Bravery, Dedication To Duty Honoured
Nearly a year into the job and off duty, Constable Edmund Bruckner was driving northbound on Dufferin St. over the Gardiner Expressway in September 2021 when he observed a man about to jump off the bridge.
“This was a young guy with a walking stick pacing up and down the bridge ledge, so I swung around and carefully approached him and tried to engage him in conversation,” said the officer. “I told him my name and inquired how he was doing. I also asked him to come down and talk to me.”
During the conversation, the man started to cry.
“I could tell he was in crisis,” said Bruckner. “He told me he was an international student who was here alone and had dropped out of school. He felt like a failure and embarrassment and did not want to call his dad and tell him he was no longer in school. I told him everyone encounters failure in life, including myself."
Bruckner called 14 Division officers and Emergency Medical Services as he talked through the young man's problems. He eventually got him talking about solutions like getting mental health treatment and explained the process on how police would apprehend him and get him to hospital for help.
“I told him I thought that would be a good idea and he was on board,” said the officer, who formally worked for Correctional Services and GO Transit before joining the Service. “He was taken to a hospital and everything worked out well. He seemed to be a good kid and it was sad that he had reached the point where he wanted to end his life. There were a few people who looked at him on that ledge and just went about their business. I am glad I was able to assist.”
Hired in 2020, Bruckner received his badge last year.
He was among many officers who received Commendations at the Toronto Police Service Awards ceremony on June 8 at the Toronto Police College.
The Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) grants Commendations for exceptional performance of duty, community policing initiatives or innovations and initiatives that enhance the image or operation of the Service.
In August 2015, Inspector Katherine Stephenson was assgined to the 55 Division Criminal Investigation Bureau when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police advised her that a male had received parole and was being released from a Colorado prison.
It didn’t take long for her to find out that he had an outstanding warrant from October 1986, with charges including kidnapping, sex assault and weapons.
Stephenson arranged to have the man returned to Toronto and arrested.
During the investigation, she contacted two of the victims and convinced them to testify, as the charges he served time for in Colorado were strikingly similar to those of the warrant. The officer prepared both cases simultaneously and supported the victims while they testified throughout the preliminary hearings and trial.
The accused was found guilty.
Const. Michael Phaneuf was among 14 officers presented with the Medal of Merit granted by the TPSB for outstanding acts of bravery and the highest level of duty performance.
In February 2021, he along with Sergeant Duane St. Jean, Detective-Constable Satbir Kullar and Constable Deanna Jovanovich attended a missing person call.
“The night shift had done most of the work, so we went to the rooming house to do another search that morning,” recounted the 23 Division officer.
While waiting in the hallway for the landlord to open a locked door, a door swung open and a man in sunglasses with a 12-inch knife lunged at Phaneuf, who joined the Service two-and-a-half years ago.
“I had heard a noise to my left and when I looked over, there was this guy wielding a knife over his head,” he said. “As he plunged it into my left shoulder, I backed away and created some space.”
St. Jean engaged the man with a Taser and Kullar covered Phaneuf who also activated his Taser.
“It was effective and St. Jean took the knife,” he said. “There was a bit of a fight during which he kicked Jovanovich before we were able to handcuff him. This was all teamwork. I got hit first, St. Jean engaged with him and got struck a couple of times and was bleeding pretty badly and then Kullar and Jovanovich got into it.
“This was a stark reminder of the dangers involved in any call an officer attend. Often, it is said you are going to a routine call, but there is no such thing as a routine call as anything could happen at any time.”
The knife created a 10-centimetre long and four centimeter wide wound in Phaneuf’s shoulder and he was off work for six weeks.
Merit Mark Awards for exemplary acts of bravery, performance of duty, community policing initiatives or innovations or initiatives that enhance the image or operation of the Service were presented to 82 officers and 16 civilians.
“Tonight’s award winners are some of the best among us,” said Chief James Ramer. “They are brave, professional and dedicated to duty and teamwork. They demonstrate compassion for the citizens of our city and a steadfast commitment to keeping them safe. As your Chief, I am proud to be part of a police service with individuals of such high caliber and I want to express my immense gratitude and appreciation for your work.”
Ramer noted that this is a time in policing when working respectfully and collaboratively with each other and with communities has never been more important.
“Your steadfast commitment to teamwork, to going that extra mile to find solutions to the complex needs of our city, sometimes at risk to your own safety, builds trust with communities and makes our colleagues and city proud,” he added. “You live our core values and your actions set a shining example for every member of the Toronto Police Service. The recognition you are receiving tonight is very well deserved.”
TPSB Chair Jim Hart said the honourees exemplify excellence in policing.
“Their actions inspire each one of us to strive for new heights of professionalism and service to the community,” he said.
Hart pointed out that the award recipients are part of a dedicated TPS team that patrol the streets daily to make the city safer, kinder and better.
“They face great danger with selfless courage and deal with countless situations of chaos, sadness and risk with their trademark professionalism, care and dedication,” he said. “The vast majority of tonight’s awards are ‘teamwork commendations’. This, to me, is a testament to the incredible power of partnership. It highlights the fact that people working together to help to keep out City safe goes to the heart of Toronto’s character.”
Hart reminded the awardees that they have made their families, police service and their community exceptionally proud.
“I know that I speak for many when I say that I am honored to be part of a city and a police service that boast individuals of such outstanding caliber,” he added. “I say to each one of our award recipients today, you have our most sincere thanks for a job well done.”
Toronto Police Association President Jon Reid said the officers and civilians who were honoured represent a sample of the breadth of work members perform daily.
“It is that work that makes Toronto Police Service a world class organization,” he added.
Letters of Recognition were presented to firefighters Trevor Milliken and Trisha Tarzwell.
In November 2021, they along with Constable Daniel Kooy were the first to arrive on the scene in response to a call pertaining to a man hanging over a bridge.
They climbed over guardrails 30 feet above the ground and pulled the man to safety.
“We are appreciative of this honour, but we were just doing our job,” said Milliken.