A double amputee Marine veteran fulfilled a childhood dream Friday when he was sworn in as a police officer.
Matias Ferreira, 28, is believed to be the first full active duty double amputee officer in the United States. He and 59 other recruits were sworn at the Suffolk County Police Department graduation, the department wrote on Facebook.
Ferreira was in Afghanistan on a tour with the U.S. Marines in 2011 when he stepped on an IED and lost both of his legs below the knees. He also suffered a broken femur and pelvis.
Ferreira told Newsday that he didn’t let the titanium prosthetics hinder him from becoming an officer. He knew he just had to work harder.
“I was given a second chance,” he said. “Not many people survive an IED blast like I did. I don’t want to be one of the guys who just kind of gives up on themselves.”
Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said Ferreira, who was elected president of his recruit class, is the “quintessential example” of what they look for in their officers.
“This is someone who served our nation, paid a significant sacrifice, and is now able to overcome adversity in a tremendous way,” Sini told Newsday. “He’s done a terrific job as a recruit in the academy, both physically, academically and in his leadership to the other recruits, and he’s going to make a fine officer.”
During the 29 weeks of training, Ferreira completed everything his fellow recruits did. He completed his mile and a half within 11 minutes and received no special accommodations, even when police leaders asked if he needed them.
Lt. Steven Rohde said Ferreira’s answer was the same every time: “I don’t need anything, sir.”
“A lot of guys are like, ‘What happens if one of your legs break?’” Ferreira said. “‘I’m sorry to say, but if I break my leg, I go in the trunk, I put on a new one. If you break your leg, you’re out for a couple months, my friend.’”
He is scheduled to begin his patrol duties next week. According to the department, 43 recruits, including Ferreira have military experience.
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