Shaquille O’Neal, an NBA Hall-of-Famer, is one of the latest celebrities to throw his hat into the political ring. He told The Washington Post that he plans to run for sheriff in Henry County, Ga., in 2020.
This isn't the first time O’Neal has said he wants to run for sheriff. He also shared the idea in a May interview. He previously had said he wanted to run in Orlando, but he doesn't think it would be feasible since he works in Atlanta.
"Henry County has a population of about 215,000 and O’Neal said he recently bought a home there after signing a multiyear contract extension with TNT in 2015. O’Neal is a studio analyst for TNT and NBA TV, both of which are based in Atlanta," reports the Post.
"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," shared O'Neal.
O'Neal, who is both a Republican who supported Chris Christie in 2013 and a practicing Muslim, wants to be sheriff because he thinks he can do something about the divide between communities and the police.
“The gap between law enforcement and communities is too spread out. When I was coming up, police were real respected," says O'Neal. "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."
O'Neal also shares that he plans on—if he wins—approaching being sheriff with the same work ethic that made him a successful basketball player.
“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.”
But that doesn't mean that O'Neal doesn't have a concrete plan, and it doesn't mean he doesn't have experience in law enforcement. Over the years, O'Neal has been a deputy marshal in Lafayette, Louisiana, a reserve police officer in Florida, and a sheriff’s deputy in Clayton County, Georgia from 2016 onwards. He also shares that while he was growing up, 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.
A big part of his plan to fix the disconnect is focused on respect. That means not only the police respecting the community but also every member of the community respecting the police force.
“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.”
He added, “With the kids, you can’t talk to the officer like that.”
Do you think Shaq would make a good sheriff? He's not the only celebrity running for office, but he's the first Republican we've had announce their intentions in recent days.