Double Duty – Meet Officer Matias Ferreira – March 2017 Police Academy Graduate

When Matias Ferreira was a young boy growing up in Atlanta, he remembers seeing a sharp-dressed marine. He told his father right then and there that he wanted to be a marine when he grew up.

His dream came true, but it took a turn when, while serving in Afghanistan in 2011, Lance Cpl. Ferreira jumped from a rooftop to retrieve some supplies. He landed on a 30-pound bomb hidden in the ground, which shattered his knees. Both of his legs had to be amputated. Today, Matias is living a new dream: He is believed to be the first full double amputee to be serving as a police officer anywhere in the country. He became a member of the Suffolk County Police Department in March of this year.

Matias feels blessed to have survived his injury. “Because we were on a special mission, there were helicopters in the air, close by. When I was injured, they immediately performed a transfusion, controlled the bleeding, and then took me to a local hospital where they stabilized me.”

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From there, Matias was taken to a hospital in Germany where he had many weeks of surgery in the army medical center and was in rehab for a full year.

“The support and love I received consistently from family and friends kept my spirits up,” he says. “That support combined with the fact that I was grateful to be alive, is all you need to stay positive.”

Several years later, when he had the opportunity to join the Suffolk County Police Academy, “I could not have been happier,” says Matias. “I knew I would make it; I have the emotional, physical and spiritual strength and the fortitude to make it through every test and challenge. I was given a second chance to live my life and do what I love to do. All I ever wanted to do, was to protect our country and to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

In an interview with Newsday, Police Commissioner Timothy Sini called Matias “the quintessential example of what we’re looking for” in a cop. “This is someone who served our country, 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.”

Matias, who was assigned to the First Precinct after graduation, has already been called upon to help in a situation where his experience as an amputee served to help him respond to a crisis.

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“The first month on the job we got a call from the EMTs when a postal worker’s leg was amputated after being stuck between a truck and a car. I helped the victim to be mentally strong. I knew exactly what to do to stop the bleeding and was able to help show him that perseverance and attitude can make all the difference in how one copes with tragedy.”

He recently faced a similar situation being the first responder to an accident where a man suffered a partial leg amputation after his right leg was caught in a wood chipper in West Babylon. Matias explains “although the East Farmingdale Fire Department was there quickly and transported him to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, I was there to start the process and assure the man that he would indeed be fine.  There must be some additional credibility that I provide having lost both my legs and standing there with two prosthetics.”

Serving his country and his community have always been life and work priorities for Matias.

“I truly love community and want to provide all the help that I can,” he says.  “In such a short-time I feel blessed to feel that I am being useful and making a difference.”

One of his main passions is working with young people. “My partner and I both have a strong desire to make a difference and change people’s negative mindsets about law enforcement,” he says.  “We love working with youth. A lot of kids in challenged areas think that police officers are bad people, and we are on a mission to meet them all and let them know otherwise.  As we drive around, we stop when we see kids and invite them to sit in our car and play with the lights. We want everyone to know that we are here to help, and we are paying special attention to young people.”

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Officer Matias Ferreira believes that by reaching out to the community, there will be a positive change in perceptions. “We want to protect people from the bad guys, help everyone to stay safe and to realize their dreams and aspirations. We want to be role models so that everyone is inspired to make the best decisions for their life.”

Despite all he went through, being in active duty, and losing his legs, Matias believes he is a lucky man. “Being a Suffolk County Police Officer is a dream come true. The support and encouragement I received from all my colleagues in law enforcement has been astounding. This job is the opportunity of a second lifetime.”

In addition to the support and comradery of his peers, Matias is blessed to be married to the love of his life who he met while traveling on a competitive softball team in 2012. The Wounded Warrior Amputee softball team was out celebrating a win. He went outside to make a call where he met and greeted an 80-pound Golden Doodle on a retractable leash. On the other end of that leash was the beautiful and future Mrs. Ferreira. They are all living happily and gratefully ever after! And we are benefitting by that fateful meeting because Officer Ferreira is an outstanding addition to Suffolk County as a resident and as an esteemed DOUBLE DUTY Officer.

Welcome, and thank you so very much for your service to our nation and our county.