Florida Police Chief on Leave After Video Shows Her Using Badge to Avoid Ticket

The police chief of Tampa has been placed on leave after a video emerged of her flashing her badge from the passenger seat of a golf cart to get out of a traffic ticket.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor placed Chief Mary O'Connor on administrative leave Friday pending an investigation of the Nov. 12 traffic stop in Oldsmar, a city northwest of Tampa.

'I'm Hoping That You'll Just Let Us Go'

Mary O'Connor
A still from the bodycam footage shows Mary O'Connor showing the deputy her badge in the hopes of avoiding a ticket. YouTube

The body camera video, posted online by the Tampa Police Department, shows O'Connor's husband driving the cart and the chief in the passenger seat when a Pinellas County sheriff's deputy pulls them over for not having a tag.

"Is your camera on?" O'Connor said. "I'm the police chief in Tampa."

O'Connor then pulled out her police chief badge in the hopes the officer would let them off. "I'm hoping that you'll just let us go tonight," she told the deputy. The deputy allowed her to leave, and O'Connor and her golf cart driver drove off.

O'Connor Releases Statement, Says it was 'Poor Judgement' on Her Part

In a statement, O'Connor said it was "poor judgement" for them to have taken the cart out on public roads without a tag and said it was the first time they had driven it outside of a golf cart-friendly community where they own property.

"It was poor judgment on our part to be driving a golf cart on a public roadway without the appropriate tags," O'Connor said in a statement Friday.

"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," she added. "In hindsight, I realize how my handling of this matter could be viewed as inappropriate, but that was certainly not my intent."

The mayor said an internal review is underway. Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw will replace O'Connor as the acting chief.

"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."

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