Tampa police chief put on administrative leave after flashing badge during golf cart stop

The Tampa, Fla., police chief has been suspended after showing his badge for traveling in an unlicensed golf cart, the mayor of Florida said Friday.

Chief Mary O’Connor, appointed in February, has apologized for the November incident. The Dec. 12 incident in Oldsmar, northwest of Tampa, was captured on the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy’s body camera. The video was released on Thursday.

O’Connor was a passenger in a golf cart driven by her husband that night, police said in a statement.

Tampa Police Chief Mary O'Connor drives a golf cart in Oldsmar, northwest of Tampa, on Nov. 11.  12.
Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor drives a golf cart in Oldsmar, northwest of Tampa, on Nov. 11. 12.Tampa Police Department via YouTube

The video shows O’Connor asking the deputy if his body camera is on, and when he says yes, she says, “I’m Tampa’s police chief.” The deputy asks how she’s doing.

“I’m fine. I hope you’ll let us go tonight,” O’Connor said, opening her badge box and handing it to her husband, the video shows. The deputy let them go.

O’Connor said in a statement Thursday that the couple owns property in a “golf cart friendly community.” But vehicles outside residential areas must have license plates.

She said in the statement that this was the first time they had left the community in a golf cart and that it was “errors of judgement” to drive it on public roads without proper tags.

O’Connor said she was willing to pay any fine and apologize to the deputy. “I know that no one is above the law, including me,” she said in a statement.

Mayor Jane Custer said Thursday that O’Connor “has voluntarily contacted the Tampa Police Professional Standards Bureau to request the same disciplinary action as any officer would receive for similar conduct” and that an internal review is underway.

Custer said Friday that the police chief will be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

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