‘There shouldn’t be a gap:’ Shaquille O’Neal wants better relationship between community and police

On Thursday, Channel 2 got new insight into what a local sheriff’s office is doing to improve the relationship between the community and law enforcement.

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NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal is the director of community relations for the Henry County Sheriff’s Office.

Channel 2′s Fred Blankenship sat down with O’Neal for an exclusive interview.

“In this community, we want to show that we understand; we love you; we need you; we want to have a relationship,” O’Neal said.


Now retired from the NBA, O’Neal said he is on a new mission to promote love and respect, a central theme in his role with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office.

“The true definition of the job is to bring the community and law enforcement closer together in this community here. There’s a gap. There shouldn’t be a gap,” O’Neal said.

The relationship between the police and the community is getting better, O’Neal said, but needs to improve even more.

“I think once we get back to understanding and believing in the concept of respect, that eliminates a lot of the problems,” he said.

Blankenship asked, “What can law enforcement do to show that respect to people in communities that are going through so much right now?”

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“You have to know how to respect them also,” O’Neal answered. “It’s all about communications. If you come up to me hard and I’m hard, things going to get hard, but if I’m hard and you come up to me soft, it’ll soften me up. ‘Excuse me brother, can I talk to you? Yeah.’”

Serving as a reserve officer and in honorary positions throughout the country, O’Neal now has been a part of law enforcement for more than 20 years, and he comes from a law enforcement family.

For his job in Henry County, he is paid one dollar annually. He said he hopes he can help make a positive difference.

“It saddens me the community and law enforcement are here just want to bring it right back here just slowly but surely and I think we want to be a model for what other sheriff’s departments are doing,” O’Neal said.