Police task force to probe unsolved homicides

·2 min read
The new task force will delve into 22 unsolved homicides, but Ottawa police aren't revealing which ones. (Michel Aspirot/CBC - image credit)
The new task force will delve into 22 unsolved homicides, but Ottawa police aren't revealing which ones. (Michel Aspirot/CBC - image credit)

The Ottawa Police Service is launching a new task force to review unsolved homicides, many of whose victims were young men from marginalized communities.

During a media briefing Monday, Insp. Carl Cartright said the task force will include officers from diverse backgrounds, with a range of skill sets, in an attempt to build public trust and convince witnesses to come forward.

"These are cases that we know individuals out there have information [about] that they can share with us," Cartright said. "[In] some of those cases we even know who these individuals are. We just need that little bit of information that the public may not think is very important ... [to] be shared with us to help us bring some closure to these families."

Insp. Carl Cartright said the task force hopes to bring some closure to families that are still grieving the loss of a loved one.
Insp. Carl Cartright said the task force hopes to bring some closure to families that are still grieving the loss of a loved one. (Zoom)

Cartright said the task force will begin by looking at 22 unsolved cases dating back 12 years that have "high solvability" factors, but he wouldn't say which specific ones.

"That's not something we're going to get into," Cartright said.

Cartright said the task force used intelligence and data analysis to select the cases and that the majority of them involve gun violence.

The task force will be led by the homicide unit, but may include officers from other units who will bring their specific expertise, Cartright said.

Step in the right direction, says mom

For Donna Dickson, while Monday's announcement is a step in the right direction, actions speak louder than words.

It's been nearly four years since her youngest son, Ashton Dickson, was shot outside a Rideau Street bar.

"Ashton was murdered. You have video, you have witnesses, what more do you need to arrest these guys walking around?" she said.

For years she's believed police could do more to generate new leads. Dickson said she believes cases like her son's are often overlooked because it's a crime committed within the Black community.

If the police are able to solve some of these cases and made arrests, she said it would bring chapter of her life to a close.

"My trust is very slim," she said.

According to Ottawa police's Cartright, there have been 56 unsolved cases dating back to 1962.

Anyone with information about an unsolved homicide is asked to contact the Ottawa police homicide unit.