After Friday’s U.S. Senate debate between Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock, I contextualized Walker’s performance with a single question: Where the hell did he get the police badge he flashed on stage? A prop badge might seem triflin’ to focus on in a debate that covered abortion rights, inflation, rising crime and tax policy but it’s a great proxy for Walker’s ethos. A candidate who swears by his support for law enforcement shouldn’t claim, among many other falsehoods in his campaign, to actually be in law enforcement when he isn’t. That’s not only a lie, but a crime in the state he wants to represent in Washington.
So where did Walker get the badge? He told NBC News’ Kristen Welker in an interview that dropped Monday morning that he was given the badge by the sheriff of Cobb County, Georgia, a suburban Atlanta community which has had plenty of issues with law enforcement along racial lines. Walker also said he has similar badges from counties all over the state.
The GOP nominee for U.S. Senate in Georgia clarified that it was an “honorary badge” and said law enforcement call him “whenever they want me and I have the authority to do things for them to work with them all day.”
Welker pointed out that the National Sheriffs Association “said an honorary badge ‘is for the trophy case’” and asked Walker why he flashed it during the debate.
Walker then said that Cobb County Sheriff Police that gave him the badge “came out and did a press conference with me and said, ‘Herschel has been with us for years he’d been working with us.’”
That bit about leaving ‘honorary’ badges at home can’t be overstated. Handing badges to people who aren’t actual police officers has a tendency to produce tragic results, like in the case of Eric Harris. Harris was a 44-year-old man in 2015 who was running away from police in Tulsa, Oklahoma. One of those cops was actually a 73-year-old insurance executive named Robert Bates, who had been given the status of a “reserve deputy”, which is to say that he was a rich guy who donated a lot of cash and equipment to local sheriffs, so he was handed a badge and allowed to play cops and robbers alongside real law enforcement, except not for pay.
In addition to the badge, Bates was also handed a department-issued Taser and gun, which on the day he encountered Harris, he confused for each other, shooting Harris dead when he claimed he only meant to immobilize him. In 2017, Bates was sentenced to four years in prison for manslaughter, but he only did a year and four months.
Do we need to remind you that Walker has been accused of domestic violence—something frighteningly common among law enforcement officers—including an instance in which he allegedly put a gun to his ex-wife’s head?
If Walker is telling the truth and that badge is actually real, it’s one of the worst gifts law enforcement could have given the people of Georgia.