Issues with previous emergency notification channels during manhunt highlight need for better warning system in Davis
Police are urging Davis residents to enroll with YoloAlert, an emergency notification network, after issues with other notification systems came to light following the shooting of Officer Natalie Corona.
On the evening of Jan. 10, a manhunt was underway for the man who shot Corona. With a presumably armed cop-killer at large somewhere in the city, police wanted Davis residents to remain indoors as much as possible. Warnings were posted on Twitter and Facebook, along with an ABC10 video interview with the latest updates available at the time. In the video, Lt. Paul Doroshov of the Davis Police Department advised residents to stay where they were until the killer had been found.
“If you live here, please stay in your house,” Doroshov told residents via ABC10. “Shelter in place. Don’t come out if you don’t need to. If you don’t live here, and you’re thinking of coming to central Davis right now, please don’t. It’s very dynamic — we have a lot [of] law enforcement here, and we still have somebody that’s out there that’s dangerous.”
But only those who had social media accounts had any chance of coming across these posts. Separately, the UC Davis emergency system WarnMe had also sent out an emergency notification about the shooting but failed to notify the majority of students and staff in its network.
Warnings also went out across the YoloAlert network, the city’s emergency notification network on the Everbridge platform. Texts warning residents to stay indoors went out to Davis residents using phones within AT&T and Verizon’s networks, as well those who had already opted into the system.
Doroshov said that the challenge of notifying Davis residents during the manhunt prompted the Davis police to attempt to raise awareness of the YoloAlert network. The problem with Facebook and Twitter, according to Doroshov, is that important messages are unlikely to reach the majority of community members.
“The only problem with social media is that you have to be actively on it and looking for that [information], whereas with this system, we can notify people via text on [their] phone, even if they’re not prepared to hear something’s going on,” Doroshov said.
The Davis Police Department announced the launch of the program in 2014 in a bulletin on the City of Davis website, noting that both unlisted and listed numbers in the AT&T and Verizon networks would be automatically added to the database. It encouraged users with other service providers to register their information with the new network. In addition to situations like the Corona shooting, YoloAlert also provides important information about road closures, weather warnings and missing person reports.
“Alerts and notifications that residents might receive through this system include time-sensitive messages about flooding, levee failures, severe weather, disaster events, unexpected road closures, missing persons and evacuations of buildings and neighborhoods in specific geographic locations,” the post read.
As the name suggests, the YoloAlert network includes residents from all of Yolo County, not just the city of Davis. Similar systems are set up nearby in Sacramento and Placer counties. Doroshov said the police want as many Yolo County citizens as possible to register in order to create a more robust emergency alert network.
“We’re trying to significantly raise membership if we can,” Doroshov said. “It’s the system that’s uniformly used throughout our county and multiple other neighboring counties, so it’s one that’s good to have.”
To add contact information with YoloAlert network, visit yolo-alert.org and register for an account. Information about other social media notification systems used by the Davis PD can be found on the City of Davis website.
Written by: Tim Lalonde — firstname.lastname@example.org