Adam Roth: Law-Enforcement Officer
Adam Roth is a special agent with the Department of Commerce. (Photograph by Matthew Furman)
|Diabetes and Your Career|
Adam Roth is no stranger to law enforcement. In his 11-year career, he's been a small-town police officer, an officer with the U.S. Pentagon Police, a member of security details for dignitaries, including the secretaries of state and commerce, and a special agent with the Department of Commerce, his current job.
When Roth decided on a law enforcement career, he knew his type 1 diabetes would play a role in the application process. "There were places 10 years ago that wouldn't hire type 1 diabetics," says Roth, now 35. "I remember there were some [police] departments that I looked at that had blanket bans on people with diabetes."
Applying for his first job, as a cop in a New Jersey beach town, Roth was cautious about revealing his diabetes. "I really tried to downplay it," he says. "I did tell them, but only when I had to. I figured, why give them a chance to find something wrong?"
Roth was hired without issue, but he still worried when applying for a police position with the Pentagon. The Department of Defense, which would employ him, conducted medical evaluations using the same medical team as the military. "I was pretty concerned about that because the military excludes diabetics," he says. The job required physicals twice yearly and his doctor's sign-off, but aside from that, he wasn't held to different standards than other officers.
But Roth ran into trouble when he pursued a reservist job with the Coast Guard while working for the Pentagon Police. He'd done combat and medical training through the military, so it wasn't a stretch to believe he'd be accepted. Yet Roth was refused because of his diabetes.
"I can be a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security, but I can't be a special agent with the Coast Guard, [which is] under the Department of Homeland Security," he says. He fought the ruling, but the Coast Guard wouldn't budge.
Roth was luckier in his fight against the Alexandria (Va.) Volunteer Fire Department. Having completed emergency medical training while working at the Pentagon, Roth aimed to join as an emergency medical technician but was stopped by a department ban. Roth appealed, eventually won the position, and served as an EMT for a year.
If Roth's career proves anything, it's that people with diabetes can hold any number of jobs—even if people tell them it's impossible. "Don't let anything hold you back," he says. "I've run into people before who ask me, 'Can I be a police officer or an FBI agent?' You can do it, and there's nothing that is going to hold you back or slow you down."