Tampa Police Chief Quits

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The police chief of Tampa, Florida, has resigned after it emerged that she used her position to dodge a ticket for using her golf cart on the street.

Body-cam video shows Mary O’Connor and her husband being stopped last month by a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy near the gated community where they live.

She identified herself, flashed her badge and told the deputy: “I’m hoping you’ll just let us go tonight.”

The mayor of Tampa said on Monday that the police chief broke ethics rules.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has requested and received the resignation of Police Chief Mary O’Connor,” the mayor said in a statement released by her office, adding that she violated policies on “standard of conduct” and “abuse of position or identification.

Video released last week shows the 12 November incident in a suburb outside of Tampa, Florida’s third largest city.

The deputy is seen explaining that Mrs O’Connor and her husband were being pulled over for driving an unlicensed vehicle on the street.

Mrs O’Connor explains that she’s going to pick up food, and that she doesn’t normally drive the car on public streets.

She then asks the deputy if his body-cam is on. When he says it is, she tells him, “I’m the police chief in Tampa.”

The deputy is heard telling her they have “a lot of problems with golf carts around here.” She is seen handing him her business card before being let go without a ticket.

In an apology last week, Mrs O’Connor said she understood how “this matter could be viewed as inappropriate, but that was certainly not my intent.”

Mayor Castor’s statement on Monday said that the police chief was expected to lead by example and be held to “high standards for ethical and professional behaviour.

That clearly did not happen in this case,” she said calling it “unacceptable for any public employee, and especially the city’s top law enforcement leader, to ask for special treatment because of their position.”

Mrs O’Connor was sworn into office in March after serving for 22 years on the city’s police force.

In 1995 she was fired as an officer after being arrested for attacking deputies during a traffic stop before being re-hired the following year.

 

 

BBC /Shakirat Sadiq

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