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Retiring Arlington Police Chief On The Changing Approach To Addiction And Mental Illness07:00
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Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan didn't have a clear path to success as a kid.
It was a hardscrabble life for his family.

"I grew up in the public housing projects in East Arlington, down by Dilboy field in Somerville," Ryan says. "And I always joke, you know, half of my friends went to jail, the other half became cops. And I'm happy that I fell on the good side of the law."

After two decades as chief, Ryan says it's time to hang up his uniform, though. He's retiring from the police force this weekend.

Ryan has spent 33 years in municipal law enforcement in Massachusetts. In recent years he's been called on nationally as a leading voice on the opioid crisis. He's one of the leaders of an initiative that helps police departments avoid arresting people with substance use disorder, and instead get them on a path to recovery.

Ryan told WBUR's Lisa Mullins about the sea change he's seen in the way police approach crime and disorder in the community. Hear their conversation above.


Editor's Note: Since this interview was recorded, the Waltham-based drug manufacturer Alkermes announced Ryan is joining its community relations team. Alkermes makes Vivitrol — one of the medications used to treat substance use disorder. The company says Ryan's real-world experiences will help break down barriers to treatment.

This segment aired on January 4, 2019.

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