Tampa assistant police chief Mary O'Connor to retire

Mary O’Connor, a Tampa assistant police chief, will retire after more than 20 years at the department. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] 
Mary O’Connor, a Tampa assistant police chief, will retire after more than 20 years at the department. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] 
Published Apr. 7, 2016

TAMPA — Mary O'Connor, one of two assistant police chiefs and the highest ranking woman at the Tampa Police Department, will retire next month.

O'Connor, 45, said Wednesday she will leave the job May 13 in order to spend more time with her 14-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter. She has spent 22 years with the Tampa police, the last year as assistant chief of operations.

"It was a position that I was thrilled to be asked to do," O'Connor said. "I gave it my all. It's been a very rewarding year, but there has been some sacrifices that I've had to make."

O'Connor said it was always her plan to retire after 20 years in order to focus on raising her family. But her rapid rise through the department hierarchy kept her there longer than she anticipated.

In April 2015, newly named police Chief Eric Ward selected her to be the assistant chief of operations, along with Brian Dugan, who was named the assistant chief of investigations and support.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn considered O'Connor, Dugan and Ward for the department's top job upon the retirement of former Chief Jane Castor.

As assistant chief, O'Connor has overseen patrol operations in each of the department's three police districts. She helped create the Violent Crime Bureau, a group of police who work with federal agencies to combat violent crime, particularly gun violence.

Before becoming assistant chief, O'Connor served seven months as deputy chief. Before that, she was the major in charge of the criminal investigations division, which is now headed by her husband, Maj. Keith O'Connor. She also spent several years as a sergeant and lieutenant in District 2, which covers north Tampa, focusing on economic crimes.

O'Connor started at the Tampa Police Department in 1994, after about two years with the Madeira Beach Police Department. She holds a bachelor's degree in criminology from the University of South Florida and a master's from St. Leo University.

Asked if she will continue to work elsewhere, O'Connor said she is not sure. She plans to take the summer off before making any professional decisions.

"I imagine doors will open up down the road," she said.