Deputy Shaquille O’Neal – Maybe?
Former NBA Superstar Could become a Lake County Deputy
There has been a great deal of interest and speculation in regards to Shaquille O’Neal’s participation with the Sandy Carpenter for Sheriff Campaign in Lake County, Florida. Over the last nine months, Shaq has been seen at numerous campaign events with the Lake County resident and Orange County Sheriff’s Department Captain, Sandy Carpenter who is seeking the Republican nomination for Sheriff on August 14, 2012. Supporters of the current Sheriff, Gary Borders, have quietly been trying to make Shaq an issue in the campaign by decrying his celebrity and link to Lake County.
Last week, The Right Side of the Lake reached out to the Sandy Carpenter for Sheriff Campaign to see if we could ask Shaq some tough questions about his role in the campaign and possible Sheriff Carpenter administration. We are pleased to report that Shaq agreed to answer our tough questions; and, in his style, he minces very few words.
Q: Over the last six months, you have made many trips to Lake County in support of Sandy Carpenter for Lake County Sheriff. How do you know Sandy Carpenter?
Shaq: We met 20 years ago when I played for the Orlando Magic. A teammate had given me an Akita that needed obedience training and Sandy spent much of his career supervising the Orange County Sheriff’s Department canine unit. Over the years, we became close friends and Sandy introduced me to a career in law enforcement.
Q: Is your support for Sandy Carpenter real or is it a publicity stunt?
Shaq: I am busier and more overwhelmed today with requests and demands on my time than I was during my playing career. The last thing I have time for is publicity stunts.
Q: Why do you think Sandy Carpenter should be elected Sheriff for Lake County?
Shaq: During the last two decades I have had the opportunity to work for law enforcement agencies from Miami to Los Angeles. I’ve accompanied Sandy on street patrol many times and have seen him deal with people in all kinds of challenging situations. Sandy possesses a rare combination of command presence, instinctive leadership skills and a passion for helping people.
Q: Sandy Carpenter has told various groups that if he is elected that you agreed to become a special Lake County Sheriff’s deputy for a salary of $1 per year. What are your qualifications and experience for being a Lake County Sheriff’s deputy?
Shaq: I have served in various capacities for law enforcement agencies while playing professional basketball in Orlando, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, Cleveland and Boston. This includes becoming a sworn peace officer, working as a detective to investigate Internet crimes against children, volunteering to raise money for police programs benefitting inner-city youths and attending police training academies.
Q: What can Deputy Shaquille O’Neal offer to the Lake County Sheriff’s department and the citizens of Lake County?
Shaq: I will bring the same level of commitment and dedication to serving the people of Lake County that I did as a law enforcement officer in communities across this great nation. Because of the way I was raised, I know how to deal effectively with kids who are fighting to stay out of trouble and stay in school. These are things that are important to me because I know they enhance a child’s ability to lead a productive life.
Q: How do you answer critics from Sandy Carpenter’s opponents who say you are an outsider?
Shaq: I don’t respond to ignorance. I own a business in Lake County. I built a home for my mother to reside in Lake County. I have participated in fundraising events to help the underprivileged and less fortunate in Lake County. The people of Lake County know my record of involvement in the community.
Q: Through your Shaq-A-Claus program this Christmas, you saw firsthand the terrible effects of Lake County’s double digit unemployment rate on real families. In your opinion, can a nationally recognized celebrity take a position in public service such as Deputy Sheriff and parlay it for the benefit of all in the community?
Shaq: During the past 20 years, I have pursued positions in law enforcement for one reason and one reason only—to help people in need. If I accept a position in public service in Lake County, I will use my unique powers to continue working with youths. They don’t call me the real Superman for nothin’.
Q: You have the means and opportunity to really do anything in the world you want, but yet you seem to have this calling to serve the public in law enforcement- why?
Shaq: I was raised in a family that regarded law enforcement and the military as a special calling. I’ve learned from watching Sandy and his family over the years become deeply involved in rescue missions and help for the homeless that law enforcement is about much more than making an arrest. It is an honor for me to wear a uniform and a badge to serve people.
Q: Many people say you are a very serious man, and in the first week of May you will be receiving your doctorate in leadership and education from Barry University in Miami. In your view, what makes a person a great leader?
Shaq: A great leader is someone who inspires others to do the right thing.
Q: Do you think Sandy Carpenter has the leadership skills to effectively operate the Lake County Sheriff’s Department?
Shaq: Answered above.
Based on the answers we received from Shaquille O’Neal, we believe that he is sincere in his support of Sandy Carpenter for Sheriff and he is serious about serving the citizens of Lake County as a Deputy Sheriff. Whatever your opinion of Shaquille O’Neal maybe, it appears he has chosen to use his celebrity for good, which is very refreshing in these days. If Carpenter is elected in August, don’t be surprised to see Deputy Shaquille O’Neal patrolling Lake County streets.
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