Officer Matias Ferreira is celebrating a dream come true today.
After 29 weeks of training, the 28-year-old resident of Wantagh, New York, graduated today from the Suffolk County Police Academy as its first fully active-duty double-amputee police officer. The academy said it believed that Ferreira was also the first in the U.S. as well.
“It’s pretty incredible,” Ferreira told ABC News after the graduation ceremony. “I’m truly honored to be part of the department. When I first got on, I didn’t know how good I would do — maybe having some self-doubts in the beginning — but I had a very supportive staff, very supportive recruit class. Everybody kept pushing me through.”
He credited his wife, Tiffany; his daughter, Tianna; and family and friends with helping him reach the finish line. He finished as the class president as well as the class speaker.
“The hand we’re dealt in life, we just have to take it, adapt and overcome.”
“It’s really hard to fail at something when somebody’s pushing you the whole way. … They won’t let you quit so you can’t quit on yourself,” he said.
Ferreira was born in Uruguay and moved to the U.S. when he was 6 years old. He grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and then joined the Marines. In 2011, however, while serving in Afghanistan, he stepped on an improvised explosive device. He lost both legs below the knees.
After rehabilitation, Ferreira joined an all-amputee softball team that plays across the U.S.
He said today that he was eager to hit the streets as a police officer and see what the future holds for him and his family.
“The hand we’re dealt in life, we just have to take it, adapt and overcome so that’s what I figured I would do,” he said. “Once you lose a limb, you think that your life is going to completely change. … It’s really up to you. You know, the technology that’s coming out and with a good attitude — you combine those two — you can do whatever you want.”