A Marine veteran in New York is set to graduate the Suffolk County Police Academy — becoming one of the nation’s first double amputees to serve as a full-time, active officer.
Former Lance Corporal Matias Ferreira, who stepped on an IED while deployed to Afghanistan, will graduate after completing 29 weeks of training. ABC 7 NY reports he was also elected by his fellow graduates as the class president and will be the class speaker during the ceremony.
“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,” Matias Ferreira told Newsday. “I don’t think the prosthetics hinder me in any way.”
The 28-year-old married father of one completed the program that included sit-ups, push-ups, and a mile-and-a-half run — despite both legs below the knees amputated.
The Suffolk County Police Commissioner says Matias Ferreira was a stellar student on every level.
“This is someone who served our nation, paid a significant sacrifice, and is now able to overcome adversity in a tremendous way,” Commissioner Timothy 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 Matias Ferreira’s training, officials said he practiced taking down aggressive suspects wearing a protective suit. He only fell once — and was able to hop right back up immediately.
“If you have somebody coming at you and attacking you, we didn’t know how that was going to end up, we didn’t know if he would fall and not be able to get back up, so for us it was an important moment,” said Lt. Steven Rohde, commanding officer of the academy’s recruit training section.
Matias Ferreira says being an amputee actually has its advantages.
“A lot of guys are like, ‘What happens if one of your legs break?’ I’m sorry to say, but if I break my leg, I go in the trunk, I put on a new one,” he said. “If you break your leg, you’re out for a couple months, my friend.”
Following the amputations, Matias Ferreira underwent a year of rehabilitation while acclimating to his prosthetic legs, and it didn’t take him long to tap into his Marine ethos.
Ferreira made headlines in October 2015 when he jumped into action and saved a baby from a smoking car following a crash in Howard Beach.
Rohde told Newsday if Matias Ferreira’s performance at the academy is an indication of how he’ll perform on the streets, he’s happy to have him on the force.
“This guy’s the real deal. I wouldn’t want to fight him!”
Matias Ferreira currently lives in Wantagh, N.Y. with his wife and their 2-year-old daughter.
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