Police chief resigns after golf cart traffic stop

TAMPA, Fla. — The chief of the Tampa Police Department has resigned from her position, nearly one month after a video showed her flashing her badge in an attempt to get out of a traffic stop.

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Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced Monday that she had requested and received the resignation of Police Chief Mary O’Connor in a news release. The resignation came days after the chief had been placed on leave and after an internal affairs investigation into the incident had concluded.

A video showing the traffic stop had been posted online by the Tampa Police Department, and appears to show O’Connor’s husband driving a golf cart with the chief in the passenger seat when the couple was pulled over by a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy for not having a license plate, The Associated Press reported.

“Is your camera on? I’m the police chief in Tampa. I’m hoping that you’ll just let us go tonight,” O’Connor says in the video while showing the deputy her badge.

The couple was allowed to leave after the incident, which happened Nov. 12, CNN reported.

In a statement Dec. 1, O’Connor said, “It was poor judgement on our part to be driving a golf cart on a public roadway without the appropriate tags. … 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.”

The Tampa Police Department’s internal affairs investigation found that the chief violated the department’s policy by using her official position and badge for obtaining privileges.

Final Disposition Letter by National Content Desk on Scribd

In her letter of resignation, 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.”

O'Connor Resignation Letter by National Content Desk on Scribd

Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw has been serving as acting chief while a national search for a replacement is underway, Castor said.

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