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'I’m Hoping You’ll Just Let Us Go,' Chief Tells Deputy

Mary O'Connor steps down as Tampa chief of police after internal investigation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2022 1:38 PM CST

In 1995, Mary O'Connor, then a rookie cop in Tampa, was fired for punching a deputy during a traffic stop. She was reinstated a year later and rose through the ranks to become chief earlier this year, only to have her career ended by her behavior during another traffic stop. Body camera video shows that when O'Connor and husband Keith O'Connor were stopped in Pinellas County last month for driving a golf cart without a license plate on a public road, she flashed her badge and said, "I’m hoping you’ll just let us go tonight," WFLA reports. O'Connor, who was in the passenger seat, asked Deputy Larry Jacoby if his camera was on and told him, "I'm the chief of police in Tampa." They were allowed to leave without a citation.

Keith O'Connor told the deputy they lived in a nearby gated community and were returning from a restaurant. O'Connor gave Jacoby a card and said, "You ever need anything, call me." O'Connor stepped down after an internal affairs investigation found that she had violated regulations on standards of conduct and "abuse of position or identification," the AP reports. In a statement accepting the resignation, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor—who was the city's chief of police for six years—said O'Connor had a duty to enforce the police code of conduct and lead by example. "That clearly did not happen in this case," she said.

"This is especially disappointing because I gave Mary O’Connor a second chance, as I believe in second chances for people," Castor said. "Which is one of the reasons that the disappointment today runs so deep." In the 1995 incident, the O'Connors were pulled over by a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy. After Mary O'Connor disrupted deputies who were trying to give Keith O'Connor a sobriety test, she was placed in a squad car to calm down but kicked windows and punched a deputy, the Tampa Bay Times reports. She pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of battery and obstruction. Keith O'Connor, also a Tampa police officer, was charged with drunken driving and fired. He was also reinstated and retired as deputy chief in 2019. (Read more Tampa stories.)

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