Tampa police chief on leave after golf cart traffic stop

December 4, 2022 GMT
Mary O'Connor addresses reporters during a news conference at the Tampa Police Department headquarters, Feb. 8, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. O'Connor has resigned after using her position to escape a ticket during a traffic stop involving her golf cart driven by her husband. Mary O’Connor submitted her resignation Monday, Dec. 5, 2022 after an internal affairs review found she violated police department policy during the Nov. 12 stop by a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy. (Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times via AP)
Mary O'Connor addresses reporters during a news conference at the Tampa Police Department headquarters, Feb. 8, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. O'Connor has resigned after using her position to escape a ticket during a traffic stop involving her golf cart driven by her husband. Mary O’Connor submitted her resignation Monday, Dec. 5, 2022 after an internal affairs review found she violated police department policy during the Nov. 12 stop by a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy. (Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The police chief of Tampa has been placed on leave after a video emerged of her flashing her badge from the passenger seat of a golf cart to get out of a traffic ticket.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor placed Chief Mary O’Connor on administrative leave Friday pending an investigation of the Nov. 12 traffic stop in Oldsmar, a city northwest of Tampa.

The body camera video, posted online by the Tampa Police Department, shows O’Connor’s husband driving the cart and the chief in the passenger seat when a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy pulls them over for not having a tag.

“Is your camera on?” O’Connor said. “I’m the police chief in Tampa.”

“I’m hoping that you’ll just let us go tonight,” she says, showing the deputy her badge.

The deputy let them leave without a ticket, saying “it’s nice meeting you.”

In a statement, O’Connor said it was “poor judgement” for them to have taken the cart out on public roads without a tag. She said it was the first time they had driven it outside of a golf cart-friendly community where they own property.

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“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,” she said.

The mayor said an internal review is underway. Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw will serve as acting chief.

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