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Tampa City Council Approves New Police Chief

TAMPA, Fla. — Thursday, the Tampa City Council approved new Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor by a 4-2 vote after a contentious process that led to hard feelings from the Tampa City Council.

O’Connor was picked by Mayor Jane Castor to be the new police chief in February.

From her biography, O’Connor served the Tampa Police Department for 22 years, rising to the rank of assistant chief before retiring in 2016. Since then, the city said she spent time traveling the country, teaching and providing subject matter expertise and training to law enforcement and criminal justice executives. She also served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I am honored and humbled to stand before you as Tampa’s newest Police Chief,” Mary O’Connor said during the February press conference. “I believe in this community and in this department and together, we can do great things.”

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During her selection announcement in February, O’Connor briefly touched on her past, which some were criticized, when she was asked about officers with disciplinary problems and second chances.

“I evaluate the totality of the circumstances. I think every case stands on its own merit,” said O’Connor. “I believe in second chances, wholeheartedly as you pointed out, but I also believe that discipline needs to be given in a fair and impartial manner. So I think just like the chance that was given to me 28 years ago to evaluate every aspect of my own case, I look forward to doing that with the men and women of this department as well.”

During the hearing Thursday, council members voiced more concern with the selection process and their perceived disrespect than with the final selection of O’Connor.

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