News Column

Steven Seagal Sworn in as Sheriff's Deputy

Jan. 24, 2013

Daniel Borunda, El Paso Times, Texas

Steven Seagal
Steven Seagal

Like any good action-movie hero, he's back.

Steven Seagal, who has played no-nonsense tough guys in dozens of movies, has been sworn in as a sheriff's deputy in Dona Ana County in Southern New Mexico.

The 60-year-old martial arts specialist was sworn in by Sheriff Todd Garrison during a brief ceremony Tuesday at sheriff's headquarters in Las Cruces.

The deputization took place more than a year after Seagal was named a part-time deputy in sparsely populated Hudspeth County in far West Texas.

"This was really all part of the plan (when Seagal was deputized in Hudspeth County) to get him seated in more than one border county. It made a lot of sense to be in Dona Ana County," said Gary "Rusty" Fleming, spokes man

for the Hudspeth County Sheriff's Office.

Fleming said Seagal has done some long-distance consulting but has yet to return to Hudspeth County after he was deputized.

Hudspeth County, which is east of El Paso, is best known for the drug busts of Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg and other celebrities at a Border Patrol checkpoint in Sierra Blanca.

Tuesday, Seagal filled paperwork, took part in firearms qualifications and was deputized in Dona Ana County.

Seagal -- who starred in movies such as "Machete," "Out for Justice" and "Under Siege" -- could not be reached for comment. He left town after dinner.

The Associated Press reports that Seagal, Danny Trejo and Ving Rhames are in the Albuquerque area filming the

movie "Force of Execution."

Dona Ana County sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Jameson said that Seagal is a considered a reserve officer. According to New Mexico law, he can carry out police work only while with a commissioned peace officer. She said Seagal is expected to take part in border security training in the coming months.

"Mr. Seagal has spent decades in law enforcement training, and has a special interest in the unique challenges our department faces along the border," Undersheriff Eddie Lerma said in a statement. "He has been an asset to other border communities, where he believes public safety is of particular concern. We are honored to bring that experience to this department as well."

A spokeswoman said the El Paso County Sheriff's Office has no plans for deputizing Seagal despite what neighboring counties have done.

Seagal was a reserve deputy for more than 20 years with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana. His work as a deputy was filmed in the reality series "Steven Seagal: Lawman" on the A&E cable network.

Seagal has also been a deputy for Arizona's controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County.

Last year, the Arizona Republic newspaper reported that a Phoenix man filed a lawsuit against Seagal and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office after a tank knocked down a wall during a SWAT raid linked to a cockfighting investigation.

The plaintiff claims the 2011 raid was orchestrated for the benefit of Seagal's TV show. The episode did not air.

Fleming, who is also a filmmaker, said that Seagal's deputization is not a publicity stunt or part of a TV show. Seagal does make an appearance in Fleming's coming anti-drug film "Operation Detour," which is scheduled to premiere in El Paso next month.

Fleming, who accompanied Seagal at the swearing-in ceremony in New Mexico, said the aikido martial arts expert -- which involves holds and circular movements against an opponent -- has a genuine interest in police work on the border.

"It goes back to the fact that Steven sees the same thing we see in law enforcement -- that the border is the weakest link in the chain in our national security system," Fleming said.

"In regards to the sheriff's office, he offers an aspect of training, consulting and tactical experience that we welcome," Fleming said. "Any kind of edge we can get over the cartels and the gangs that we deal with, we will take it."



Source: (c)2013 El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) Distributed by MCT Information Services