Top Florida cop faces probe for pulling rank on deputy who stopped her for breaking law in golf cart

‘I’m the police chief in Tampa, I hope you’ll get us go!’ Moment top Florida cop pulls rank on deputy who stopped her for illegally driving golf cart on road: Was booted from previous force over 1995 assault charge

  • The police chief of one of Florida’s biggest cities was placed on leave after she was seen on camera attempting to ask a deputy to look the other way 
  • Police Chief Mary O’Connor was spotted on body cam footage attempting to use her position to get out of a traffic stop with Deputy Larry Jacoby 
  • O’Connor in 1995 was kicked off the force after an incident where she was charged with assault, obstruction and disorderly intoxication 
  • She and her husband Keith O’Connor were stopped by Jacoby when she asks him: ‘Is your camera on?’
  • When Jacoby affirms, O’Connor says: ‘I’m the police chief from Tampa… I’m hoping that you’ll just let us go tonight’

The police chief of one Florida‘s biggest cities has been put on administrative leave after she asked a deputy to look the other way when she was driving a golf cart on the road illegally.

Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor was recorded on body cam footage attempting to use her position to get out of a traffic stop with Deputy Larry Jacoby.

O’Connor, who in 1995 was kicked off the force after an incident where she was charged with assault, obstruction and disorderly intoxication, was driving the cart on a public road in Pinellas County without a license on November 12 at 7.30pm.

She and her husband Keith O’Connor were stopped by Jacoby, before she asked him: ‘Is your camera on?’

When Jacoby confirmed it was, O’Connor said: ‘I’m the police chief from Tampa… I’m hoping that you’ll just let us go tonight.’ 

Police Chief Mary O'Connor was spotted on body cam footage attempting to use her position to get out of a traffic stop

Police Chief Mary O’Connor was spotted on body cam footage attempting to use her position to get out of a traffic stop

O'Connor, who in 1995 was kicked off the force after an incident where she was charged with assault, obstruction and disorderly intoxication, was driving the golf cart on a public road in Pinellas County without a license on November 12 at around 7:30 p.m.

O’Connor, who in 1995 was kicked off the force after an incident where she was charged with assault, obstruction and disorderly intoxication, was driving the golf cart on a public road in Pinellas County without a license on November 12 at around 7:30 p.m.

Deputy Larry Jacoby (pictured right) stopped O'Connor and her husband Keith

Deputy Larry Jacoby (pictured right) stopped O’Connor and her husband Keith

She and her husband Keith O'Connor were stopped by Jacoby when she asks him: 'Is your camera on?' When Jacoby affirms, O'Connor says: 'I'm the police chief from Tampa... I'm hoping that you'll just let us go tonight'

She and her husband Keith O’Connor were stopped by Jacoby when she asks him: ‘Is your camera on?’ When Jacoby affirms, O’Connor says: ‘I’m the police chief from Tampa… I’m hoping that you’ll just let us go tonight’

Jacoby said that he thought he recognized O’Connor and let her and her husband go after a handshake. 

O’Connor leaves him with her card and a message as they drive away: ‘If you ever need anything call me – serious.’ 

Local reporters had attempted to get the footage, which police claimed not to have, for weeks before it was finally released on Thursday.

The footage finally came out with a message from O’Connor, writing: ‘I want you to hear it from me first prior to news stories circulating.’

She added: ‘This was the first time we had ever taken the golf cart onto a public roadway, prompting the need for a license plate. During our conversation with the deputy, which I knew was being recorded on body-worn camera, I use poor judgment by noting my position at the Tampa Police Department and asking him for for forgiveness for our mistake.’

O’Connor claims that while ‘in hindsight’ the interaction could be ‘viewed as inappropriate, that was certainly not my intent.’

The chief is ‘remorseful’ and has offered to pay for any potential citation, while also apologizing to Mayor Jane Castor and ‘to you employees of our police department as well.’ 

By Friday, Castor – a former Tampa police chief herself – tweeted: ‘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.’ 

She has also asked Tampa Police’s Professional Standards Bureau to give her the same discipline any officer would get for similar conduct.

While it’s unclear if Tampa PD will sanction her, driving on a roadway without a license is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, according to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.

The chief is 'remorseful' and has offered to pay for any potential citation, while also apologizing to Mayor Jane Castor (pictured) and 'to you employees of our police department as well'

The chief is ‘remorseful’ and has offered to pay for any potential citation, while also apologizing to Mayor Jane Castor (pictured) and ‘to you employees of our police department as well’

Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw is serving as acting chief

Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw is serving as acting chief

In 1995 O’Connor – then Mary Minter – was a passenger when her then-boyfriend and future husband Keith O’Connor were pulled over on suspicion of DUI. 

Keith O’Connor was charged with drunk driving, but Chief O’Connor was charged with assault on an officer, obstruction and disorderly intoxication for kicking the windows of the police car and punching a deputy. 

Mary O’Connor was eventually reinstated, working on the force until retiring in 2016 before coming back to serve as chief earlier this year. She said at the time she believed in second chances.

In a statement, Mayor Castor said: ‘We hold everyone accountable, no matter their position, and this behavior was unacceptable. Chief O’Connor will go through the due process and face appropriate discipline.’ 

Councilman Bill Carlson, a critic of the appointment, claimed that the incident ‘prove I was correct in challenging this appointment and that Castor should have listened to the public feedback rather than bullying and attacking Council related to this vote.’

O’Connor has also come under scrutiny in the past for participating in a police program that disproportionately stopped black bikers and for installing a mute function on police bodycams. 

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