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Tampa police chief placed on leave after golf cart traffic stop

Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The police chief of Tampa, Fla., has been placed on administrative leave after flashing her badge at a deputy who had stopped her while she and her husband were riding golf cart.

Police Chief Mary O'Connor and her husband were stopped last month after allegedly riding in a golf cart that did not have a license plate. Body camera footage released Thursday showed O'Connor flashing her badge to a Pinellas County sheriff's deputy and asking to "just let us go."

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The deputy then lets them leave without issuing a citation.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said in a tweet Friday that O'Connor "has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into a recent traffic stop."

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Yvette Lewis, president of the NAACP Hillsborough branch, told the Tampa Bay Times that O'Connor should be asked to resign.

"You see how (law enforcement) look after each other and turn a blind eye, but they come to the community and say, 'If you see someone committing a crime, say something,'" Lewis said. "But if it's in your law-enforcement family, they don't see and say something. They see something and close their mouths and walk away."

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In the video, husband Keith O'Connor says the pair had stopped to get food at a nearby restaurant and that they don't usually drive the cart on public roads.

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Mary O'Connor asks the deputy if his camera is on, and he says it is.

"I'm the police chief in Tampa," Mary O'Connor says, and then a moment later hands over her badge, adding, "I'm hoping you'll just let us go tonight."

In a statement released along with the video by the police department Thursday, O'Connor said she has apologized to Mayor Jane Castor and wanted to apologize to residents.

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"In hindsight, I realize how my handling of this matter could be viewed as inappropriate, but that was certainly not my intent," O'Connor said. "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."

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