Law Enforcement Careers – Jobs for Physically Disabled

Indeed, there are careers in law enforcement and in the criminal justice field for disabled individuals. I am acquainted with more than a few physically challenged folks employed in law enforcement and criminal justice professions. A number of them have unrivaled skills and can do things within their area of expertise that I probably couldn’t do.

For instance, Sandra is deaf, but she performs very well in an accounting position and doubles as an interpreter for the hearing impaired.

Rob was permanently disabled due to a tragic car accident. He worked in a crime prevention unit and assisted local K-12 schools with drug prevention initiatives until he retired in 2007.

Danny is a friend of mine who works in the IT department of a local police department. He got this job with an online degree in computer science, not criminal justice. He’s an amputee.

I know of a paraplegic attorney that works very closely with the local and state law enforcement agencies.

Mobility impairments are certainly easier to overcome as most public buildings are expected by law to be accessible to the disabled. That includes employees and the general public.

The real deal about physical handicap in the Criminal Justice field

Can disabled people perform in all the lines of work in law enforcement? Surely not.

However, there are still some jobs they can carry out. The organizations which employ such persons have to look outside the box in order to provide its prospective employees and the organization itself with the right fit. I strongly feel that the criminal justice field has expanded their understanding on this matter and is ready to furnish the right working conditions for the handicapped.

From my experience many disabled individuals who work in law enforcement were disabled while in the line of duty, then given an alternate position that took them off the streets.

I still feel that 99.9% of the entry level positions in law enforcement are not going to be readily available to a high school graduate. Additionally, If someone is mentally disabled the chances of them working in a law enforcement position are very slim.

Criminal Justice education – an outstanding tool for the disabled

If you or someone you know is disabled you have to understand that the level of education will certainly increase the chances of a better position within the field. You don’t just get hired because you are disabled, but rather because you can be a contributing member of the team; it’s a mutually beneficial endeavor.

The type of education is not limited to Criminal Justice courses and degree programs. Business, accounting, and computer majors are also very good. If you speak or you studied another desirable foreign language consider yourself “blessed.” Languages like Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and Farsi are a gold mine and will be for many years to come.

Online schools contribute heavily into the development of the human mind. I strongly feel that an online education in Criminal Justice, or anything one likes, can help out those that are less mobile due to a disability. That said, you can study Business, Accounting, Computer Science, and Languages at colleges and universities online, too.

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Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

54 comments… add one
  • Ben Croffut

    I am a fully functional high school student with spina bifida and want to know if I would qualify for law enforcement positions.
    thank you,
    Ben Croffut

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Ben, I don’t know how advanced your Spina Bifida is, but from the standpoint of working as a police officer you probably won’t be able to advance through the application process as the requirements are strict (physical / medical exam). However, this is not the final judgment, but rather my personal experience with certain departments. I would recommend finding out more info from the PD or government agency that you would like to work for about their acceptance of persons with Spina Bifida or similar ailments.

      As mentioned in the post, you may qualify for other law enforcement / criminal justice career positions. If you really like the field so much, I would consider going into the forensic field or computer security.

      Nearly all mid to large scale police departments and government agencies make proper arrangements for people with disabilities. I would keep my head up high if I were you and inquire in-depth about what such arrangements might be.

      I hope this helps and I wish you all the best.

      Radek

  • laura

    hi i have labours amarosa which means I have a hard time seeing the main attributes are a sensitivity to light and no colour vision along with short sight. I desperately want to join the police and have been told i have the potential to do so but I have very little knowledge of tne job positions available to me, so could you give me an idea of the kind of jobs i could successfully do please. thank you, laura

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Laura,

      I don’t know exactly what you mean by joining the police, but I’ll try to cover all the angles here.

