TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has named her pick for Tampa’s new police chief: former assistant chief Mary O’Connor.
O’Connor previously worked for the Tampa Police Department for 22 years before retiring in 2016.
Following her retirement, O’Connor spent five years going across the United States to help other agencies improve their community relations. She also served as a consultant to the Department of Justice and FBI.
“While we had three very skilled candidates as finalists for the position of police chief, Mary stood out,” Castor said. “She brings to the table not just her innate knowledge of the Tampa Police Department, but her time spent with other police departments across the country. Mary understands where we may do things differently.“
O’Connor said she wanted improve community relations and take a team approach to prevent crime with the community’s assistance.
“We simply can’t arrest our way out of the problem,” O’Connor said. “That doesn’t work.”
The newly appointed chief said while there is always room to grow, Tampa’s police force is second to none.
“I can tell you, without a doubt, TPD is the best police department in this nation,” she said.
O’Connor had trouble early in her career. She was a passenger in a car when the driver was pulled over on suspicion of DUI. When officers stopped the car, O’Connor became involved in an argument and was eventually arrested and charged with assault on a law enforcement officer.
She said she would use that experience as Chief of the department.
“I think just like the chance that was given to me 28 years ago to evaluate every respect of my own case,I look forward to doing that with the men and women of this department as well, ” said O’Connor.
O’Connor still needs to be confirmed by the city council, but Castor said she didn’t see there being any trouble. She believed O’Connor could begin in her new role as early as next week.
O’Connor will go before the council this Thursday.