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Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor resigns after flashing her badge to escape ticket

The police chief in Tampa, Florida resigned Monday after using her position to escape a ticket during a traffic stop on Nov. 12 by a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy, involving a golf cart driven by her husband.  Chief Mary O’Connor submitted her resignation after an internal affairs review found she violated police department policy. The internal review found O’Connor, who had been on the job less than a year, violated regulations on standards of conduct and “abuse of position or identification.”

The stop, which was recorded on video by the deputy’s body camera, shows O’Connor identifying herself as the Tampa chief, flashing her badge and saying “I’m hoping you will let us go tonight.” The deputy issued only a verbal warning instead of a citation. The golf cart did not have a license tag, a requirement for when such vehicles are driven on public streets. O’Connor’s husband, Keith, said they had just come from a restaurant and didn’t usually drive the cart on streets.

O’Connor had issued a statement apologizing for her conduct: “In hindsight, I realize how my handling of this matter could be viewed as inappropriate, but that was certainly not my intent,” she said. In her resignation letter, O’Connor took responsibility for her actions: “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.”

Mayor Jane Castor, a former Tampa police chief herself, said in a statement requesting the resignation: “The Tampa Police Department has a code of conduct that includes high standards for ethical and professional behavior that apply to every member of our police force. As the Chief of Police, you are not only to abide by and enforce those standards but to also lead by example. That clearly did not happen in this case.” Castor has appointed assistant chief Lee Bercaw as acting chief.

Editorial credit: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock.com

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