TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Police Department addressed an incident Thursday involving Chief of Police Mary O’Connor and her spouse in which the couple was pulled over in a golf cart without a license plate on the evening of Nov. 12.
The department said the couple was stopped by a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy outside of a residential area in Oldsmar.
During the stop, O’Connor asked the deputy, identified as Larry Jacoby, if his body-worn camera was recording. The deputy responded, “It is.”
O’Connor then stated, “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.
The deputy said he thought he recognized O’Connor, who has been chief of the Department since February 2022.
“If you ever need anything, call me,” O’Connor said on video, handing the deputy her card. “Seriously.”
The couple were let go.
In response to the incident, Chief Mary O’Connor said her handling of the matter “could be viewed as inappropriate.”
“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,” O’Connor said in a statement.
“We hold everyone accountable, no matter their position, and this behavior was unacceptable,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said. “Chief O’Connor will go through the due process and face appropriate discipline.”
Chief O’Connor’s full statement can be read below.
“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.
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.”
The department said Chief O’Connor voluntarily reached out to the Tampa Police Professional Standards Bureau asking to receive the same discipline any officer would receive for similar conduct. An internal review of the incident is underway.