Pinellas County deputy who let former Tampa police chief out of traffic stop won't be disciplined

A former sergeant told CNN that it's normal for law enforcement officers to let each other go during traffic violations.

click to enlarge Pinellas County deputy who let former Tampa police chief out of traffic stop won't be disciplined
Photovia PSCO/Facebook
The Pinellas County Sheriff Deputy who let former Tampa Police Chief Mary O'Connor out of a traffic violation will not be disciplined.

PCSO confirmed to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay that Deputy Larry Jacoby will not face reprimand after a Nov. 12 traffic stop where he released O'Connor without question  after she flashed her TPD badge.

"Deputy Jacoby not facing discipline," PCSO Sergeant Amanda Sinni wrote in an email last week. When asked this week for elaboration on why the deputy was not facing any sort of discipline, Sinni did not respond.

But WFLA reported that during a press conference on Monday, Sheriff Gualtieri said, “Deputy Larry Jacoby did absolutely nothing wrong. I stand by him 110%"

Gualtieri said the only person who did wrong is Mary O’Connor, saying that what happened is "Tampa's business."

In the video first obtained by CL after multiple public records requests, Jacoby pulls O'Connor and her husband Keith over for driving on a golf cart on a public road without a license plate. He approaches the couple as Keith tries to explain what they were doing.

O'Connor asks if Jacoby's camera is on, then tells him she's the police chief in Tampa and says, "I really hope you'll just let us go tonight," while pulling out her badge to show him.
click to enlarge Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Deputy Larry Jacoby in 2012. - Pinellas County Sheriff
Pinellas County Sheriff
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Deputy Larry Jacoby in 2012.

Jacoby mentions that he thinks he recognizes O'Connor and lets them go, after shaking O'Connor's hand. She hands him her card. "If you ever need anything call me—serious," she tells Jacoby.

CL first reported on the video last week, and O'Connor submitted her resignation yesterday, at the demand of Mayor Jane Castor. While PCSO is not elaborating on why Jacoby is not being reprimanded, it is common practice that law enforcement officers have discretion if they issue traffic citations or perform sobriety checks on drivers.

However, in the video Jacoby let O'Connor go specifically because she showed him her badge, which is a privilege that most citizens don't have. This is a key factor of the interaction that has caused uproar around the country, leading to O'Connor's resignation.
One retired Los Angeles Police Department sergeant told CNN that Jacoby's behavior in letting O'Connor go is expected and normal in the law enforcement community.

"Listen, it's really not that big of a deal," retired Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey, adding that many law enforcement officers have let each other go over the years.

Dorsey tried to play off the backlash to O'Connor's behavior as sexism, and said that it's expected that cops don't hold each other to the same standards as the rest of the public during traffic stops.

"People say, well why did the chief ID herself?" Dorsey said. "We do that expecting professional courtesies like every other occupation does when you run into your colleagues."

When asked if that was a double standard for the average citizen who would not receive that kind of treatment, Dorsey said that she always shows her police identification when pulled over and that cops let each other off all the time.

Dorsey added that she's been aware of cops pulling over other cops who were driving drunk and just give them a ride home, rather than charge them with a crime.

But to the question of whether this type of preferential treatment for law enforcement is ethical or not, Dorsey didn't have a direct answer.

"Is it right? You know, that's up for you know, whoever to decide, whether or not it's right," Dorsey said. "But it's what happens. It's the culture."


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Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia has written for The Nation, Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal, the USA Today Network and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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