Tampa Police Chief Mary O'Connor resigned from the force Monday after bodycam footage apparently showed her flashing her police badge at a traffic stop, while off-duty at the time, according to a disposition letter from the Tampa Police Department.
"The Tampa Police Department has a code of conduct that includes high standards for ethical and professional behavior that apply to every member of our police force. As the Chief of Police, you are not only to abide by and enforce those standards but to also lead by example. That clearly did not happen in this case," Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said in a statement.
Castor continued: "This is especially disappointing because I gave Mary O'Connor a second chance, as I believe in second chances for people. Which is one of the reasons that the disappointment today runs so deep.
"I had high hope for Chief O'Connor, as she was off to such a strong start by reducing violent gun crime, proactively engaging with our community and focusing on officer wellness. But these accomplishments pale in comparison to the priority I place on integrity," added Castor.
According to the disposition letter, O'Connor's husband was pulled over in Pinellas County (Florida) for driving an unregistered golf cart on a public road.
The off-duty Mary O'Connor, who was riding in the golf cart's passenger seat, then apparently displayed her badge to the deputy and said, "I am hoping you will let us go tonight."
The Tampa deputy reportedly let the O'Connors go with a verbal warning; and according to the letter, Mary O'Connor also left a business card with the officer who initiated the cart stop, before saying, "If you ever need anything, call me — serious."
For her resignation letter, Mary O'Connor explained she didn't want a "personal mistake" to overshadow the work of the Tampa PD, or hinder the department's relationship with the metro Tampa community.
"Whether I am wearing a badge or not, my commitment to service and oath of office will remain a part of my everyday life. I plan to use this time to reflect and spend time with my family and children before moving on to any future endeavors," wrote O'Connor.
Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw, a 25-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department, has been tapped acting police chief while the department conducts a national search for O'Connor's permanent successor.
"Chief O'Connor used her official position and her badge for obtaining privileges, not otherwise available, in an attempt to avoid the issuance of a traffic citation," Bercaw wrote to Castor in the letter identifying the findings of the internal review, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
"These actions comprised (sic) the professionalism, ethics, of the Police Chief and the City of Tampa," added Bercaw.
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