“I’m hoping you’ll just let us go”: Tampa Police Chief pulled over, flashes badge, asks if camera on

Tampa, Florida — On Novomber 12, 2022, Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor and her spouse were stopped by a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office deputy while riding in a golf cart without a license plate outside of a residential area in Oldsmar. In the video, the deputy can be heard explaining to the couple that they were pulled over for driving an unlicensed vehicle without the tag on it on the roadway. During the stop, O’Connor asked the deputy, who was not identified, if his body-worn camera was recording. The deputy responded. “it is.” O’Connor then stated, “I’m the police chief in Tampa,” while flashing her law enforcement badge. “I’m hoping you’ll just let us go tonight,” she added.

The deputy said he thought he recognized O’Connor, who has been chief of the Department since February 2022. “If you ever need anything, call me,” O’Connor said on video, handing the deputy her card. “Seriously.”

The couple were let go. O’Connor apologized for her actions and, as recently in her latest statement, said she recognizes her mistakes and has learned from them.

Statement from Chief Mary O’Connor:
“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.”

Statement from Mayor Jane Castor:
“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.

The Tampa Police Department says 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.

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