Making a Difference on the Streets of Boston

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Retired police officer Walter Fahey, 75, with his son, Bill, in Boston.

Retired police officer Walter Fahey, 75, (right) with his son, Bill, in Boston. StoryCorps hide caption

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For 40 years, Walter Fahey walked the streets of Boston as a police officer. The secret to lasting so long, he says, was that he had "a good reputation on the street, because I never looked down on people."

Now retired, Fahey recently spoke with his son, Bill, about his time on the job.

As he got older, Fahey was made a detective. But he resigned in order to return to the rank of patrol officer. When the police commissioner asked him why, Fahey's response was simple: "I got to get back on the street, where I make a difference."

Fahey was awarded the department's Medal of Honor twice. The first time was in 1961, when he talked a 15-year-old girl out of jumping off a building. The second time was in 1996, for his role in ending a hostage standoff.

Asked about the most frightening moments in his time on the job, Fahey runs down a list.

"I was shot at twice. Hit by a car twice," he says. "Thrown off a porch once — now, that's a good one."

But what helped him get through it all, he says, was having a loving wife and family to come home to — Bill, and his five siblings. Fahey says it allowed him to go back to work the next day, "like nothing ever happened."

Walter Fahey joined the Boston police force in 1957. His retirement in 1997 was mandatory — he had turned 65.

Produced for 'Morning Edition' by Michael Garofalo. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Sarah Kramer.

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