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Bodycam video shows Tampa Police Chief Mary O'Connor flashing her badge during a traffic stop

She faced disciplinary action after showing a Pinellas County deputy her badge when she and her husband were pulled over for driving a golf cart without a license plate.

Tampa Police Chief Mary O'Connor has been placed on administrative leave after she flashed her badge to get out of a ticket during a traffic stop in Pinellas County.

The Nov. 12 incident was recorded on the body camera of the Pinellas deputy who pulled over O'Connor and her husband, who was driving a golf cart without a license plate.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, who selected O'Connor for the post in February, called the chief's actions "unacceptable" and said an internal review is underway.

On Friday, Castor announced O'Connor was placed on administrative leave and that Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw would serve as acting chief.

In a statement, O'Connor expressed "great remorse" and that she should not be above the law.

The bodycam video shows O'Connor and her husband after they were stopped near their residence in Oldsmar's East Lake Woodlands community.

In the video, O'Connor is in the passenger seat, smiling after the deputy approached them.

"Is your camera on? I'm the police chief in Tampa," O'Connor asks.

After exchanging pleasantries, O'Connor tells the deputy, "I'm hoping you'll just let us go tonight."

O'Conner's husband, Keith, was not cited for driving the golf cart without a tag.

As the deputy was about to leave, O'Connor tells him, "If you need anything, call me. Serious, thank you for your service."

O'Conner, 51, was sworn in as Tampa's 43rd police chief in March after serving 22 years on the force and retiring in 2016. Her husband is also a retired Tampa police officer.

Statement from Tampa Police 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."

"Chief 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."

Updated: December 2, 2022 at 1:22 PM EST
This story has been updated with Tampa Police Chief Mary O'Connor placed on administrative leave.
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