Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has revealed that Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor may be punished for a November 12 golf cart incident. On a fateful day, a Pinellas County deputy had stopped O’Connor and their husband Keith as they drove a golf cart outside a residential area in Oldsmar. The cart did not have a license plate, and this appeared to be why the deputy stopped them.
According to video footage from the body camera worn by the deputy, the officer who did not recognize O’Connor asked if the couple lived in East Lake Woodlands and they responded that they did. The officer introduced himself as Deputy Jacoby, and Chief O’Connor also expressed delight in meeting the officer.
The police chief said she and her husband had gone to a Greek restaurant to buy some takeaway and expressed regret that they had to drive the golf cart on the main road, and with no license plate. O’Connor then brought out an identification card to show the officer that she was the police chief. “If you ever need anything, call me,” she had said.
“No worries,” the deputy responded pleasantly. “We have a lot of problems with the golf carting around here.”
They were not cited for the incident, and the deputy let them go. But after the video footage was posted on the YouTube channel of the Tampa Police Department, there was a public outcry that O’Connor flouted public rules and used her position to wriggle out of the mess. O’Connor apologized to the general public and to Mayor Castor for the incident, saying she was open to the consequences of her actions.
“It was poor judgment on our part to be driving a golf cart on a public roadway without the appropriate tags,” the police chief stated. “In hindsight, I realize how my handling of this matter could be viewed as inappropriate, but that was certainly not my intent. I knew my conversation was on video, and my motive was not to put the deputy in an uncomfortable position. I have personally called the Pinellas County Sheriff offering to pay for any potential citation.”
Castor said O’Connor may be punished for the incident, and the Pinellas Police Department said they are carrying out an internal review of the matter. Spokesperson Amanda Sinni disclosed that Deputy Sheriff Jacoby is not being investigated for the event.
“We hold everyone accountable, no matter their position and this behavior was unacceptable,” Castor said. “Chief O’Connor will go through the due process and face appropriate discipline.”