A police chief from Tampa, Florida, was placed on administrative leave after being caught on body camera footage flashing her law enforcement badge during a traffic stop and saying she hoped the deputy would “let us go.”
On November 12, a Pinellas County deputy pulled over Police Chief Mary O’Connor and her husband for driving a golf cart without a license plate tag.
In the video, the deputy informs the couple that they were stopped because they were operating an unregistered vehicle without a tag.
O’Connor asked the deputy if his body-worn camera was recording during the stop. “Yes, it is,” the deputy responded.
O’Connor then flashes her badge and says, “I’m the police chief in Tampa,” adding that “I’m hoping you’ll just let us go tonight.”
“If you ever need anything, call me,” O’Connor said, handing the deputy her card. The deputy had to let the couple go.
Statement from Mary O’Connor
After the video was made public, O’Connor issued a statement in which she claimed that her actions were the result of “poor judgment” on her part for using an unlicensed vehicle on a public road. She acknowledged that the way she handled it might have been improper.
“We made a mistake by driving a golf cart on a public road without the necessary tags. Since this was the first time we had driven out of the golf-cart-friendly neighborhood where we own property, a license plate was required,” said O’Connor.
“I now understand how my handling of this situation could have been seen as wrong, but that was certainly not my intention. I was aware that my talk was being recorded, and I wasn’t trying to make the deputy uncomfortable. Also, I personally made a call to the Pinellas County Sheriff and offered to cover any potential citation.”
“Also, I apologize to the people of Tampa who have the right to expect better judgment from their police chief and I have expressed my deep regret to the mayor. Since I’ve dealt with, accepted responsibility for, and learned from my past mistakes, I am aware that neither I nor anybody else is above the law,” O’Connor added.
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Mayor Jane Castor issued a statement regarding the incident on Friday, stating that Officer O’Connor has been placed on administrative leave pending the conclusion of an investigation into the traffic stop.