In an interview with WABC-AM on Wednesday, Shaquille O'Neal told the "Curtis and Cosby" show that law enforcement needs more support, and a gun ban isn't the answer for stopping school shootings.
O'Neal, who lives in Florida, said the recent mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland struck a chord with him. He explained, "You know it was a very, very sad incident. Close to my heart. I actually live in Fort Lauderdale. I actually knew the sheriff, called him and told him he did a wonderful job."
ESPN reported that O'Neal proffered, "the government should give law enforcement more money. Give more money, you recruit more people and the guys that are not ready to go on the streets, you put them in front of the schools. You put 'em in front of the schools, you put 'em behind the schools, you put 'em inside the schools, and we need to pass information...I would like to see police officers in schools, inner cities, private schools."
Responding to recent calls for a gun ban in light of the Parkland tragedy, O'Neal said, "There's a lot of these weapons already on the streets. So it's not like, if you say, 'Okay, these weapons are banned,' people are gonna go, 'Oh man, let me turn it in.' That's definitely not going to happen."
The basketball star has long been an advocate for law enforcement, and was granted honorary reserve officer status by several US police departments after completing an (unofficial) police academy program in 2016. Last year, O'Neal announced plans to run for sheriff in 2020, saying he has hopes to restore relationships between citizens and the officers who serve them.
Shaq told Atlanta's WXIA-TV in May 2017, "This is not about politics. This is about bringing people closer together. You know, when I was coming up, people love and respected the police, the deputies. And, I want to be the one to bring that back, especially in the community I serve."
While O'Neal is yet to make any formal announcement of where he might run for sheriff —Shaq holds residency in both Florida and Georgia — he told WXIA he has confidence in a potential campaign, saying "I know how to run the team. My style is going to be to surround myself with guys that have been doing it way longer than I've been doing it, surround myself with smarter people. And I know it'll be successful."