NEW YORK - At first glance, Matias Ferreira looks like any other Suffolk County police officer.
He dons his uniform and you’d never know underneath it he has two carbon fiber prosthetic legs. That’s because prior to serving his community, Officer Ferreira, a lance corporal with the U.S. Marine Corps. proudly served his country. Months after his first deployment to Afghanistan in 2011, he stepped on a 30-lb explosive device. The impact shattered his legs below the knees and broke his pelvis.
“I’m 21 years old now going what am I going to do with my life? All the things I wanted to do was serve our country and you know be a part of something was going to be taken away from me,” he said.
He spent over a year in rehab at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His tour may have been cut short but he made sure his dream wasn’t. The now 30-year-old is believed to be the first ever double amputee to become a full active duty police officer in the nation. Fox 5 was at his graduation in 2017.
“My mind was my goal and that’s to help and inspire people to keep living their lives and continue to chase their dreams and aspirations,” he said.
Officer Ferreira never wanted special treatment. In fact he wanted to do everything he could do before his injury and prove he was like any other police officer.
“I knew when it came down to it when I went to the street it wasn’t going to be ‘Hold on slow down, give me pity, I’m a double amputee,’ you can’t even tell especially w pants on,” he said. “When it came down to jump over the fence I knew I earned that I did it before in training and when I was putting someone in handcuffs, I knew I was doing the right thing and you know there was an ethical value behind that and a lot of love and passion and pain behind it too bc it took a lot of guts you know to get through the academy.”
Officer Ferreira spent two years on patrol out of the first precinct. In that time he wrote some 200 summonses and made about 50 arrests. Now he’s a community liaison officer - his job is to help bridge the gap between the community and police department.
Among other community groups Officer Ferreira pays special attention to the veterans - especially the older men and women who served in the Vietnam war.
“I know a lot of older veterans don’t talk about their service because they weren’t welcomed home the way we are today and I think it’s a big problem that we still have in our country today. We don’t recognize the veterans that put their life on the line,” he said. “Look around your grandfather was in the military, your grandmother, your dad or mom, brother‘s in the military know the sacrifices that comes. Maybe you don’t get it but try to be understanding.”
Officer Ferreira is one of more than 50 veterans in Suffolk County’s first precinct alone. Each year on Veterans Day he not only reflects on his service but also expresses gratitude for the men and women still fighting today.
“It’s a wonderful thing to have people around you like that to give everything for our community, country, for people we barely even know,” he said.
A life of service worth every sacrifice.
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