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Officer's silent walks with student inspires Massachusetts community

Friendship captures hearts in Massachusetts
Friendship captures hearts in Massachusetts 05:18

A friendship between a 9-year-old girl and a dedicated school police officer in Waltham, Massachusetts, has captured the hearts of both staff and students.

Elif Iskin, who is developmentally disabled and communicates minimally, began to have daily recess interactions with Officer Ryan Foley.

Their daily routine involves Elif eagerly waiting for recess, where she silently makes her way to Officer Foley, who is always waiting at their special meeting spot. The pair then embark on a quiet 30-minute walk.

"She has a set route that she does. There's certain bricks that she steps on certain points on the curve that she likes to hit. But mostly it's, it's like zone out time. It's just a peaceful 30-minute walk," said Foley. 

Foley said the pair doesn't need words; their routine is their conversation. 

"I think she senses that I'm also pretty quiet too. And you know, I think that might play into her being more comfortable that I'm not pressuring her to do anything. It's just walk, she knows I'm along for the walk," said Foley.

Elif's father, Onur Iskin, says seeing his daughter trust someone so profoundly brings him to tears. 

"I cried… because I know someone is watching her. She's safe," he said. "I see that she's trusting someone except her, her father or her mother or her aunts or uncles."

Elif's father appreciates the security that Officer Foley brings to his daughter's life.

"Great guy. The best helper of Elif, best of friend of Elif. Now, I'm relaxed, 100% relaxed," he said.

This bond has lasted for over a year, and on days when Officer Foley isn't there, Elif's disappointment can be felt by her teachers.

The connection between Elif and Officer Foley grew stronger when Elif, who typically doesn't speak, surprised her teachers and classmates by identifying a flashcard image of a police officer as "Police Officer Foley."

Officer Foley, coming from a long line of police officers, is the first in his family to work in a school setting. This role has allowed him to form a protective, nurturing bond with Elif and left an everlasting presence. 

"I think every connection that I make at this school special, um, this one in particular will live in my heart forever," said Foley. 

If you have a story you want "CBS Mornings" lead national correspondent David Begnaud to consider, please send it to

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