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How an NYPD officer made an elderly Australian woman cry

“I’d love to meet a real New York policeman,” the 85-year-old woman always says. On Thursday, she got her chance.
Berenice Benson, a resident of Uniting Mirinjani nursing home in Canberra, Australia, long dreamed of meeting an NYPD officer. She got her chance this week when Det. Howad Shank paid her a surprise visit. (Facebook/Uniting)
Berenice Benson, a resident of Uniting Mirinjani nursing home in Canberra, Australia, long dreamed of meeting an NYPD officer. She got her chance this week when Det. Howad Shank paid her a surprise visit. (Facebook/Uniting)

An NYPD officer brought an 85-year-old New York-loving Australian women to tears when he surprised her in her nursing home Thursday, the Canberra Times reported.

Berenice Benson, a resident of Uniting Mirinjani nursing home in Canberra, has been a longtime lover of New York City, even though her travels never did bring her to the Big Apple.

“I never got to go, it’s my dream,” she said. “I’d love to meet a real New York policeman. Just the idea of strolling through the streets of New York and asking a policeman for directions to the nearest coffee shop.”

On Thursday, Benson, who has dementia, might not have been able to get those directions, but she did finally realize her dream of meeting a real NYPD officer when Det. Howard Shank paid her a surprise visit that was two years in the making, Jo Sumner of Uniting Mirinjani told the Canberra Times.

Sumner and her friend, Australian Federal Police officer Stephen Daniel, worked to see how they could turn Benson’s dream into reality. After contacting the NYPD, they were informed that Shank just happened to be in Sydney and would come down to visit Benson.

“I don’t know about coffee, but (I) can show you where all the best donuts are,” a uniformed Shank told Benson during the surprise lunchtime visit.

Shank, a 33-year veteran of the NYPD, told the Canberra Times the request was one of the strangest he’s had — but also a highlight.

“I lost my father to Alzheimer’s, so being here (it’s) a bit emotional, but I’ve seen a lot and done a lot, and this is one of the better moments in my career,” he said.

Benson was able to try on Shank’s police cap and take a tour of the nursing home together.

“I’ve never married, and I never had children, but this excitement, this has been the best day of my life,” said Benson, who received an NYPD scarf from Shank that came “all the way from the streets of Manhattan.”