Bedford County Sheriff's Office cuts ties with O'Neal

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By John Barnhart

The relationship between Shaquille O'Neal and the Bedford County Sheriff's Office has been severed as the result of a rap with obscene lyrics that O'Neal performed. The rap was performed in a New York City nightclub and has made its rounds on Internet video sites.

O'Neal has been a reserve deputy for the Sheriff's Office for several years and made public service announcements for the federal Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) program. Brown said he was ICAC's first celebrity endorsement and that he also recruited other celebrities, including Miss America to get involved.

"Probably more so than anybody, he embarrassed himself," Sheriff Mike Brown commented.

Brown said that O'Neal's language in the rap was inappropriate and this left him with no choice but to sever the ties between the Sheriff's Office and O'Neal. O'Neal's likeness will no longer be used on Blue Ridge Thunder's Web site or literature. The public service announcements he made have been withdrawn. Brown also noted that all equipment O'Neal used while in Bedford will be returned to the Sheriff's Office including a badge signifying his association with ICAC. He said that the language in the rap made him a bad role model.

"I hope everybody remembers the good things he did," Brown said.

"It [the decision] was one of the hardest we had to make, but we had to make it," Sheriff Brown concluded.