Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Crystal Taman's son joins police ranks

Mom killed after car rear-ended by off-duty cop

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His mom pushed him to follow his heart.

And despite her death and the fallout from it, Jordan Taman didn't waver in fulfilling his dream.

He's a cop -- a constable in Ste. Anne.

"My mom was one of my biggest supporters," Taman said. "Her and my dad. This is my lifelong career now. It's always been my ambition."

Taman, 27, now patrols the town of about 1,500 people, just off the Trans-Canada Highway east of Winnipeg.

He started as an auxiliary constable two years ago, volunteering in that position for a year before heading to the Ontario Police College for full training last January and graduating three months later into a full-time position on the municipal force.

"The job is really fulfilling," he said. "With the job you're doing, you're helping people. No matter what you're doing -- it can be the smallest of little things -- it may be small to you, but it's not small to the person who's coming to you, so you have to treat everything the same."

Taman said he never wavered from wanting to be a cop, not even after what happened to his mom, Crystal, almost eight years ago.

She was killed Feb. 25, 2005, as she waited at a traffic light at Lagimodiere Boulevard and the north Perimeter Highway. On her way to work as a dental assistant, her tiny car was rammed from behind by a pickup truck driven by Derek Harvey-Zenk, at the time an off-duty Winnipeg police officer.

He'd apparently fallen asleep after a night of partying with fellow officers at a colleague's house north of the city.

In a controversial plea deal, Harvey-Zenk was convicted of dangerous driving causing death. Other charges of refusing a breathalyzer, impaired driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death were stayed by the Crown. It was later revealed those charges were dropped because East St. Paul police botched the investigation into the crash.

The East St. Paul police force was later disbanded by the province and its former police chief, Harry Bakema, was charged with perjury, obstruction of justice and breach of trust. A decision in his case is expected shortly.

Winnipeg police also didn't fare that well.

The officers who were with Harvey-Zenk claimed they could not remember what each had been drinking that night and how much each had consumed, opening themselves up to criticism and doubt.

Taman said the death of his mom, the police investigation and a subsequent 2008 public inquiry into the whole mess didn't sway him in his desire to be a cop.

"I don't paint all police officers with the same brush," Taman said. "I know a lot of very good police officers, and I work with a lot of very good police officers. To paint everyone with the same brush would be totally wrong.

"I think that the job that police do is very hard and, at the same time, it's very needed," he added. "No matter where you go and what you do, you're always going to have police officers. No matter how you look at it, there is always going to be a police officer there.

"I wanted to join policing and be one of those good police officers."

Taman, who left a job in telecommunications to be a cop, said he's apprehensive about talking to the media about his job. He doesn't want to be singled out over the other four officers he works with, and he doesn't want it to appear he chose to go into law enforcement because of the death of his mom.

Nothing could be further from the truth, he said.

His boss, Ste. Anne police Chief Marc Robichaud, and his father, Robert Taman, said it would be OK to speak publicly to show he's proud of his chosen profession.

"Ever since he was a little kid, he was going to be a cop," Robert Taman said. "I've always backed him. He's worked hard to get to where he is now. He's worked harder than most. He had some pretty tough obstacles and he battled through them."

Robichaud said Taman fits in well in the small department.

"Jordan has proven himself to be a very valuable part of the organization," he said. "For a young constable, he's extremely diligent. He's done a fantastic job since he started."

For now, Taman, a former reservist with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, just wants to concentrate on his job and his young family. He and his wife, Candace, have two small children and another on the way.

"My wife is hugely supportive," he said. "She knew this is what I wanted to do.

"I have no other ideas in mind yet of what I would like to do or where I would like to go, but as of right now, the guys I work with are fantastic. They welcomed me right in.

"It's a small police force, so it's like a family here."

 

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 27, 2012 A4

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