12/09/2005

Watch it! Shaquille O'Neal now carries a badge

After a year of training, Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal is sworn in as a reserve officer Thursday. At 7' 1" and 300+ lbs., there's no doubt he has command presence. O'Neal hopes to be a chief or sheriff one day. (AP Photo/Miami Beach Police Department)

The Associated Press

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Look out criminals, Officer Shaq is on the beat.

Shaquille O'Neal was sworn in as a reserve police officer Thursday, with the Miami Heat center choosing to skip a public event in favor of a quiet, no-frills ceremony.

Officer O'Neal is very considerate toward the other officers, and he was afraid if he was there he would have taken away from that moment for other officers," department spokesman Robert Hernandez said. "This is a very special time for them and their families."

The former Laker was a reserve officer in Los Angeles before moving to South Florida. He spent the past year training as a Miami Beach police reserve officer and can now add the $1-a-year salary to his $100 million, five-year contract with the Heat.

"The 7-foot-1 player will be able to carry a gun, wear a badge and make arrests, but with his celebrity status, he most likely will not walk a beat or go undercover. He will work as time permits in the volunteer position.

O'Neal has said he is most interested in working with the special victims detective unit to help stop crimes against children.

"He made it clear when he decided to come to Miami Beach that he didn't want to just be a poster boy for photo ops, he wanted to get down and dirty and do the job," Hernandez said. "He's here to conduct investigations and to make arrests."

And in September he did just that. After seeing a man throw a bottle and yell anti-gay slurs at a passer-by, O'Neal trailed the man and helped an officer arrest him as a hate-crime suspect.

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