The Big Aristotle. Shaq Diesel. Big Shaqtus. Cuyahoga Sheriff’s Deputy O’Neal.
Basketball great Shaquille O’Neal isn’t quite there yet, but according to an exclusive interview granted to PoliceOne by Cuyahoga County Sheriff Bob Reid, the team he’s about to join (not the Cavaliers, now 0-2 in this young season) is Ohio law enforcement.
“I’ve had Shaq here in my office a couple times to discuss this issue but we want to do everything to make sure that all the paperwork is in order. We made inquiries with the Ohio Peace Officer Raining Academy — they’re ones that look at the prerequisites for an Ohio peace officer — to make sure that he has all the necessary prerequisites and qualifications to become a police officer here in Ohio. We’ve done that. Then what we had to do was have Shaquille actually submit his application. I signed it and sent it in to the state. That’s where we are with it right now. The bottom line is that we’ve sent it into OPODA, and we’ve gotten verbal word that everything is in order, but we’re waiting to get the paperwork back from the Attorney General’s office that says yes, everything is in order and this is what he has to do.”
O’Neal, a giant on the hardwood — he stands more than seven feet tall and weighs more than 300 pounds — has for many years expressed a big interest in law enforcement. During the course of his career, which includes stints with the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns and now the Cleveland Cavaliers, he has also tried to make an impact with local law enforcement agencies where he’s played. O’Neal has been a reserve officer with the with the Los Angeles Port Police and the Miami Beach Police Department, and has been given an honorary title of U.S. Deputy Marshal. He has also volunteered for the Tempe Arizona Police Department and was a deputy for the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia in 2005.
Sheriff Reid confirms a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that “if O'Neal is approved, he would need to complete 36 hours of police training within six months and take the Ohio police examination to maintain the appointment, said Holly Hollingsworth, spokeswoman for the Attorney General. He would also have to pass a test on a shooting range,” said the Plain Dealer.
The first overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, Shaq is now Sheriff Reid’s next pick for the Internet Crime Against Children Task Force with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department.
“I’ve already had a meeting with our prosecutor, Bill Mason, and what we’re looking at is having Shaq join ICAC. Shaq was involved in this years ago — I believe it was in Florida — going online and finding these predators who are going after children, and building a case against them. Shaq has some background in this, and that’s what he would like to be involved in here. The prosecutor is looking to see if we can put him on the task force, I’m looking at naming him as a Special Deputy to be assigned to that task force, as long as the paperwork comes back. But again, we’ve been given the verbal information that it is in order.”
Fans in Cleveland — remember these are the folks who pack “the Dog Pound” on Sunday afternoons in December — want Shaq to focus strictly on basketball. Shaq has said his goal this season is to “get a ring for the King” — the King being young superstar Lebron James.
“He’s an impressive guy,” Reid tells PoliceOne. “He wants to keep it as low profile as possible, but you know I told him, ‘You’re a high-profile guy, so it’s going to be kind of hard to keep this low profile.’ But you know, once we make him a special deputy and he’s working the task force, that’s a semi-covert office. The bottom line is that he wants to do police work. That’s the most important thing. After his career in the NBA, he wants to do police work.”
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