Baltimore Officer Named One Of Two Best In State

The Sun Also Chose Prince George's Sergeant

April 25, 1997|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A Baltimore police officer who incapacitated a gunman on a crowded city playground and a sergeant from the Prince George's County Sheriff's Office who helped make a murder arrest while off duty were honored yesterday as the 1997 Baltimore Sun Police Officers of the Year.

Officer Glenn A. Zinn, 28, who works in the city's Central District, won the award for excellence in law enforcement.

The community service award went to Sgt. Joseph A. Aiello Jr., 38, a 17-year veteran of the Prince George's County Sheriff's Office who specializes in handling felony narcotics-related arrest warrant investigations and arrests. He was cited particularly for his off-duty work as a volunteer fireman and emergency medical technician.

Aiello was off duty at his Bowie home in February 1996 when he heard on his scanner what sounded like a routine call for a paramedic. But he also heard a police call for the same address, near his home, and realizing it would take some time for the units to arrive, Aiello went there.

He found a woman's body covered with blood, slumped in the driver's seat of a car in the driveway, and a man with a child standing nearby. Aiello said he determined that a murder had taken place, and that he had arrived at a crime scene. He suspected the man at the scene, the woman's husband, had killed her.

"There were a lot of things going on," Aiello said. "I had a crime scene to preserve. I had a small child there who could possibly be the next victim. I didn't know where the weapon was.

"There were only about three or four minutes before backup arrived, but it seemed like forever," he said.

Aiello used his negotiating skills to keep the suspect at the scene until backup arrived, and then stayed to comfort the child. The husband was arrested, convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Zinn, who has been on the force 3 1/2 years, was credited for several key arrests, but his superiors highlighted an incident in January 1996. He responded to a report of a man firing a gun at an Upton playground crowded with children.

When the gunman began firing at three plainclothes officers who also had come to the scene, Zinn positioned himself between the gunman and the officers. When the gunman, still firing, began to run, Zinn pursued him and shot him. The gunman died.

Zinn was cited by his superiors for acting "without regard to his own safety."

"You basically don't have any time to think," he said. "You go with your training and what you were taught by the department. You do what you have to do to come out of this with your life."

Zinn and Aiello were among more than 80 police officers, sheriff's deputies, state troopers and corrections officers who were nominated for awards by law enforcement agencies across the state.

The winners were selected by three judges.

Pub Date: 4/25/97

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