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Tampa’s police chief resigns after flashing badge during golf cart stop

Former Chief Mary O’Connor is seen on body camera video flashing her badge to a deputy and asking to be let go.

The police chief of Tampa, Florida who flashed her badge to get out of a stop for traveling in a golf cart without a license plate has resigned, according to a statement published on Monday.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor requested former police chief Mary O’Connor's resignation after an investigation into the Nov. 12 incident in Oldsmar, northwest of Tampa, which was captured on a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy’s body camera.

O’Connor, who was appointed police chief in February, was a passenger in a golf cart driven by her husband that night, police said in a statement.

The body camera video shows O’Connor ask the deputy whether his body camera is on, and when he responds that it is, she says, “I’m the police chief in Tampa.”

The deputy asks how she’s doing.

“I’m doing good. I’m hoping that you’ll just let us go tonight,” O’Connor says as she opens her badge case and hands it to her husband, the video shows. The deputy then let them go.

In a statement, O'Connor said that it was the first time the couple had left the “golf-cart friendly community," where they own a property, adding that it was “poor judgment” to be driving it on a public roadway without appropriate tags.

O’Connor offered to pay any fine and apologized to the deputy. She was placed on administrative leave until she resigned Monday.

Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor in a golf cart driven by her husband in Oldsmar, northwest of Tampa, Fla., on Nov. 12, 2022.
Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor in a golf cart driven by her husband in Oldsmar, northwest of Tampa, Fla., on Nov. 12, 2022.Tampa Police Department via YouTube

“As the Chief of Police, you are not only to abide by and enforce those standards but to also lead by example," Castor, who served as Tampa's police chief from 2009 to 2015, said in a statement.

“It is unacceptable for any public employee, and especially the city’s top law enforcement leader, to ask for special treatment because of their position. Public trust in Tampa’s police department is paramount to our success as a city and community," Castor said.

Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw will take over as acting chief "while a comprehensive national search is conducted," according to the statement.