It’s a crime in most places to impersonate a law enforcement officer. One of those places is Georgia, where Herschel Walker is campaigning as the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Raphael Warnock.
Because it’s illegal to impersonate a cop, or, say, a federal agent, in Georgia, it’s worth noting that new reporting from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found multiple instances in which Walker has said publicly that he worked in law enforcement or has law enforcement. He even said it once in a 2013 speech during which he described taking a gun to go after a guy over a car delivery that was late.
The problem is that the local Georgia law enforcement agencies that Walker suggested he worked with, and the FBI, which he also mentioned in a 2019 speech, all said they have no idea what he’s talking about.
From the AJC
So, what’s the real story? Walker’s campaign said he majored in criminal justice during his time at the University of Georgia and was an honorary deputy in Cobb County along with three other Georgia counties. (They did not specify which ones.)
The Cobb County Police Department said they have no record of involvement with Walker. The Cobb sheriff’s office could not immediately say if he was an honorary deputy or not.
But former DeKalb County District Attorney J. Tom Morgan said even if he was, that would give him no law enforcement authority. “It’s like a junior ranger badge,” he said.
Morgan said that many sheriffs in Georgia stopped handing out such honors amid concern that people would use the paperwork to impersonate police officers, a felony in Georgia.
It’s unclear whether Walker may have broken the law by saying he had worked in law enforcement in his speeches. Georgia law says:
“A person who falsely holds himself out as a peace officer or other public officer or employee with intent to mislead another into believing that he is actually such officer commits the offense of impersonating an officer and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, or both.”
A separate section of Georgia’s state code appears as though it could apply to political or other fundraising.
” It shall be unlawful for any person to solicit or accept a fee, consideration, or donation or to offer for sale or to sell advertising as a representative of a peace officer organization or fire service organization or under the guise of representing a peace officer organization or fire service organization unless such person is employed by, is acting pursuant to the authority of, or is a member of such organization.”
Either way, Walker is the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Georgia, and thus represents a party that has moved in lockstep with law enforcement agencies and police unions against potential reform measures aimed at stopping cops from abusing people with impunity. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only Black man in the U.S. Senate besides Warnock, was responsible for sinking bipartisan police reform legislation with the help of the National Sheriffs Association in 2021.
If Walker wins, he’d replace Warnock and join Scott as one of two Black U.S. Senators. Then Senate would then contain one Black man who scuttled desperately needed legal protections from police abuses and another with a history of misrepresenting himself as a cop (or something kinda sorta like one).
The Root has reached out to the Walker campaign for comment and will update if and when we receive a response.