Police Tell Harder Incidents Are Isolated, Meehan Says Her Office Has Heard of an Increase in Incidents
By Charlie Senack
Ottawa Police say there are currently “no indicators” to suggest the community is seeing an increase in violence, including swarmings, after a teen was seriously injured outside the Greenbank Farm Boy parking lot after being jumped in early June.
The attack, which left a 16-year-old with a concussion and a broken nose, is just one of many incidents the Barrhaven Independent has heard of in recent months. Gloucester-South Nepean Councillor Carol Anne Meehan says her office has also heard of an increase in incidents over the past year, but Barrhaven Councillor Jan Harder says police tell her any incidents that are taking place are isolated.
In an emailed response to the Barrhaven Independent, Ottawa Police offered little in the way of comments, but noted the skatepark on Berrigan has been on their radar “for quite some time”, and that “patrol is very aware of the youth gathering there and do extra patrols when able.”
Police have also noted that patrols in Barrhaven increased following the incident outside Farm Boy, and Councillor Harder said in her weekly newsletter that undercover police would also be monitoring the area.
Many families the Barrhaven Independent spoke to who asked for their names not to be published, said their teens have been swarmed, beaten up, and had items stolen, adding they were randomized and untargeted attacks. Many of these incidents took place at the skatepark, various bus stations, and around the Marketplace parking lot. In the incident where a large group of teens swarmed a 16-year-old outside the Farm Boy, Councillor Harder said police have told her it was a targeted attack, and that the individuals knew each other.
Councillor Carol Anne Meehan says regardless of if the attacks are randomized or not, there is a cause for concern and that parents are worried.
“They are disturbing, and I think one incident is too many,” Meehan told the Barrhaven Independent in an interview. “Too much can go wrong when kids are swarmed, whether it’s for their shoes, or their cell phone, or whatever.”
Meehan, who also sits on the Police Services Board, has long advocated for more police resources in Barrhaven, and she says they are coming.
“I have been talking in support of neighborhood police officers and we are going to be getting them,” she said. “The Deputy Police Chief gives me assurances that we are going to be getting them sooner rather than later.”
Meehan says an increased police presence will act as a deterrent for teens who are up to no good, and is a good community partnership between police and Barrhaven teens. She says the patrols should hopefully begin in the fall and will be 24/7, with a couple cars in the community at any given time.
A Barrhaven Community Watch Group has also been formed on Facebook, and has garnered hundreds of members in just a few weeks. The group, started by Gina Sutton, is working with community partners including community associations, resource centres, police, and politicians, to help spark change. They are advocating for more activities for teens to do in Barrhaven, and have suggested starting a drop-in centre. A public meeting is also on the works so police can address the issue, and members of the public can have an opportunity to share their concerns and ask questions.
Meehan says she’s pleased to see the group has been started, and will support their efforts in any way she can.
“It has to be a community response and that is why I’m gratified that these parents got together and they are going to be working to find solutions, and I think solutions need to start at home and in the community,” she said. “We need to start asking parents “do you know where your kids are? What are they up to?’ We need to monitor them a little more; we need to direct them a little more; we have to educate them more on how to protect themselves.”
Police say the incident which took place at the Greenbank Farm Boy is still an active investigation, so they couldn’t comment on if the teens engaging in these activities are from Barrhaven or elsewhere in the city. In some of the other incidents we have been alerted to, the Independent has been told the teens are coming from other areas of the city including Bayshore and Orleans.