NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal says he wants to run for sheriff in 2020 in Henry County, Georgia. O’Neal had previously talked about the idea in an interview in May.
O’Neal said he had wanted to run for sheriff in Florida, where he has a home after starting his career with the Orlando Magic. However, O’Neal, who now is a TV basketball analyst, recently signed a multi-year contract in 2015 with TNT and NBA TV, both of which have their studios in Atlanta, according to the Washington Post.
But O’Neal says he recently bought a home in Henry County, which has a population of 215,000, is about 30 miles south of Atlanta.
“I don’t think I could be sheriff in Florida and work in Atlanta,” O’Neal said. “So I bought a house in Atlanta, and I’m going to be in Atlanta full time, so it’s like, let me try here first, and maybe when it’s all said and done, I could go back and be the sheriff in Florida.”
He wants to run for sheriff because of a growing divide he sees between the police and communities.
“The gap between law enforcement and communities is too spread out,” O’Neal told the Washington Post. “When I was coming up, police were real respected. I don’t know how it’s gotten so far apart, but I know in the community that I live in, I know that I could change some of that. I’d just have to do it piece by piece and piece by piece, the way I do business, and the way I won championships, I’m very confident that I can run a successful operation.”
The way to close the gap is to be more accountable, O’Neal said.
“The plan is to really preach accountability, to really preach respect and really teach to treat people as human beings,” O’Neal said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on, I don’t want to comment on what’s going on, but not on my watch. Like for example: You can’t tase an old lady. For example: You can’t put a 6-year-old in handcuffs. Can’t do it. Not going to do it.”
And for the youth, Shaquille O’Neal had a message: “With the kids, you can’t talk to the officer like that.”
Shaq has previously graduated the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s reserve academy, he then became a reserve officer with the Los Angeles Port Police Department. In 2005, he was made an honorary U.S. Deputy Marshall and given an honorary role in a task force that tracks down sexual predators. He also spent time volunteering with the Tempe Police Department.
Later in 2005, Shaq became a Miami Beach reserve officer. In 2006, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio appointed Shaq as a “Captain” of his posse as a “special deputy.” Sheriff Joe later revoked Shaq’s status and demanded a return of his badges after the basketball star was in a rap video using inappropriate language.
In 2015 he was sworn in as a reserve police officer in Doral, Florida, and in December 2016, he was sworn in as a sheriff’s deputy in Clayton County, Georgia.
Outside of his experience with law enforcement, he continued to serve law enforcement by buying a Krispy Kreme in downtown Atlanta to prevent it from being shut down.
O’Neal said two of his uncles were police officers.
“And they were well-respected in the neighborhood and the disconnect has gotten to be out of control and I want to be one of the guys that closes it,” O’Neal said.