The police chief of Tampa, Florida, has resigned following an incident last month in which she flashed her badge to get favorable treatment during a traffic stop while riding in a golf cart, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced 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,” Castor said in a statement.
Chief Mary O’Connor stepped down upon the mayor’s request following an internal review, according to Castor.
The incident took place on the evening of Nov. 12, when O’Connor and her spouse were riding in a golf cart on streets of Oldsmar, Florida, near Tampa. A Pinellas County Sheriff deputy pulled the couple over because the golf cart did not have a license plate. The deputy’s body camera captured footage of the interaction, which was posted by the Tampa Police Department.
O’Connor, sitting in the passenger seat, asks the deputy “Are you recording,” and then tells him “I’m the police chief in Tampa … I’m hoping that you’ll just let us go tonight,” as she shows him her badge.
“You looked familiar,” the deputy responds, before letting the couple go.
O’Connor apologized Thursday.
“In hindsight, I realize how my handling of this matter could be viewed as inappropriate, but that was certainly not my intent,” O’Connor said in a statement. “I knew my conversation was on video, and my motive was not to put the deputy in an uncomfortable position.”
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O’Connor added that she expressed “great remorse” to the mayor, and that reached out to the sheriff’s office to offer to pay any potential citation.
The next day, Castor announced that O’Connor had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, before announcing the chief’s resignation Monday.
“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,” Castor said in a statement. “But these accomplishments pale in comparison to the priority I place on integrity.”
Castor, who appointed O’Connor chief in February, said the city would begin a nationwide search for her successor, with an assistant chief filling in the role in the interim. The process is expected to take several months, Castor said.
The deputy who stopped O’Connor did not face a review or any disciplinary action, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office told USA TODAY.
Story Credit: usatoday.com