Sitting down in front of a basketball hoop inside Live! Casino & Hotel just outside Baltimore, Shaquille O’Neal, the NBA Hall-of-Famer and four-time champion, elaborated on his plans to run for sheriff in Henry County, Ga., in 2020.
O’Neal previously floated the idea to run for the position in a television interview back in May. 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.
O’Neal said he had always wanted to run for sheriff in Florida, where he has a home (in Orlando), but because of the new deal, “I don’t think I could be sheriff in Florida and work in Atlanta. 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.”
For O’Neal, the decision to run for sheriff came down to what he sees as a divide between communities and the police. In recent years, the shooting deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, where officer Betty Shelby was acquitted of manslaughter in the case, sparked several protests.
“The gap between law enforcement and communities is too spread out. 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,” said O’Neal, who was at the casino for a charity free throw shooting competition against owner David Cordish. “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.”
Part of O’Neal’s plan, he said, is to have 30 and 40-year veterans at his side, “to ensure that we do things to the highest quality as possible.”
O’Neal again added: “It’s just a disconnect between people and police that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
He said he has a plan for how to close the gap between police and citizens.
SOURCE: Aaron Torres
The Washington Post