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Tampa police chief placed on leave after bodycam video shows her flashing badge during traffic stop


Tampa, Florida’s police chief has been placed on administrative leave after body camera footage revealed her flashing her badge during a traffic stop and saying she hoped the deputy would “let us go.”

Police Chief Mary O’Connor and her husband were pulled over by a Pinellas County deputy for driving a golf cart without a license plate tag on Nov. 12.

In the video, the deputy explains to the couple that they were pulled over for driving an unlicensed vehicle without the tag on it.

During the stop, O’Connor asked the deputy if his body-worn camera was recording. The deputy responded, “It is.”

O’Connor states, “I’m the police chief in Tampa,” while flashing her law enforcement badge.

“I’m hoping you’ll just let us go tonight,” she added.

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Chief O’Connor and her husband were stopped by a Pinellas County deputy outside of an Oldsmar neighborhood on Nov. 12.

Chief O’Connor and her husband were stopped by a Pinellas County deputy outside of an Oldsmar neighborhood on Nov. 12.
(Fox 13)

O’Connor was captured on body camera video asking if the deputy’s camera was on and flashing her badge to the deputy before saying, "I’m hoping you’ll just let us go tonight."

O’Connor was captured on body camera video asking if the deputy’s camera was on and flashing her badge to the deputy before saying, “I’m hoping you’ll just let us go tonight.”
(Fox 13)

“If you ever need anything, call me,” O’Connor said, handing the deputy her card. “Seriously.”

The couple was let go.

O’Connor released a statement after the video was released, saying her actions were a result of “poor judgment” to have been driving on a public road without appropriate tags. She said she realized her handling of it could be viewed as inappropriate.

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“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,” O’Connor said. “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.”

Mayor Jane Castor has issued a statement on Friday, "Police Chief Mary O'Connor has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into a recent traffic stop. Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw is serving as acting Chief."

Mayor Jane Castor has issued a statement on Friday, “Police Chief Mary O’Connor has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into a recent traffic stop. Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw is serving as acting Chief.”
(Fox 13)

She added, “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.”

On Friday afternoon, Mayor Jane Castor released a statement about the incident, stating the O’Connor has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the traffic stop. 

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Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw is serving as acting chief in Tampa during O’Connor’s leave, Castor said.