Celebrity Police Officers

A good many famous names got their starts walking the beat

2nd Annual California Gold Star Awards
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People from all walks of life work in law enforcement. Even some celebrities hear the calling to walk the thin blue line, and there have been plenty of famous people who were or are police officers. Some got their start walking a beat, but other celebrity cops made it a point to give back after they made it big.

Shaquille O'Neal

Known far and wide for his prowess on the basketball court, this former NBA superstar is also making a name for himself on the street as a crime fighter. Shaq has served as a reserve officer for the Los Angeles Port Police, as well as the Miami Beach Police Department. He's now serving as a reserve officer with the Golden Beach Police in South Florida.

So dedicated to the law enforcement profession is he that O'Neal has completed at least two police academies in two different states. The big guy has also been named an honorary deputy U.S. Marshal.

Erik Estrada

Estrada played a California Highway Patrol officer on "CHiPs," then he went on to serve in law enforcement for real, first as a deputy sheriff in Bedford County, Virginia beginning in 2009. Then he signed on as a reserve officer with the St. Anthony Police Department in Idaho in 2016. He was also a reserve officer in Muncie, Indiana.

As a child, he always wanted to be a police officer, but he ended up going into acting instead...at least at first.

David Zayas

David Zayas took the opposite approach. He was a cop first with the NYPD—for 15 years—then he went into acting, appearing in numerous television shows including "Gotham," "Oz," and "Dexter." He began attending acting school while he was still on the streets, and he's said that he enjoyed the midnight shift because it allowed him some down time to run his lines.

When he broke into acting, one of Zayas' first roles was as a police officer.

Eddie Money

Before he was able to get his hands on his "Two Tickets to Paradise," this rock and roll icon of the 1970s and 1980s worked with the boys in blue as a member of New York's finest. Before changing his name to help his rock career along, Officer Edward Mahoney followed in the footsteps of his father and brother and served as a police officer with the famed NYPD.

Dan Mahoney

Not to be outdone by his rock star relative, Eddie Money's older brother Dan did 20 years with the New York Police Department before he retired and became a best-selling author. He's since penned several books, including "Detective First Grade" and "The Protectors." He even served as Yoko Ono's security chief for some extra cash while he was working as a cop.

Ted Nugent

This former Damn Yankee, outspoken political activist, and rock and roll legend is said to also serve as a reserve deputy constable in Texas. Long an advocate for gun rights, Nugent has done work to support DARE programs and other law enforcement-friendly endeavors. It seems that he'd also like a chance to get some criminals in a "Stranglehold."

Steven Seagal

That's right, Steven Seagal. Or, more accurately, Deputy Steven Seagal of the Jefferson Parrish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana. This movie star and martial arts expert has been working with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff since the 1980s. He even appeared in a reality show that chronicled his crime fighting in the short-lived television series, "Steven Seagal: Lawman."

Chuck Norris

Among the hundreds of amazing facts about Chuck Norris, legend has it that this martial arts superstar also served as a reserve police officer or deputy in Texas. The mayor of the town he was said to have served in—Terrell—claims there's no record of Norris' service...perhaps due to his Ninja skills.

Even if he never served as a civilian police officer, it's a fact that Norris served as a military police officer before breaking in as an actor.

Elvis Presley

The King of Rock and Roll was a famous fan of law enforcement. He collected badges and police equipment and was an avid admirer of the police, particularly federal special agents. Elvis met with President Richard Nixon in 1970, professing a disdain for the hippie drug culture. President Nixon made him an honorary drug enforcement agent.

Ironically, Elvis died of a prescription drug overdose just seven years later.

Dennis Farina

You would recognize Farina from any of his 74 acting credits, including appearances in "Saving Private Ryan," "Get Shorty," "Out of Sight," and "Midnight Run." You probably saw him on episodes of "Law and Order" and "Miami Vice" as well.

What you might not know is that before he hit the big screen, Farina was hitting the streets of Chicago as a police officer and a detective for 18 years.

Kam Fong Chun

This "Hawaii 5-0" detective didn't just play a cop on TV. He was one in real life, too. Before he spent 10 years playing a crack detective with the fictitious Hawaii State Police unit, Kam Fong Chun spent 16 years as a police officer with the Honolulu Police Department.

Herb Fame

Born Herbert Feemster, the male half of the Peaches & Herb duo has done stints as a security guard and a police officer. After finding fast fame in the 1970s for hits like "Reunited (And It Feels So Good)," Herb took a break from show business and worked as Washington, D.C. cop. Although he continued to make music, Herb is working today as a deputized court security officer with the U.S. Marshals.

Ken Osmond

Anyone who ever saw an episode of "Leave It to Beaver" might find it hard to believe that the actor who played smart-mouthed suck-up Eddie Haskell went on to become a police hero, but Ken Osmond did just that. After his stint with "the Beave," Osmond became a Los Angeles Police Officer. He served as a motorman and a vice officer.

He was shot in the line of duty in 1980 while chasing a suspect. Saved by his vest, Osmond reprised the role of Eddie Haskell in a revival of the "Leave It to Beaver" franchise in the early '80s.

Dan Akroyd

While he might not have had full police powers, this Blues Brother and "Saturday Night Live" alum, "Ghostbusters" star, and all around famous funny man did hold an honorary police commission. In fact, Akroyd served as an honorary commander with the Harahan Police Department in Louisiana and is credited with doing a lot to support that agency.

James Woods

This accomplished actor's breakout role was that of Greg Powell in "The Onion Field." His character kidnapped two cops and killed one. But Woods serves as a ​reserve officer with the LAPD in real life. Shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, he reported what he believed to be suspicious behavior during a flight and may have thwarted another attack.

Juston McKinney

Comedian and actor Juston McKinney served as a deputy sheriff in rural Maine before he found his funny. He's since turned in his badge and gun and has starred in numerous comedy specials, and he had roles in "The Zookeeper" and "Here Comes the Boom" as well.

Barney Martin

Perhaps best known for playing Jerry Seinfeld's dad Morty, this long-time star of stage and screen also appeared in Mel Brooks' "Producers," and he served as a stand-in for Jackie Gleason in "The Honeymooners." He also starred in several musical productions. Martin served as New York City Police Officer for 20 years before he got his acting chops.

Gene Roddenberry

Before boldly going where no man had gone before, the creator of one of the most iconic television and film franchises of all times spent seven years working in the newspaper unit as an LAPD officer. He honed his screenwriting skills cleaning up stories for fellow officers to submit to the popular television show "Dragnet." After finding some success writing for television, Roddenberry launched his starship and created "Star Trek."

Lou Ferrigno

Criminals beware. The Hulk has a badge.

Although he's most famous for portraying Dr. Bruce Banner's alter ego on television, Lou Ferrigno was sworn in as a full reserve deputy with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office in 2012 after having served as a Los Angeles County reserve deputy since 2006. The "King of Queens" actor and prolific bodybuilder wasn't cut any breaks, either. He underwent a full background investigation, including psychological testing and a polygraph exam, in order to follow in his police lieutenant father's footsteps.

Just don't make him angry. You won't like him when he's angry.

Steve Wilkos

Talk show host Steve Wilkos was a police officer in Chicago when he was offered a side gig working the security detail for "The Jerry Springer Show." The rest is history.

Wilkos also served in the U.S. Marine Corps, joining up right after high school, then applying to the Chicago P.D. He credits both stints with instilling in him the drive and confidence to successfully chase his dream.

There seems to be a bit of a trend here. All you aspiring actors and actresses might want to consider getting your start in law enforcement or perhaps another criminal justice career. You'll gain valuable experience and insights that will serve you well in any job.