Perseverance – One Officer’s Story of Success When the Odds Were All But in His Favor

One of the greatest aspects of this job is that we have the opportunity, as police officers, to meet numerous different people, from what seems like every background imaginable. A few years back, I had the absolute blessing of meeting Constable David Geiger with the Oxford Township Police Department in Ohio. Ever since meeting him, David and I have kept on and off contact as I entered the police force. Not only is David full of useful information and encouraging words, but he has a story of perseverance unlike any I have encountered before. You see, David has a physical disability, something he refers to, politely, as a Dif-Ability, that he sustained during a motorcycle accident in 2003. According to David’s website, http://www.Dif-Ability.com, he always wanted to be a police officer as a young man. He states he had an insatiable desire to help people. If you take David’s story from start to end, you will see the true definition of a wolf hunter. David, despite the odds being stacked completely against him, followed his heart. He was created by God with the blood of a police officer, and a police officer he will forever be.

David allowed me the unique opportunity to ask him several questions relating to his Dif-Ability and his experiences in law enforcement since sustaining his injury. I suggest, to all, you read between the lines of his responses and see true grit and determination in this officer.

  • David, please briefly explain your injury and how you sustained it.
  • August 8, 2003 I was involved in motorcycle accident. I landed on top of a guard rail on my back, forcing my right arm behind me violently. This violent movement severed 3 of my brachial plexus nerves and stretched out the 4th in my right shoulder completely paralyzing the arm.
  • What were your biggest difficulties directly after your injury?
  • I was in a medically induced coma for approximately 4 weeks after the accident. When I awoke I had tubes and wires coming from every part of my body. All my muscles had weakened and I had to build them back up to even start walking again.
  • What was the typical response from departments, after your injury, regarding your employment as a police officer?
  • I was on medical leave from the department I was with and eventually moved to the auxiliary force. After years of surgeries, physical and occupational therapy I was ready to be reclaim my position with the police department. The administration along with human resources decided that since I was unable to shoot weak handed I would not be reinstated as a Police Corporal.
     
    When applying with new departments I found that I wasn’t being hired. I can only speculate as to why. Only one department of about 70 admitted it was due to my arm.  I would make it to an interview then stop hearing from them or get a letter simply stating that the position was filled.  
     
    During interviews I would openly talk about my dif-ability and my ability to perform every function of a police officer. However, simply telling them was not getting the results I wanted. That’s why I made the video, so they could see me in action and realize that I’m not a liability but an asset.
  • How did you overcome the difficulties that your injury caused?
  • Will, determination and gym memberships. I started slow. I never recovered a grip in my hand so I had to think of ways to work my right arm out. I started by lying on my back under the coffee table and pushing it up off the floor on one side. Once that got easy I added books on top of the table to add more resistance, then push-ups. I eventually starting going to the gym. I bought a Velcro D ring strap that is usually for wrapping around ankles and wrapped it around my right wrist and lifted cable weights with it. I spent 5 days a week at the gym without fail.
     
    In addition to the gym I start training in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The reason was twofold, fitness and to prove to myself that I could defend myself or others in a physical confrontation if presented with one as a police officer. I was sparring with world-class athletes and I was holding my own!
     
    Any issue that I thought an administration would have with my dif-ability; handcuffing, firearms, first aid etc. I made sure I trained, and or, became an instructor in that particular aspect.  I had to be creative in finding effective ways to do complex tasks and I succeeded.
  • What is your biggest accomplishment since your injury?
  • Surviving my accident in the first place tops the list but without question it is being hired at Oxford Township Police Department. Convincing an administration wasn’t easy. I offered multiple times at interviews to perform demonstrations or to be given a functional capacity test, most declined. Explaining that I would be on probation if hired and could be let go if I failed any part of the field training officer’s assessment. I have since been promoted as a field training officer myself; so not only am I trusted to do police work, I’m trusted to train other officers.
  • What is the biggest obstacle you face in your every day job? How do overcome that obstacle?
  • I really don’t have any obstacles. Sure, there are some things that take me a little longer to complete like processing a crime scene but those are things that shouldn’t be rushed in the first place.
  • If you had one piece of advice to give to current and future police officers, what would it be?
  • Failing at something doesn’t make you a failure, quitting does. Excuses get you nowhere. Go after your goals with steadfast determination and with as much vigor as you would your next breath if you were drowning. 
Police work is one of the most technically demanding jobs out there. We must have fine motor skill, and the physical ability to ward off attack, radio for help, and draw a weapon, sometimes within what seems like a few seconds. With the ability to fully use only one of his arms, David has completely adapted his tactics and training to ensure he is able to do everything any other police officer can do, and arguably better. David refuses to use the term disability and has since coined the term Dif-Ability, stating that he can do everything you and I can do as an officer, just differently. David takes pride in our profession, he is a model every officer should follow, he is the definition of the Thin Blue Line. If I were in trouble and heard David over the radio, I would be more than comforted by the fact that I had a true wolf hunter backing me up. David is battle proven, has the heart of a lion and the determination unlike anyone I have ever encountered thus far. He is the definition of perseverance.
David, I thank you for your time, your dedication to this life style and, on behalf of police officers and the public alike, I thank you for your courage, commitment and bravery in the face of adversity. You were an inspiration to me in pursuing this career and I am sure you have been an inspiration to many others. Your story is one every officer should learn; I know I will never forget it.
Note: Please visit Constable David Geiger’s website at www.Dif-Ability.com to learn more about his story and his life since his injury.