TAMPA, Fla. — The city's police chief is on administrative leave, according to a statement Friday by Mayor Jane Castor, after an interaction with a Pinellas County deputy while on an untagged golf cart.
What You Need To Know
- Police Chief Mary O'Connor has been placed on administrative leave
- Mayor Jane Castor had said Thursday that O'Connor would "face appropriate discipline" after an interaction with a Pinellas County deputy
- It happened Nov. 12, and the video was released to the media Thursday
- BELOW: Watch the video in its entirety
"Police Chief Mary O'Connor has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into a recent traffic stop," Castor said Friday. "Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw is serving as acting Chief."
Castor had said Thursday that O'Connor would "face appropriate discipline" after the interaction with a Pinellas County deputy.
On Nov. 12, O'Connor and her husband were stopped by a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office deputy while riding in a golf cart without a license plate outside of a residential area in Oldsmar. The incident was recorded on the deputy's body-worn camera and can be viewed below. It was released Thursday by the police department.
During the exchange, O'Connor told the deputy she was Tampa's police chief and showed identification. The deputy eventually let them leave the scene.
In a statement, O'Connor said: "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."
"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."
CITY HALL REACTS: The reaction was immediate out of City Hall. Councilman Bill Carlson was one of two on the council against confirming O’Connor as chief in the first place. He cited concerns with not only the process but also charges she faced as a rookie cop when she pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery and obstruction.
“When you hand your business card and you say, ‘If you need something in Tampa let me know,’ well the message that sends to the residents of Tampa is that some people get special treatment in Tampa,” Carlson said.
Council Chairman Joe Citro did support O’Connor’s confirmation in February. His response was to let the investigation play out.
“Any officer that does anything questionable, whether it be a patrol officer or the chief of police, must be investigated for anything they may have done,” Citro said.
The investigation into O’Connor is expected to be complete in a manner of days.
O'Connor said Thursday she apologized to Castor and also apologized to city residents.
"We hold everyone accountable, no matter their position, and this behavior was unacceptable," Castor said. "Chief O'Connor will go through the due process and face appropriate discipline."