Tampa police chief positioned on depart after bodycam video exhibits her flashing badge throughout site visitors cease
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor has been positioned on administrative depart after she and her husband have been pulled over by a Pinellas County deputy for driving a golf cart with no license plate tag final month.
Throughout the cease, the police chief additionally flashed her badge for the deputy, earlier than suggesting that he simply “allow us to go tonight,” as seen within the deputy’s body-camera footage.
Chief O’Connor might be on administrative depart till additional discover, pending the end result of an investigation into the incident, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor confirmed.
Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw will function performing chief within the meantime, Castor mentioned.
Chief O’Connor and her husband have been stopped by a Pinellas County deputy outdoors of an Oldsmar neighborhood on Nov. 12. O’Connor was captured on physique digital camera video asking if the deputy’s digital camera was on.
“It’s,” the obligation responded.
O’Connor then mentioned, “I’m the police chief in Tampa,” earlier than flashing her badge.
“I’m hoping you’ll simply allow us to go tonight,” she mentioned.
The deputy mentioned he thought he acknowledged O’Connor, who has been chief of the Division since February 2022.
In response to the incident, Chief Mary O’Connor launched an announcement acknowledging her conduct, which “could possibly be considered as inappropriate,” she wrote.
“I’ve expressed nice regret to the Mayor, and I apologize to the residents of Tampa who’ve an affordable expectation of higher judgment from their chief of police,” O’Connor mentioned, partly.
Tampa Metropolis Councilman Invoice Carlson mentioned Chief O’Connor’s actions are a violation of primary ethics coaching.
“[What we’re taught in] ethics coaching in authorities, Ethics 101, is don’t use your place to get any type of particular favors. You’re taught specifically to not point out your title or your place to attempt to persuade anybody of something and so it’s not a good suggestion to do this,” mentioned Carlson.
He mentioned he believes O’Connor ought to — and can — resign.
“I think about that the police chief will resign from this. I don’t know, however I think about. It’s embarrassing for her, it’s embarrassing for the mayor,” mentioned Carlson.
Yvette Lewis, the President of the NAACP of Hillsborough County, was against O’Connor’s hiring as police chief and mentioned this incident exhibits she was given particular therapy that others wouldn’t obtain.
“Had that been an African American individual, let’s say that, that individual would have been handcuffed, sat on the aspect of the street, frisked and held there and brought to jail,” mentioned Lewis, who additionally believes O’Connor shouldn’t return as police chief.
“The suspension was the fitting step and truthfully, I don’t assume she needs to be allowed to return again to carry that place,” mentioned Lewis.
Late Friday, the Tampa Police division issued an announcement on the scenario, saying: “In gentle of Mayor Castor’s resolution to put Chief Mary O’Connor on depart because the Skilled Requirements Bureau completes its evaluate of an off-duty site visitors cease, the division will proceed working with Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw serving as Appearing Chief of Police. We have now full confidence that every one members of the Tampa Police Division will proceed with their duties to serve the residents of Tampa with the very best stage of professionalism. The findings of the interior evaluate might be made accessible upon completion.”