Hintonburg residents unsatisfied with police response to recent attacks

Interview with Cheryl Parrott from OpenFile on Vimeo.

A communication breakdown between police and a community association meant many of Hintonburg’s residents were unaware of a series of nearby attacks until several weeks afterwards.

The first two attacks on women occurred within half an hour of each other in Centretown and Hintonburg on Dec. 11 of last year. A third woman was attacked on Jan. 4.

Hintonburg resident Jennifer Farrell says she is now afraid to walk alone.

“I have to walk with my boyfriend and I don’t feel safe at all,” Farrell said. “We don’t get a lot of this stuff in Ottawa. It’s a pretty safe community and then stuff like this happens.”

Cheryl Parrott, chair of the association’s security committee, said it took too long for the police to figure out the attacks were related.

“The police released a media advisory only on Jan. 7,” she said. “That was really the first that we knew.”

“I had called our community officer on Jan. 10 to get more information, but he was unaware of the attacks at all, so he actually had to contact other police officers to find out more,” Parrott says.

The association took steps this week to alert residents themselves, distributing flyers to mailboxes and on lampposts on Wellington Street.

Parrott also claimed that an investigator told her that the crime analyst for the case was on vacation.

“That’s why they didn’t connect the dots, that these three incidents weren’t connected,” she alleges. “It was only when the crime analyst came back from holidays that they put it all together and then issued the media advisory.”

Police Staff Sergeant, Dave Veinotte, played down the impact of the vacationing crime analyst. He added that the police do not broadcast every investigation to every community group.

“There was a breakdown,” Veinotte admitted. “There was a lack of communication between the investigative side and the community side, because we were just putting things together.”

Veinotte stated the timing of the attacks over Christmas was unfortunate.

“Sometimes it does come down to staffing,” Veinotte stated. “In this current state of affairs, of having to do more with less, that’s what we deal with.”