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Shaq: Officer-to-Be Front and Center at IACP




Peter Matthews/Officer.com
Shaq checks out the 'Mosquito' from Sigarms at the IACP conference Sunday.


Peter Matthews/Officer.com
Shaq shows off his conference credentials.


Peter Matthews/Officer.com
Shaq checked out many vendors along the way.


Peter Matthews/Officer.com
Shaq browses some badges to find one big enough.


Lon Slepicka/Officer.com
R. Lee Ermey, best known for his role as Gunny Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, signs autographs at a booth at IACP. He is the celebrity spokesperson for GLOCK firearms and products.

LON SLEPICKA
Officer.com

Police officer or basketball player? Maybe both.

Shaquille O'Neal opened the exhibit floor at the 113th Annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Maimi Beach Sunday. And then he took more then an hour walking amongst the exhibitors checking out everything from Beretta weapons to his future badge design.

Why? The 7-foot-1 Miami Heat center may soon be a certified Miami Beach Police Officer after comparative compliance checks with his California certification where he has 865 hours of law enforcement training. He is currently a reserve police officer for the agency.

Miami Beach Assistant Chief Raymond Martinez, walking the floor with Shaq said soon he would be a street officer just like himself. "He told me when he is done [with basketball] he wants to be a chief of law enforcement somewhere small. And he doesn't want to do it on his name only." Martinez, who has spent a lot of time with Shaq, has no qualms about that at all. And he says yes, Shaq can fit into a Crown Vic.

A few days ago, Shaq helped police catch an individual who allegedly assaulted a gay couple in South Beach. He reportedly witnessed a man throwing a bottle and verbally abusing the couple so he did what any trained policeman would do - he trailed the dude's car and flagged down the cops. "For this incident I don't want to be credited as an individual who does police work," O'Neal said in a statement. "I want to be credited as a Miami Beach police officer."

IACP President Chief Joseph G. Estey, can also see Shaq as a cop. "There is a legitimate place for him in a law enforcement agency. He is a unique individual and there are a number of things he could do for a community. From what I have seen, he is into law enforcement. He could have come and gone today but he stayed for beyond what I would have expected. We know he is not in this for the money."

On the exhibit floor there were those looks of awe that normally follow Shaq around where ever he goes. He never said no to a picture or autograph request. He even took the phone from Sylvia Gregory, wife of Rock Hill, S.C. Chief John Gregory to say Hi to their son at college.

He sighted down the barrels of several weapons, talked with the TASER International repersentatives about their foundation and stopped at a GLOCK booth where actor R. Lee Ermey -- best known for his role as "Sergeant Gunny" in Full Metal Jacket and host of The History Channel's "Mail Call" -- was signing autographs, so he could shake his hand.

How the police view Shaq as a cop is hard to determine. Everybody loves him. There is that element of a celebrity looking for legitimacy in society, real life. But away from short pants and basketballs, watching him interact with the police in an environment that he appears to feel very comfortable in, the possibility of Shaq the Cop, trained, certified and able, is something that does not seem so strange or ridiculous.
 
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