Herschel Walker said he worked in law enforcement — he didn’t

Herschel Walker, now a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, has said on numerous occasions that he was a law enforcement officer. He has apparently not made that false claim since declaring his candidacy. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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Herschel Walker, now a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, has said on numerous occasions that he was a law enforcement officer. He has apparently not made that false claim since declaring his candidacy. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

In September 2019, Herschel Walker stood in front of an auditorium of soldiers in combat fatigues at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The motivational talk was, by now, familiar; Walker traced the obstacles he had overcome, including his struggle with mental health. But more than 30 minutes into the speech, Walker wandered off topic.

“I worked for law enforcement, y’all didn’t know that either?” he said. “I spent time at Quantico at the FBI training school. Y’all didn’t know I was an agent?”

It wasn’t the first time Walker said he was in law enforcement, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found while reviewing dozens of speeches and motivational talks by Walker that were posted online.

”I work with the Cobb County Police Department, and I’ve been in criminal justice all my life,” he said in 2017.

In 2000, he told Irving, Texas, police that he was “a certified peace officer,” according to a police report.

And he has used his alleged law enforcement ties to justify why he has had a gun, including a 2001 incident when he pursued a man who was late delivering a car.

“I worked in law enforcement, so I had a gun. I put this gun in my holster and I said, ‘I’m gonna kill this dude,’ ” he said at a 2013 suicide prevention event for the U.S. Army.

Walker has said that incident spurred him to seek mental health treatment.

The claims, which appear to have halted since he entered the U.S. Senate race, aren’t true.

Asked about the claims by the AJC, a Walker campaign spokeswoman said he majored in criminal justice at the University of Georgia and “has supported and worked with law enforcement for years, including speaking to police about mental health, leading women’s self-defense training, participating in the FBI Academy at Quantico.”

She added he was an honorary deputy in Cobb County along with three other Georgia counties but did not specify which ones.

The Cobb County Police Department said it had no record of involvement with Walker. The Cobb Sheriff’s Office could not say whether he was an honorary deputy.

But former DeKalb County District Attorney J. Tom Morgan said even if he was, that doesn’t mean a lot.

”It gives you absolutely no law enforcement authority,” he said. “It’s like a junior ranger badge.”

Morgan said that many sheriffs in Georgia stopped handing out such honors amid fears that people would use the paperwork to impersonate police officers, a felony in Georgia.

Walker’s FBI claim is a little tougher to pin down. Walker is not an agent — that would require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and Walker left UGA before earning his degree. Asked to clarify, the Walker campaign provided Associated Press stories from 1989 — as Walker was retiring from pro football — where he said that he spent a week at an FBI school in Quantico, Va.

”They had an obstacle course and you shoot at targets to protect your partner as you advanced up the course,” he told the AP. “I had fun. There were about 200 recruits there.”

The FBI did not respond when asked to verify the account.

For all Walker’s stated support of law enforcement, the relationship has not always been smooth. In September 2001, he threatened a shootout with cops responding to a domestic disturbance at his Texas home, according to a police report.