      If you would like to become a police officer, or in general terms work on the “front line” I feel that your chances are very slim (at best) at majority of local, county, state, and federal agencies. This is mainly due in part to the danger of the job. Factors like inability to see longer distances and no color vision would disqualify you during the physical exam. Most departments allow corrected vision and some allow certain forms of color blindness, but I don’t know if your condition is correctable and if you are completely color blind (tried Googling “labours amarosa”, but found no info – surprising).

      Some positions which you should consider are listed in the article, but I don’t know if this is exactly what you would like to do.

      The truth is that your eye sight may create potential dangers to you, your partner, and the citizens which you would be sworn to protect. Someone may be a tri-athlete, but if their vision requirements are not met they will not pass through the hiring process.

      The proverbial “desk jobs” are available to you (a police dispatcher), but if this is not what you want to do I recommend personally asking the police department about their requirements and about other police positions available to you. Some feasible positions may include: community liaison officer (works with the community, schools, parks, and etc.) and auxiliary officer. These may be hard to get, if even attainable, but its worth a try to ask.

      • Mark

        I’m 19 trying to get into the law enforcement is there a chance of me being out in the field if I was blind in one eye but I was physically fit and able to see good in my other eye with contacts or glasses?

        • Heather

          Hi Mark. My husband is also blind in one eye and has his Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice. From our experience, there is not a chance for you to be in the field because of the safety risks. We live in California, so Im not sure if its different state to state, but this has been our experience. So far, the only job close to what he wants has been security (and he hates it). So hopefully you (and we) can find something in that field you really love doing.

  • Juan

    Hello I am 38 yr old gentleman who have has Becker muscular dystrophy. I am currently in criminal justice major in my local college and now working on the academic stuff. but i want get off social security and make my own money and live well. Since my muscular dystrophy is getting worse I need to buy more things and remodel the house for my everyday living. I would love to be federal agent or work the state of Texas. I want to be part of the fight on crime. I hope some of you can give some advise. Thank you .

  • Luis mata

    I have only one arm and half of the other, I would like to know if I could still be in Law Inforcement out in the field.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Hi Luis, welcome to the blog.

      In my opinion, you would have nearly impossible chances of becoming a police officer who goes out into the field to “catch bad guys.” As with anything in life, I feel that not everything is impossible and there may be other careers that you may find interesting. These may be careers that are very strongly intertwined with law enforcement but would not necessarily be a “police officer” job. See the careers section of this website for more details. Take care

  • ost guru

    Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so, Excellent post!

    I’m Out! :)

  • Raul Llamas

    Probably a bit too late to expect an answer but my question is:
    I am 19, below the knee amputee, with training I can run medium distances with ease. What do you think my chances of getting a job in law enforcement are? Specifically as a police officer.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Raul,

      It’s never too late… Based on what you told me, I think that it is going to be very hard for you to obtain a job as a law enforcement officer; police officer. However, it is always wise to ask the agency you want to work for about their requirements and limitations for law enforcement spots. That however shouldn’t limit you from working in law enforcement as support personnel, if you desire to do so.

  • Matt

    I am colorblind but want to get into law enforcement…what advice do you have? I am 34 years old and have been a manager in various industries. I have a high school diploma and some college, but did not graduate from college. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks

  • Z.Fox

    Hello,
    I am very interested in seeking a career, perhaps advance with schooling for a career in the Criminal Justice/Law enforcement field. I am unsure specifically what field I’d like to pursue. I can say I have a lot of interest in studying and keeping record of my state’s statutes and laws, as they constantly change or be amended every few years. When I was a younger I was very interested in becoming a peace officer or a Minnesota State trooper on the line. However, I have come to realize that with my Profound hearing loss combined with congenitive vision impairment (look up Usher’s Syndrome Type II, and Retinitis Pigmentosa) would be an automatic disqualifier for jobs on the line.

    Although, I have recently had a Cochlear implant done, I am seeing remarkable improvement in my hearing ( I can hear on phones and CB) to an extent I have never done before, which will help in my future. My vision in daytime is still fairly well for the condition I have, about 70% field of vision and Right 20/40 Left-20/35 uncorrected. The worst aspect of my vision issue, is that I have night blindness due to RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) making me unable to drive at night.

