He's one the most popular action figures in motion picture history, but now martial arts expert Steven Seagal is front and center in another role - that of a law enforcement officer.
The world famous actor is once again assuming top billing in the newly released reality series "Steven Seagal - Lawman: Maricopa County" (The Lost Episodes.)
The series, which begins airing in January on cable TV's Reelz Network, was shot in Arizona in 2011 after Seagal teamed-up with none other than Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Seagal says Arpaio originally enlisted him to train deputies and posse members in both marksmanship and martial arts. According to Seagal, it was match made in heaven. Not only could he further his life long commitment to law enforcement, he also found plenty of fodder for the "Lawman" reality series which was then airing on A&E. The seventh degree black belt holder said working with the controversial Arpaio allowed him to see firsthand the challenges facing authorities as they try and deal with what he believes is the most critical issue facing America today.
"I think our biggest problem is the open border," Seagal said, during a one-on-one interview with ABC15. I think this is a tremendous oversight by our current administration. As Ronald Reagan once said, if we don't have security on our borders, we don't have a country."
When asked about Arpaio's polarizing policies,Seagal defended the controversial sheriff.
"When people ask if Joe Arpaio's a racist, I'm not going to say I don't
think so. I'm going to say
I know he's not a racist. He's not. He doesn't care what nationality you are. He cares if you're a criminal. If somebody murders somebody we go and arrest them. If someone robs a bank we go and arrest them. We don't care if they're Mexican, Irish, French, German or Chinese. We don't care. We really don't."
While Seagal took part in a number of MCSO busts not everything went as planned. After a high profile raid on a suspected cartel member's home, critics slammed Seagal and Arpaio, saying the duo staged the event just for the sake of the cameras. Dozens of SWAT officers took part in the operation, which resulted in a single arrest for organized cockfighting.
Seagal maintains the show of force, including the use of a small armored car, was not over the top, but was the result of an abundance of caution.
"When we have intel like that we don't go with just me and my partner," Seagal said. "We go with SWAT just to make sure nobody gets hurt."
Two years after the raid (and a failed lawsuit by the suspect convicted of felony cockfighting) Seagal has made Arizona his home. He still feels strongly about about immigration issues and says he's considering a job that could impact the process, especially on a state level.
"Joe Arpaio and I were talking about me running for governor of Arizona. I would remotely consider it, but I have a lot of other responsibilities that may be more important to address."
And as for those who Seagal says hold the most important jobs in Arizona ...
"Police officers, the real ones, are a unique breed. They would give their lives if they had to for people they don't even know. They are my family."