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.