    I would like to see if I can explore other opportunities in the Criminal Justice/Law enforcement field that I could be interested in, that could shift my focus away from front-line jobs, or those that I would disqualify in. I was wondering if there are any good resources that you would suggest for me to look over? Thanks!

    -Zach

  • Robert V.

    Yes I would like to know how I can get a career in Law Enforcement, being that I have MS, and use crutches and at times a wheel chair. I have always been interested in Law Enforcement. I’m 38 years old and looking to attend U.E.I. college-Law Enforcement, but I don’t know what is available for someone in my condition. Will you Please reply, Thank you
    Robert V.

  • Gemini J

    I am going to school online and my field of study is criminal justice. I have a learning Disability and am short being only 4ft 6. Could I get a good job in the field of criminal justice with the disability I have? If so how would I go about it scared no one would hire me due to my limited understanding of directions and commands.

  • Benjamin Loukoumidis

    Hello, my name is Benjamin Loukoumidis. I am 21 y/o and am a disabled Army veteran and really want to work in criminal justice but am concerned I may not be hired as a result of my disability. I developed a degenerative spine disease while in the Army and after a year and a half was medically discharged. My pain is manageable with medication but the physical training would most certainly exacerbate my condition. I am currently pursuing a bachelors in criminal justice and my goal is federal law enforcement/intelligence as I do have a security clearance. I hope my disability can be overlooked if I have a degree. Will this degree really make a difference? If not, what are my other options? Thanks

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Hi Benjamin,

      I think it’s up to the doctors who will carry out the physical to make that assertion, but even if you have a degree, the Federal Govt. will not bend that easy. You must consider that working in a law enforcement capacity, you may be responsible for more than your own well being.

      • Benjamin Loukoumidis

        Understood and agreed, that is part of the reason I took the discharge instead of fighting it. So in that case what are some alternatives? I have been looking into criminology as an alternative and wonder if that would be a more suitable career path. Thanks so much for your help, it is immensely appreciated.

        • Radek M. Gadek

          Benjamin,

          Honestly, it’s hard to tell if Criminology would be a better choice. My reasoning stems from the narrow spectrum of career opportunities once law enforcement is potentially out of the picture. Perhaps, from an academic career point of view, pursuing this field can be more accommodating. Nevertheless, there are opportunities out there, but they are far a few in between… but still worth a try if CJ/Criminology is your passion.

  • ron

    hi, i have a few compressed discs in my back and the doc says i need hip replacement surgery, but after surgery doc says i should be fine,law enforcement is a dream of mine since i was about 30 years old,i`m 40 now, i was forced out of school in the ninth grade by my guardians, and in 2000 i was in school to get my ged and right before i took the test my back went out and i couldn’t walk for three weeks,i still need to get ged, after i`m fixed is it possible for me to join the force?

  • Kenya

    Hi There , My Name Is Shakenya , Im 16 Years Old , Athletic & Going To Be In Sophomore . As Of Right Now , Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice Is My Dream Job . Has Been For About 2 Years Now . Im Thinking About Going To NTID/RIT For The Career Of Criminal Justice . However , I Have A Hearing Loss & I Can Hear Really Well When I Have My Hearing Aid On Which Helps Me To Hear Things Thats Surrounding Me . Not Sure What Percentage Of Hearing Loss I Have . & I Also Can Speak Very Well But I Hate Using It Because Of My Experienced Of Being Picked On . Anyway , My English Teacher Was Telling Me That I Could Become A Detective If I Work Hard For It . & Said That There Is Some Detectives/Policemen That Are A LEO Deaf Out There Somewhere . He Had Me Having My Hopes Up High . Is There Any Chances That I Could Become A Detective ?
    Thanks For Your Time , Kenya .

