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Can I still be an officer if I’ve had back surgery?

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  • Can I still be an officer if I’ve had back surgery?

    I’ve had spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis. I haven’t had complications but it still disqualified me from the army. Can I become a police officer? Do you know anyone that also has?

  • #2
    Can you become an officer? Possibly. It really depends on the department and your specific circumstances.

    Can you sit in a cruiser for extended periods? Stand, say directing traffic or controlling access to a crime scene, for extended periods? Can you wear a duty belt and other equipment weighing 15-20 lbs without it aggravating your back? Walk, run, twist, turn, or wrestle with a resistant suspect normally with that same equipment on?

    Back problems are already common in LE because of the equipment we wear, so pre-existing back problems will likely be looked at closely in a pre-employment physical. You may want to discuss this with your physician and be honest with yourself about what your physical limits are.
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
    -Friedrich Nietzsche

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    • #3
      The possibilities do not look good.

      Read this https://post.ca.gov/portals/0/post_d...al/Musculo.pdf and pay special attention to the section on spinal fusion and scoliosis. While these are California's standards, the principles behind them do not stop at the state line and are fairly well recognized by most law enforcement agencies.

      It would be better if you printed these standards out, gave them to your ortho doctor and asked him to review them. Ask him to pretend his employed by the police department as their physician and is being paid to look out for their interests and not yours. Finally, ask him if as the police department's doctor, he would approve you for employment based on these standards, knowing what he does about your condition. That will give you a ballpark idea as to where you stand.

      The issue here is that a significant number of costly work related injuries and premature disability retirements in law enforcement are the result of on the job back injuries. To complicate matters, most state's workers compensations laws state that even if one has a preexisting injury, if it is exacerbated on the job, the employer becomes financially responsible to care for that injury for the rest of employee's life. Considering that you already bring so many back issues with your when hired, care for your entire back for the rest of your life is an unreasonable burden for them to inherit. You would be coming into this profession with a condition that makes you even more susceptible to this type of injury, making you not only a financial liability to whoever employs you, but a safety hazard to your coworkers and the public you are supposed to protect. In short, they will be hiring damaged goods.
      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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      • #4
        Depends on the agency. Mine requires a back x-ray as part of the hiring process so for us you'd probably be a DQ.

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