Shaquille O’Neal is now the man with the badge in Doral.
On Tuesday, the former Miami Heat star was sworn in as a reserve police officer at the Doral police department. O’Neal — known globally as Shaq — had applied in September. He went through the application process as well as a background check before his acceptance. He will be getting paid $0, according to police Chief Donald De Lucca, and will be covering his own insurance costs.
The hushed ceremony was held privately at the police station. The mayor, city attorney, city manager and City Council attended.
O’Neal is not new to yellow crime scene tapes. Before Doral, O’Neal served as a reserve cop at Port of Los Angeles police department; the Miami Beach Police Department, Tempe Police Department in Arizona, and the Golden Beach police department.
During his time in Miami, he also traveled back and forth to Virginia, where he worked on the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program.
O’Neal, 43, considers policing a calling. Two of his uncles were police officers. He was also raised by his stepfather, who was an Army sergeant. Since he was a teen, he’s been interested in law enforcement.
In Doral, O’Neal will mostly be doing community work in which he will serve as a role model for kids, De Lucca said. He will be commuting from his homes in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
“I want them to be be able to say: ‘If Mr. O’Neal can do it, I can do it,’” he said.
His ultimate goal is to be a police chief or sheriff in Florida. “When it’s all said and done ... in either Orange County, Dade County or Broward. But, I have to work from the ground up first.”
So why Doral? O’Neal credits Chief De Lucca.
“He’s a great leader. I’m learning from him, watching him. He’s a good friend of mine, and in order to become a great leader, you have to master their style and then create your own style.”
De Lucca served as police chief of Miami Beach and of Golden Beach while Shaq was a reserve officer.
O’Neal dubbed his buddy “the Shaq of all chiefs.”
De Lucca’s response was modest.
“We’re honored to have him as part of our team,” he said. “He’s a role model for today’s youth; he believes in the nobility of our profession.”
Right now, the Doral police department’s next goal is to figure our how to make uniforms for the 7-foot-1, 324-pound man.
“His shoe size is huge, but nobody knows the exact number,” said senior executive assistant to the chief, Carlos Arango, chuckling. “At some point we’ll get him an official polo shirt, but for now he has his badge.”
THE TALE OF THE TAPE
Shaq served as a reserve officer at many points in his NBA career. Here is a timeline:
▪ Los Angeles Lakers: He was a second-class reserve officer for the Port of Los Angeles police department.
▪ During the 2000 offseason: He rode along with the Orange County Sheriff's Office in Florida.
▪ Miami Heat: He was a reserve officer in the Miami Beach Police Department.
▪ Phoenix Suns: He was a reserve officer with the Tempe Police Department.
▪ After retiring from basketball: He joined the Golden Beach police as a reserve officer.