On Nov. 4, Ryan Soqui, a 23-year-old man on parole, kidnapped, carjacked and robbed Cal Poly student Yi Tak Choi on Campus Way near the Health Center.
On Nov. 5, around 4:30 p.m., the University Police Department sent out a campus-wide e-mail telling students about the crime that had occurred. The e-mail contained a description of the crime, safety tips and a link to a picture of Soqui.
One portion of the e-mail read, “He (Soqui) may be in the San Luis Obispo area. Soqui is considered armed and dangerous. If you see this person, dial 9-1-1 immediately. Do not attempt to contact or apprehend him.”
Although an e-mail was sent out, questions were raised as to why the Cal Poly Emergency Notification System was not used to notify students of the crime sooner.
Bill Watton, the Chief of Police at the UPD, said the main reason the system was not used was that the police had already tracked the car Soqui was driving to Grover Beach within an hour after the crime. Soqui was soon after tracked to Los Angeles.
“The thing that we try to watch for is how timely it is. We have to find out if the suspect is still in the area. If it’s reasonably determined that they are not in the area, then we will wait to tell students about the crime,” Watton said.
Telling students about a crime when it is determined that the suspect is already out of the area could do more bad then good, by causing panic within the campus community, Watton said.
While the police might have tracked Soqui out of the area, the e-mail sent out still raised some doubt about his whereabouts by writing, “He may be in the San Luis Obispo area.”
As far as security measures on campus, Watton said there was nothing the campus police could have done better to prevent the crime. There were seven officers patrolling that area of campus alone, due to the soccer game, when there are usually only three or four.
These kinds of things are unlikely, but they can happen. UPD tries to make students aware of prevention tips to best avoid dangerous situations, Watton said.
While crimes such as this one are statistically bound to happen, the Cal Poly Emergency Notification System has never been used to alert students of a threat to the campus, Watton said.
It has been operating for about a year and tests are conducted once a month. There are currently about 1,800 to 2,000 people registered for the system, including students, faculty and staff.
In order to receive the text message alerts, people must register by logging into http://my.calpoly.edu and clicking on the “Personal Info” tab.