Caleb Nguyen| The Poly Post

Carjacking on campus leaves students concerned for safety

By Caleb Nguyen, Oct. 11, 2022

On Sept. 23 at approximately 1 a.m., a student was carjacked at knifepoint with the victim surrendering their possessions and their vehicle from Lot B.

University police sent out a safety notification email regarding the crime four days after the incident, causing many students to question the delay in notifying the campus community.

With the carjacking and additional recent crimes occurring in parking lots around campus, students have raised concerns about police transparency, lack of security cameras and whether there are enough officers to ensure the safety of the 27,000 students at the university.

The victim, who is a member of Cal Poly Pomona’s Muslim Student Association, asked not to be identified at this time due to the nature of the incident, but allowed MSA club President Syed Sarmad to speak on their behalf.

“I wasn’t exactly too sure as to why they took so long, but I just chalked it up to maybe they wanted to get the most detailed information before sending it out,” said Sarmad.

Student leaders elsewhere on campus also raised concerns over the delay.

Sidney Herrera, chair of the Sig Courts escort system for Greek life members, was confused over the delay from UPD and said he found out about the carjacking from the MSA’s Instagram post rather than campus police.

“When it comes to public safety, and someone got held up at 1 a.m. (Friday), and you’re not telling us until 4 p.m. (Tuesday), and we have to find out by an Instagram post,” said Herrera. “I know the person that got held up told their club immediately because that’s how we know.  I think four days later was way too long. Even if it wasn’t their intention, it almost felt like they’re trying to sweep it under the rug.”

University Police Department Chief Linh Dinh said that he wanted all information attached to the case before notifying campus of the event.

“We wanted to make sure that it was not only informative, but a call to action,” said Dinh. “We don’t want to worry people and we also want to make sure that they are armed with information that they can use.”

Caleb Nguyen | The Poly Post

After the incident, the victim notified MSA of the crime, prompting the club to post a warning on their Instagram page on Sept. 25 with UPD sending their notification to campus two days later on Sept. 27.

The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to report campus crime data, support victims of violence and publicly outline the policies and procedures they have put into place to improve campus safety.

Part of this policy involves issuing a timely warning, an immediate notification to campus populations when there is an imminent and ongoing threat to school safety.

According to Peter Hanink, assistant professor in the sociology department and policing scholar, UPD did not violate the Clery Act due to the carjacking being an isolated incident over such immediate threats as an active shooter or a bomb threat.

According to Dinh, only two or three officers were patrolling campus on Sept. 23, stating that UPD does not have the necessary manpower for more patrol units during these hours.

Dinh also continued to stress the importance of safety and the availability of campus resources offered by UPD to ease discomfort for students.

“We have services available to those who are concerned,” said Dinh. “If they need an escort, they can call us at our dispatch 24/7. If there’s any suspicious activity that someone witnesses, please don’t hesitate. Call 911 or call the police department and we’ll be certain to send somebody to investigate and assist.”

While the MSA’s post mentioned a system provided for walking female club members back to their desired location safely, the club strongly advised spreading the word to all Broncos in wake of the incident. The organization’s statement also mentioned working in conjunction with campus to strive toward a safer community.

Herrera stressed additional concern over the burden on students to respond to such incidents rather than authoritative figures.

“The fact that the students are going to students rather than students having a set club or a set organization like a security team to walk them, I think is almost a little ridiculous,” said Herrera. “Students are relying on other students for protection when we have a police station.”

If you notice any suspicious activity, the campus community is strongly advised to report to the University Police Department at 909-869-3070.

Feature image by Caleb Nguyen