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Park Worker Comes to Rescue of Slashed Officer

by Diane Williams, DC 37  |  January 15, 2016

Park Worker Comes to Rescue of Slashed Officer Joanna Zeno, a New York City parks worker, helped police capture a suspect in an attack on an off-duty police officer in Cunningham Park. (Photo by Clarence Elie-Rivera)

NEW YORK – Parks worker Joanna Zeno had just finished blowing leaves in Cunningham Park on Oct. 16 when she heard screams for help coming from the bathroom.                      

"I saw a woman bleeding. She said, 'That lady stabbed me,'" said Zeno, a member of AFSCME Local 1505 (DC 37).

Without hesitating, Zeno followed the slight-built woman in red, who had slashed her victim across the face and neck, as she headed deeper into verdant Fresh Meadows Park.

"I wasn't afraid. I knew I could take her. I wanted to help," said Zeno, who has worked for the Department of Parks and Recreation since 2007. "I recognized her as one of the homeless people who hang around Cunningham Park."

Zeno also knows the victim, who is an off-duty police officer. "She comes here to walk her dog and exercise. I say hello to her all the time," she said.

Driving a Parks Department cart, Zeno led police to the attacker and they made an arrest.

"I'm happy they caught her; she could have hurt the children in the park," said Zeno, who once helped another victim who was attacked in Flushing Park in 2012. "It's a tough job, but I really like my work," she added. "Parks need to be safe for everyone, especially for the kids."

"The presence of our members is a deterrent to crimes like rapes, murders, and robberies – and they should be commended for it,” said Local 1505 Pres. Dilcy Benn.  ”She probably saved the officer's life."

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