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Tampa City Council debates appointment of new police chief

None of the council members spoke in favor of new police chief Mary O'Connor.

TAMPA, Fla. — It's been a little more than a week since Tampa Mayor Jane Castor named Mary O'Connor as the city's new police chief.

Since then, councilmembers have been inundated with backlash from the community.

At Thursday's meeting, councilmembers revealed they've gotten more calls and e-mails on this issue than any other.


Here are the main issues council members discussed in their meeting:

Why not Butch? Interim Chief Ruben "Butch" Delgado had been serving in the role since October. Councilmember Bill Carlson called him a "breath of fresh air" and professional. Other council members said police officers wanted Delgado.

Why weren't they included? Councilmembers said they don't feel like they were included in the hiring process, and the entire procedure lacked community engagement. 

"I wanted Butch Delgado but it’s not about Butch or O’Connor. It’s about the way it was handled," said Councilmember Joseph Citro. "If the public was contacted, if the public was engaged this would not happen right now."

What about her arrest in 1995? Mary O'Connor was arrested when she was a rookie officer at age 24. According to published reports, she was charged with battery on a deputy and disorderly conduct after she and another officer were pulled over for suspected DUI. She was suspended from TPD but later reinstated.

The community has expressed outrage over this level of forgiveness. During the public comments portion of the council meeting, multiple people suggested Black community members would have been in prison rather than promoted to police chief.

"We have a city that’s really angry right now," said Chairman Orlando Gudes.


Tampa City Council has 90 days to confirm the appointment. If they vote against the confirmation, Mayor Jane Castor can choose to resubmit Mary O'Connor as the nomination or put forth a new candidate. 

Council and Mayor Castor could find themselves in a deadlock position if that cycle continues.

None of the council members revealed how they will vote at Thursday's meeting, and a date to confirm Mary O'Connor was not set.

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