  • Nikki

    hi my name is nikki, i was born with my bones developed backwards, but i had surgery when i was 8 years old to turn them around. since then i have pain in my legs on a daily bases but as long as i take my pain meds im able to get through my day. i want to know if i will be able to go into any type of law enforcement. i mainly would like to work in some sort of department that works with people who were raped or sexually abused, because it happened to me as a child and id like to help these women get through it.

    • Jose diaz

      Hi,I just had a total hip replacement. It has been a dream to join law enforcement. Would it be possible to become a police officer, after this operation. I live in California and I am looking to join the Los Angeles sheriff department. Thank you for reading my post.

  • Shan Simpson

    I’m a disabled person in a small, rural Wyoming town and am wondering if there are any online work from home jobs I could do as a career in law enforcement? I have an Associates and Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice. Any websites or information you could provide me with would be very helpful and appreciated.

  • Shawn

    Wow. Now this is one subject that really rubs me wrong. I had both legs broken, most ribs, both collar bones, and an arm in an accident as a kid. Since that time I have been heavily involved in the martial arts and can do tons of pushups, chinups, set ups, and can drag 250 pounds of dead weight with no problem. The only thing is, I can’t run. My knees won’t take the jarring. So, I was at a community parade this past weekend. The beer bellys on half the cops I saw and the fact that getting out of their cars seemed a strain for them made me believe they wouldn’t be able to perform nearly as well as I in an emergency situation. Ticks me off that, one time, they managed to get their fat butts around a track within the time allowed and now they are law enforcement officers. I could fight and shoot circles around them, which is the basic reason for the physical requirements in the first place.

  • Matt AQ

    hey there im very interested in law enforcement, supposing i have a BA and graduate from law school and some military background, what would i qualify for…the problem is im red/green color blind. now i cannot see the plate tests HOWEVER my doc said he’d write me a letter because i can still distinguish colors, i just couldn’t see the numbers in pip tests. any info would be good even if its just a desk job…thank you very much.

  • alex

    I am currently a high school student with hearing loss. I have always wanted to go into law enforcement, primarily law enforcement officer, and I was wondering if there is a reasonable chance of me getting a job. I can hear considerably well without a hearing aid and pick out specifics in noisy areas.
    I would like to know the percent chance of my plans working out so I can begin planning colleges, tuition, degrees, and career choices.

  • Sam

    I have a hip replacement so does that mean i won’t be able to be a FBI Profiler? If so how would i be able to start around it? i am graduating high school in 2 years and for sure i want to do this, please help, any advice is welcomed. Thank you!!

  • Chris

    Hi, my name is Chris, and I’m a healthy 20 Y/O male with no physical problems. I would like to join the Police Force as an active-duty officer, but since I’ve been on SSI for mental disabilities for almost a year now, I’m not sure I would be eligible. I was diagnosed with OCD and ADHD, but I’ve made a lot of improvement. My dream would be to one day join a S.W.A.T. unit, and I’m certain I could carry out any of the duties and responsibilities of either position. I can’t find any solid answers on Google, so I’m guessing that it isn’t a “black and white” answer, but any information would be extremely helpful. Also, would having some military experience benefit my chances for a position?

  • Judith

    Hi, I am part deaf in one ear, but I can hear quite fine. I am not disabled. Do to my hearing issue, I was unable to join the military despite being gifted at Marksmanship and excelling all the tests aside from the hearing test for that ear. Am I able to still become an officer if I am part deaf in one ear? Its not like I can’t hear anything. No one I encounter daily knows that I am deaf, that’s how much it doesn’t affect me. Do I still have a chance if I am talented? I am very fit and love everything about being a police officer. Even when I was in grade 5, I excelled at Forensic Science in my science classes that I took.

