Mary O’Connor, once fired from Tampa Police Department after an arrest, is now its Chief
Image via City of Tampa.

Mary O'Connor
The 22-year veteran returns to TPD after five years as a consultant and trainer. But her career almost never was.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor Monday appointed Mary O’Connor as the new Chief of Police.

O’Connor, a former Tampa Police Department Assistant Chief, will take over for Interim Chief Ruben “Butch” Delgado. Delgado, who was also up for the job, has been serving as Chief for about five months. He replaced former Chief Brian Dugan after his retirement in September.

O’Connor spent 22 years with TPD. She retired in 2016. At TPD, O’Connor worked closely with Castor — herself a former TPD chief — and Castor’s Chief of Staff John Bennett. Bennett was also an Assistant Chief with TPD. O’Connor was even up for the top-cop job when Castor retired, along with Dugan and former Chief Eric Ward. Ward got the job first, then Dugan, and now O’Connor. 

Over the last five years, O’Connor has worked as a consultant and trainer traveling to law enforcement agencies around the country. She’s also a senior faculty member at the FBI’s premier leadership officer development program. 

“What really put Mary at the top was the fact that she has had 22 years of experience at the Tampa Police Department,” Castor said. “She understands the organization. She understands the community. But then she has those five years of invaluable experience of going around outside of the department to see how other agencies are run — to learn other best practices and to also, frankly, see the things other agencies may be doing that we don’t want to mirror in our organization.”

O’Connor said connecting with the community and incorporating more social service workers to take the burden off officers will be a priority. She said she plans to work with local communities to not just respond to crime but address the root concern of criminal activity within communities.

“We can’t arrest our way out of the problem,” she said.

O’Connor also said she’d also focus on officer wellness and leadership development.

“We will focus on connecting with our community to build a team approach to combating violent crime while making sure our officers are healthy and safe,” she said.

O’Connor is now the head of an agency that once fired her after she found herself on the other side of a courtroom.

In 1995, O’Connor, then known as Mary Minter, was a 24-year-old officer in her first year on the job in Tampa after two years as a Madeira Beach cop. She was with fellow officer Keith O’Connor one night in May when he was pulled over for suspicion of drunken driving. As Hillsborough County deputies attempted to give O’Connor a sobriety test, she became disruptive. Deputies asked her to sit in the patrol car and she kicked the window and punched a deputy in the shoulder and chest.

Keith O’Connor was charged with driving under the influence. Mary O’Connor was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, obstruction and disorderly intoxication. She pleaded no contest and was ordered to write a letter of apology. Both officers were suspended, then fired, but allowed to return to the department in 1996. In 1997, they were married. Both rose to the ranks of Assistant Chief after their reinstatement.

Mary O’Connor said she “wholeheartedly” believes in second chances.

“But I also believe that discipline needs to be given in a fair and impartial manner,” she said. “Just like the chance that was given to me 28 years ago, to evaluate the aspects of my own case, I look forward to doing that with the men and women of this department.”

O’Connor’s official appointment to the role is subject to approval from the City Council, which Castor expects to happen soon.

“We don’t expect any issues there,” Castor said. “Mary could start as quickly as next week.”

O’Connor is the second woman after Castor to be named Chief in Tampa.

Daniel Figueroa IV

Bronx, NY —> St. Pete, Fla. Just your friendly, neighborhood journo junkie with a penchant for motorcycles and Star Wars. Daniel has spent the last decade covering Tampa Bay and Florida for the Ledger of Lakeland, Tampa Bay Times, and WMNF. You can reach Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected]


  • Patricia Joppien

    February 8, 2022 at 3:44 pm

    40 yrs ago – but hey – we know how one sided Florida politics is –

  • Anna

    February 8, 2022 at 6:20 pm

    How can this be a person with a record could be hired after being fired from Police Dept. This is not right City Council DO YOUR JOB

    • Steve

      February 9, 2022 at 12:47 pm

      I agree. How in heck can this person be arrested for assaulting a law enforcement officer; being fired; and she was re-hired? Only in Florida. Her certification should have been pulled after her plea. I feel sorry for the TPD officers who are stuck working for this criminal!

      • facepalm

        February 9, 2022 at 2:08 pm

        If you actually read the article you’d see that she completely turned her situation around after being given a second chance, but from your knee jerk uneducated reaction I can see that’s way more than we should expect from you.

        • Todd Patrick

          February 10, 2022 at 9:07 am

          Or perhaps we just have higher standards for someone being hired for such an important position in our community. I am stunned the Mayor made this choice and hope the City Council shows better judgement

  • Johnny’s Got a Gun

    February 9, 2022 at 2:27 pm

    Typical in-house round about. After spending 28 years of my life as a law enforcement officer in three separate departments, I have seen it all. Same things, different faces. From in-house theft, murder and mayhem to protection of their own, should anyone be surprised over this? It seems that the standards amongst hirers and the ones hired have slipped over the years but one should not be surprised at all. We will now see how things turn out and what type of leadership can be squeezed out of this political puppet. The good ole days of “Book’em Daniel”, are way gone for sure. Like any type of business, there are too many options to appease the certain sect whom complains. We all know that you don’t poop where you sleep, and you don’t sleep with those you work with or for, or do you, in order to get ahead. Time goes forward, but some things really, really never change.

  • politics

    February 13, 2022 at 11:38 pm

    Great for her she got into a squall they wrote her charges they made it look worse than it bite they excused it and she is now off and running

  • Jim Phillips

    February 15, 2022 at 4:49 pm

    It’s a disgrace to any police department to be under the rule of a past officer who had no respect for LE. She says”’everyone deserves another chance”. What does that say? Felons released, bail reform?
    Council should do their job. More officers will leave this department . Too many understaffed that will welcome a lateral transfer.

  • Del Ulreich

    February 16, 2022 at 9:40 am

    Like it or not, this is very bad for the good cops who are looking forward to being promoted.
    This hurts the department.

Comments are closed.


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