QUEENS, N.Y. (PIX11) — Tanya Duhaney is a New Yorker, through and through. Born in Brooklyn and raised in southeast Queens, she bleeds blue.
“Every job that I had just didn’t feel right until I took the test to become a New York City police officer,” Duhaney said.
Duhaney said her calling came early when at just 5 years old she strayed away from home trying to follow her older sister to a grocery store and got lost. It was an NYPD officer who helped bring her home.
“I remember the ride home to my parents, one of the police officers put their hat on my head, and I just kept going side to side with it because it was so big … That officer definitely planted a seed because after that everything I wanted was in law enforcement,” Duhaney said.
Duhaney attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice, worked public safety in New York City public schools, and was a member of the NYPD recruits who became known as the 9/11 class, entering the police academy just before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Her first assignment was patrolling ground zero.
“The biggest journey was going through 9/11 and not knowing if I was going to see my family again,” Duhaney said.
The fear and trauma Duhaney experienced didn’t deter her from a life of service. Instead, it inspired her. Remarkably, she was assigned to the 113th Precinct in Jamaica, Queens, patrolling the very neighborhood where she grew up. “I knew it was a message from God. There was a reason I went right back there,” Duhaney said.
She stayed at the 113th Precinct for 19 years, working the beat and mentoring youth in local high schools. Her leadership and dedication upgraded her to detective. She beams with pride about the difference she has made in community affairs at the NYPD’s Patrol Borough Queens South in Fresh Meadows.
Duhaney helped a neighborhood church collect prom dresses for students who couldn’t afford them. When the church couldn’t handle the demand, she took over.
“I make it very boujee for them so they are comfortable and feel like they are really shopping for their prom dresses,” Duhaney said. “I’m up to about 1,000 dresses. And now it’s open citywide to anyone in need.”
Duhaney’s drive to provide for others can’t be contained. She created the nonprofit Beyond the Blue. With the help of an NYPD grant, she spearheaded the dedication of a Jamaica park to 14-year-old Aamir Griffin who was killed by a stray bullet while playing basketball in the park in 2019.
With the help of state and federal funding, Duhaney launched Camping in the Park, a free, all-night camping event for children in a New York City park.
“I feel good to know that I created something that I pray will stay with the police department long after I’m gone,” Duhaney said.