  • Leo

    I have a moderately severed hearing loss and I am majoring in criminal justice but I would want to know that if I can be an officer, an investigator or a detective, anything that I can be part of any police department. I have a family friend who is in the process of being promote to a captain and have mentioned that I can become an investigator, but an officer cause of their requirements which I understand.

  • Andrea-Kim

    I am a criminal justice major, and although I know there are many career paths I can take, my passion is crime scene investigation and evidence collection. I am epileptic, and although it is pretty well controlled, I know it is not realistic to expect to be a sworn officer, especially since I’m 33. How do I find out what jurisdictions do not require you to be a sworn officer? I have done a lot of research online, but have found few answers.

  • Tyler McNabb

    Hey, im 20 and working towards a criminal justice degree I have epilepsy but it is under control and I am seizure free due to the medicine I take for it. I know I am able to become a police officer but, I was wondering if I would be able to join a SWAT team. I know the work they due is highly dangerous but I am able to function like anyone else with my medicine, I am physically fit above the standard of my peers and I know I am capable to perform the job as SWAT member but I was wondering if my disorder would bar me from testing.

  • Simpson

    Great read.

    I will add, that a lot has to due on location. Some departments (even varying by country) allow greater amounts of disabilities.

    Even for active duty police officers. For instance, colour deficiency is not a contributing factor for the “Western Australian Police Force” or the “Southern Australian Police Force”.

    If you are colour blind and want to be a cop; work hard and you can attain (depends on severity of course..), while I am not a police officer both my parents are. I was born with my elbows dislocated, I only found out when I was 17 (18 now), the pain increases with age and I would need to take Narcotics to be able to divert the pain enough to do things I could easily do when I was younger (workout, play hockey etc).

    I live in Canada, and the only force I would have been interested in would be the RCMP, whom because of my disability I know I would not be accepted in an active duty, or “uniformed policing” role.

    Anyways hope my info helps someone out there!

    – Simpson

    • Radek Gadek

      Hey Simpson, thanks for contributing.

  • Dane Ennes

    I’ve got Spina Bifida. I’m paralyzed from the WAIST down. Would I be able to be a Juvenile Probation Officer, or a Drug Enforcement Agent?? I would really like to know what is needed to become one of those.

  • Jay

    I am blind in one eye. I was born like this so obviously I have lived with it from birth. I have wanted to be a police officer since I saw my dad in uniform when I was a little kid. I have never wanted to do anything else

    I am doing Fugitive Recovery currently and have never had one issue with my eye doing this

    Here in Michigan, to be a police officer, you need to pass MCOLES. Their vision requirement is 20/20 in EACH eye. I emailed the director basically asking am I going to be able to pass even with my condition. His reply is that he cannot say yes or no because of the disability act. What do you you think? I just want as many opinions that I can get

    • James

      Jay,

      Did you ever apply in MI? I see no one replied to you. I am in almost the exact same situation.

      JC

  • Tim

    I’m a 51 year old male and I’m on SSD, I want to get into homeland Security or some kinda law enforcement field. My major disability is my knee I had 13 surgeries on my right knee alone. The reason I’m on SSD is all surgeries total 18, I need to know if theres a possibility at my age and disabilities can I get into this field.

    • Radek Gadek

      Even if your knee wasn’t a problem, at your age, you would be virtually unable to work in law enforcement. Most LE agencies cut off applicants at about 37 years of age.

  • Aric

    Hello my name is Aric, I am pursuing a degree in criminal justice and I wanted to know your view on if I could possibly become a L/E officer. I am a B/K amputee but very blessed with being excessively mobile, I run 3 miles a day and my best time is 7 mins 23 sec mile so far and hoping for that to continue to increase. To my understanding as long as my “disability” does not effect my ability to perform to the fullest while on post on duty and I am able to pass all physical tests etc that they give me I will be able to get on the force. Is that correct?

  • john

    i was born with a clubed foot but i recently had surgery done at the beginning of this yr i can do the physical part of the hiring i work as a correctional officer and was just wondering would i have a chance to fulfill what i have been wanting to do since i was in 5th grade.

