chief O’Connor will go through the due process and face appropriate discipline.”

An email Thursday from Tampa Police says “Chief O’Connor has voluntarily reached out to the Tampa Police Professional Standards Bureau asking to receive the same discipline that any officer would receive for similar conduct. An internal review of the incident is underway.”

Police chief says her behavior “could be viewed as inappropriate”

In the email, Police Chief O’Connor said,

“It was poor judgment on our part to be driving a golf cart on a public roadway without the appropriate tags. This was the first time we had exited the golf-cart friendly community in which we own property with this vehicle, prompting the need for a license plate.

In hindsight, I realize how my handling of this matter could be viewed as inappropriate, but that was certainly not my intent. I knew my conversation was on video, and my motive was not to put the deputy in an uncomfortable position. I have personally called the Pinellas County Sheriff offering to pay for any potential citation.

I have expressed great remorse to the Mayor, and I apologize to the residents of Tampa who have a reasonable expectation of better judgment from their chief of police.

As someone who has dealt with, taken ownership of and grown from my past mistakes, I know that no one is above the law, including me.”

Watch the video of Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor getting pulled over by a Pinellas deputy: