Tampa Police Chief on leave after controversial traffic stop
Image via City of Tampa.

Mary O'Connor
O'Connor used her position to get out of a traffic ticket.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has placed Police Chief Mary O’Connor on administrative leave, pending an investigation into a traffic stop in which O’Connor flashed her badge and asked for leniency. 

Body camera video first reported by Creative Loafing on Thursday shows O’Connor on a golf cart identifying herself as the Tampa Chief of Police and telling the Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputy she hoped he would “just let us go,” referring to herself and her husband who were driving without a license plate. The deputy obliged. 

“Police Chief Mary O’Connor has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into a recent traffic stop,” Castor said in a statement Friday.

The statement named Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw as acting Chief in the interim. Castor said O’Connor’s “unacceptable” behavior would face “appropriate discipline, according to the Tampa Bay Times. 

O’Connor and her husband were pulled over in Oldsmar near their home in East Lake Woodlands.

In the video, O’Connor was seen handing a business card to the Deputy, identified as Larry Jacoby, and telling him, “If you ever need anything, call me.”

O’Connor later apologized in a statement, noting that “in hindsight,” she realized how her “handling of this matter could be viewed as inappropriate.” She said that was not her intent and that she called the Pinellas County Sheriff “offering to pay for any potential citation.”

News of the thwarted traffic stop drew criticism Thursday evening and into Friday as people recalled a tumultuous start to O’Connor’s tenure as Chief. Critics questioned the hire after learning O’Connor was charged with battery on a Hillsborough Sheriff’s deputy during a DUI arrest in 1995.

O’Connor, whose last name then was Minter, was the passenger in the car with her now-husband Keith O’Connor. He was arrested on DUI charges and she was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer. Both were Tampa Police officers at the time. 

Staff Reports

One comment

  • It’s Complicated

    December 3, 2022 at 9:45 am

    LEOs across the country routinely give other LEOs, and often, Prosecutors, ‘a break’ from traffic offenses. Most of the time the LEO or Prosecutor that has committed the infraction simply lets their badge be seen, and does not actually ask for the break. Asking is probably what got this Chief in trouble.

Comments are closed.


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