Marine Veteran Becomes First Double Amputee to Become a Police Officer

Lance Corporal Matias Ferreira was on a mission in Liberate, a small town in Afghanistan, which had been overrun by the Taliban. After leading his fellow marines into Musa Qala his life changed forever.

They cleared out a compound, and then came the fateful moment — Ferreira, a machine-gunner, jumped from a rooftop to retrieve some supplies.

He didn’t see the 30-pound bomb concealed in the ground.

His legs were shattered in the blast. Both had to be amputated below the knee.

Ferreira, now a 28-year-old married father who stands on titanium prosthetics, soon fulfills one of his childhood dreams. On Friday, he becomes a Suffolk County police officer.

“I’m just really eager and excited to prove myself to my colleagues in my new job, my new career, that I’m capable of doing the job just as well as somebody with both legs,” Ferreira said in an interview Thursday at the police academy in Brentwood. “I don’t think the prosthetics hinder me in any way.”

Ferreira is believed to be one of the nation’s first double amputees to serve as a fully active police officer, said Suffolk Assistant Commissioner Justin Meyers, a department spokesman.

Police Commissioner Timothy Sini called Ferreira “the quintessential example of what we’re looking for” in a cop.

“This is someone who served our nation, paid a significant sacrifice, and is now able to overcome adversity in a tremendous way,” Sini said. “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.”

Ferreira just completed 29 weeks of training. He’ll drive a police car like any other officer and is scheduled to start patrolling the First Precinct in West Babylon next week.

There were no shortcuts for the recruit with artificial feet. He passed all the physical demands for someone in his age category, running a mile and a half within the required 12 minutes, 29 seconds (his personal best is 11 minutes), and doing 38 sit-ups and 29 push-ups.

Ferreira used humor to break the ice about his prosthetics.

“A lot of guys are like, ‘What happens if one of your legs break?’ ” he 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.’ ”

Fellow recruits were supportive, urging him on. In a sign of respect, they made him class president.

This is something that people need to read. Today, an inspiring story is considered to be something about emotional abuse or somebody coming out of the closet or overcoming diversity. We've completely forgotten about what it means to be a hero. It doesn't even have to be somebody who saves kids from a burning school bus. It can simply be a veteran refusing to let a disability hold him back. That's what a hero is.





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