Following the disappearance of a New Canaan woman nearly two weeks ago and subsequent searches of Waveny, where police found her car abandoned, a new petition to install cameras in the park is picking up hundreds of signatures online.
New Canaan resident Hilary Ormond created the petition Tuesday through Change.org following the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos, who hasn’t been seen since dropping her kids off at school May 24.
Police launched an investigation and quickly found her black Suburban parked near Waveny’s Lapham Road entrance. New Canaan Police on Saturday arrested Dulos’s estranged husband, and his girlfriend, in connection with her disappearance, and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have been seen searching through the heavily used park daily.
“I was inspired to create the petition because I wanted to turn my feelings of helplessness arising from the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos into something constructive,” Ormond said in an email, responding to questions from NewCanaanite.com. “Although I do not know Mrs. Dulos personally, I cannot help but feel a certain kinship to her as a fellow New Canaan mom as well as a New Canaan Country School parent. Moreover, as an attorney, I know the value of photographic evidence in a criminal prosecution.”
Since the creation of the petition, it has been been widely shared on social media and through email. As of Thursday morning, it had garnered more than 900 signatures.
In a preface the petition, Ormond wrote, “There are have been a number of concerning and, frankly, scary incidents that have occurred in recent history, the two most prominent being the verbal assault of a young jogger which occurred on October 31, 2017, and now the presence of an abandoned car owned by a missing woman, both of which transpired at the Lapham Road entrance.”
She referred to the verbal assault of a young runner in Waveny. In that case, a 20-year-old Norwalk man offered to pay a female juvenile for sex. Police initially called for the public’s help identifying the assailant and stepped up patrols in the park. In confessing to police, the man said he’d seen the strategy “work” in a movie, according to an arrest warrant application. He’s scheduled to appear next month in that ongoing criminal case, which is now statutorily sealed.
There are no surveillance cameras in Waveny. Citing privacy concerns, town officials have pushed back in the past on proposals to install them, including after a series of break-ins of parked motor vehicles in 2011 and 2012.
Asked for his thoughts on the matter, New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski noted in an emailed response that considering the heavy use of Waveny, it is “very safe.”
That said, Krolikowski said that cameras should be installed at the parks entrances and exists, ideally capturing license plate information.
“Solar motion lights could be installed in strategic locations,” he said, adding that additional trail cameras could be strategically placed.
“Emergency call boxes—hard wired or solar—could be placed in critical areas of the park as well as in the trails,” he said.
Parks & Recreation could oversee the installation and management of the equipment, Krolikowski said.
Ormond wrote in the petition, “We acknowledge that a taxpayer cost will arise from installing such security infrastructure, and we accept that cost as we know our Town officials will administer this project within reason. We advocate that personal safety is a greater priority over any individual privacy concerns, for there should be no expectation of privacy in a public space.”
The petition specifically calls for cameras on trails that run parallel to the Merritt Parkway, as well as those running parallel to South Avenue and at the Lapham Road entrance to Waveny.
Ormond said in her emailed responses that the petition in no way is meant to criticize the ongoing investigation.
“To the contrary, I think the New Canaan Police Department, in conjunction with the state police and the FBI, have done a truly remarkable job in investigating this case and in keeping the public informed with the tools that they currently have at their disposal,” she said. “I simply believe that the installation of cameras at Waveny Park (and in potentially other public New Canaan parks) will greatly aid the police in their investigative endeavors going forward.”
—Michael Dinan contributed to this article