Steven Seagal on the set of "Steven Seagal: Lawman." The 60-year-old… (Michael Muller / A&E )
In rural Doña Ana County in southern New Mexico, there’s a new sheriff in town – a deputy sheriff, that is. He’s a tough guy, agile on his feet, and he knows how to handle thugs in the movies and, apparently, in real life.
He’s film action star Steven Seagal.
The 60-year-old actor, producer and martial arts expert is lending star power to the tiny department whose coverage area includes the U.S.-Mexico border. Seagal, who has offered to train officers, was sworn in as a deputy this week by Sheriff Todd Garrison.
Seagal has spent years in law enforcement training and has a special interest in border issues. Department officials say he will offer pointers to the staff in a series of seminars this year.
“We could get this type of training elsewhere, but there’s just something special about Mr. Seagal. Just say his name and people take notice. He’s revered by the members of our department,” Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Kelly Jameson told the Los Angeles Times.
Seagal has been involved in law enforcement in Louisiana and Arizona, where he assists Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's civilian force of volunteers to provide police protection at malls during the holidays, direct traffic at wreck scenes and transport suspected undocumented immigrants to jail.
New Mexico officials say Seagal will be treated like any other instructor.
“He had to give documentation of his training and certification. We just don’t deputize anybody who walks through the door,” Jameson said of Seagal, who in films has played a series of loners working for justice.
In 2008, cable television began taping a show called "Steven Seagal: Lawman," which followed his work as a reserve deputy sheriff in Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish.
Jameson said it was necessary to give Seagal deputy status because he had asked to carry a firearm while working with the department.
“He enjoys the rural environment that our law enforcement officers are required to work in,” Jameson told The Times. “It’s difficult, sometimes treacherous, and always unique, and that seems to be his passion.”
Jameson said she met the actor this week.
“There’s no more pony tail,” she said. “He’s very tall, a lot bigger than I expected, and a complete gentleman. He’s still kind of beefy. He looks like a large wall.”
Speaking of beefy, word is that former Lakers basketball star Shaquille O’Neal is also looking for a deputy’s job.
Could he find a place in Doña Ana County?
“Well, if he could supply the paperwork, I suppose he could,” Jameson said. “Though I don’t think we’re ready to open the floodgates to offer a deputy’s badge to every celebrity on the planet.”