Florida police chief resigns after video emerged of her trying to evade golf cart traffic stop: ‘Let us go’

Body camera footage shows Tampa Bay, Florida, police chief Mary O’Connor, on 13 November during a traffic stop (Tampa Bay Police Department)
Body camera footage shows Tampa Bay, Florida, police chief Mary O’Connor, on 13 November during a traffic stop (Tampa Bay Police Department)

A Tampa, Florida, police chief has resigned after body camera footage caught her using her rank to get out of a police traffic stop for driving a golf cart without tags.

Mary O’Connor submitted her resignation on Monday following an internal affairs review which found she violated police department policy during the 12 November stop by a Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputy.

In video obtained by Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Ms O’Connor is seen trying to brush off the deputy who pulled her and her husband over in the cart.

“Is your camera on?” Ms O’Connor asks the deputy, Larry Jacoby, while gritting her teeth. “I’m the police chief from Tampa... I’m hoping that you’ll just let us go tonight.”

As the officers chat, Deputy Jacoby acknowledges, “We have a lot of problems with the golf carting around here, everybody comes out,” before letting the couple go.

“If you ever need anything call me—I’m serious,” Ms O’Connor tells the officer, handing him her card before the two shake hands and thank each other for their service.

After being placed on administrative leave immediately after the video was made public, Ms O’Connor admitted in an email to the department she showed “poor judgment,” Creative Loafing reported.

“In hindsight, I realise that conversation could be viewed as inappropriate, but that was certainly not my intent,” she wrote. “I’ve personally called the Pinellas County Sheriff Office offering to pay for any potential citation.”

An internal review found that Ms O’Connor violated regulations on standards of conduct and “abuse of position or identification”.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor subsequently asked the police chief to resign.

“The Tampa Police Department has a code of conduct that includes high standards for ethical and professional behavior that apply to every member of our police force,” Mayor Castor said in a statement.

“As the Chief of Police, you are not only to abide by and enforce those standards but to also lead by example. That clearly did not happen in this case.”

Ms O’Connor’s post - which she held for nearly a year - will be filled by Assistant Police Chief Lee Bercaw until a permanent replacement is found via nationwide search.

Ms O’Connor has gotten in trouble with traffic stops in the past.

In 1995, as a rookie cop, her husband, also a police officer, was pulled over on suspicion of a DUI by Hillsborough County sheriffs and charged with drink driving.

As Ms O’Connor was put in the back of a police car, she punched a deputy and kicked the windows, for which she was later charged with assault, obstruction and disorderly intoxication.

She and her husband were both kicked off then reinstated to the Tampa police force.