  • Kim

    Hello I’m a 30 year old female in a wheelchair I have a bone disease that prevents me from walking but I am completely independent, and can drive as well I have a BA in English and a BS in Criminal Justice. I’ve held constant employment in an unrelated field for the past 6 years. I want to pursue my passion in CJ and need guidance in jobs that I could find here in Oklahoma. Please help!

  • JMarie

    Hi,
    I currently posses an AAS in CJ and a certificate. I am moving on to a four year college next semester to obtain my Bachelors in Criminology. I am/and have been for almost ten years under treatment for various physical cond. such as fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, arthritis, spondylosis, and a few others. I function as well as any one else during any given day with the aid of pain medicine. My dose and frequency is strictly monitored and adjusted by my MD. Will the fact that I am on prescription pain meds eliminate my opportunity to become a Criminologist, or Correctional officer? I am currently scheduled in the morning to test for CO but do not want to waste mine or the departments time if they are going to turn me away due to my medicines I am on. Thank you so much.

  • Robert O,Riley

    Do hearing and vision affect a person from using a gun in self defense as a Homicide defective? I know that there are some jobs in law enforcement / criminal justice where you don’t have to carry a gun while work in law enforcement.

  • Bowman

    Hi, a 16 year old high school student. I have Single-Sided Deafness aka S.S.D. I can hear, but all I hear is mumbling. I want to be a police officer on the front line. I am going into college do major in Criminal Justice and minor in Russian or Spanish. My hearing wouldn’t prevent me from being on the front line, would it? I can hear fine out of my other ear. I’m physical fit and work hard in school.

  • manuel vazquez

    Hello, I am a 24 yr old below the knee amputee. I am in good shape and positive I can pass any physical training, and I just passed the corrections officer exam for the state of NJ would the deny me after the find out of my disability? Thank u very much in advance any advice would be useful.

  • Karen

    My son all his life wanted to be a police officer, unfortunately does not meet the requirements for vision, his best is 20/25 in each eye. Is there anything close to being an officer that doesn’t require the vision 20/20. He has congenital nystagmus so from what I understand surgery cannot correct it. Any suggestions are appreciated, he is devastated as am I. thank you in Advance

  • summer

    So I am currently a sophomore and am in the process of getting my BA in criminal justice. I have ADHD the inattentive type and I have been told to go to the doctor multiple times growing up and lately I have been addicted to caffeine just to try to focus in school and at work. I’m scared that if I go and do have this ADHD I won’t be able to do any CJ job because of this “mental disorder.”

  • jonathan

    Hi. My name is Jonathan.. I’m 21 and I have autism. Been trying to get on Assistance because of my work habits and how I function around people in the world. But have been interested in law enforcement for as long as I can remember. Plan on getting my g.e.d soon. Just want some advice. Thank you. Jon

  • David

    I am 34 years old and have been working for the Sheriff’s Department (Corrections) for approximately 10 years now. I have state certifications as well as national training certifications. My issue is that I recently had spine surgery due to a buildup of scar tissue pressing on my spinal chord. Needless to say there is a very good chance that I will not be able to return to my position at the Sheriffs Department. What other options would I have since my department does not have any positions in which I could do with my physically limitations and possible long term wheelchair or cane use.

  • Jake Parker

    I am 25 years old and when I was 12 I was shot in the eye with a co2 powered pellet gun. I lost my left eye due to the accident. I wanted to join the military right out of high school but I was shot down due to my eye. That basically sent me in a downward spiral of bad decisions and not moving forward in life. Now that I am 25 I feel I need to get my life together and I would love to know what type of criminal justice or leo jobs if any that I could look into?

    Thank You
    Jake

  • Michael

    Hello, my name is Michael. I recently got my security guard D licences but I have mild hearing loss. Can I still qualify if they ask me to do a screening? I’m a college student.

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