Key issues covered in below communication:
- Updates on implementation progress of CAB Recommendations 1, 2, 3, 17 & 22
- New dashboard for CAB implementation now live here
- Update on DPS leadership search
I write to provide an update on our search for the university’s next Department of Public Safety (DPS) leader and to share the latest on the university’s efforts to review and implement the recommendations made by our Community Advisory Board (CAB).
Leadership search for our Department of Public Safety
The university is engaged in a transparent, comprehensive, and inclusive process to appoint its next head of the Department of Public Safety. I want to take this opportunity to once again thank so many of you who attended our DPS Chief Search Community Input Sessions earlier this year. The competencies you helped us identify, as well as the recommendations described in our CAB report, are being fully utilized as we interview candidates. We have a strong candidate pool, and I look forward to updating all of you soon.
CAB Implementation progress
Our new DPS leader, once appointed, will have a central role ensuring the recommendations made in the CAB report are not only implemented, but are sustained operationally going forward.
As many of you will recall, the CAB was formed by President Carol L. Folt in 2020 to conduct a thorough examination of USC’s public safety practices. Seven hundred people from across the USC community and our local neighborhood took part in this inclusive, community-wide process.
The result of these efforts was a set of 45 recommendations grouped into four thematic pillars: accountability, alternatives to armed response, community care, and transparency. Underpinning the recommendations is a ONE USC Safety Vision, first proposed by the CAB and now implemented by the university to address the CAB’s very first recommendation of reimagining public safety at USC. Since our last update, the vision was approved by senior leadership to be used as the university’s guiding light not only to reimagine public safety, but to implement all of the CAB’s subsequent recommendations:
“The ONE USC Safety Vision imagines a USC where everyone feels safe, respected, and protected from crime, while recognizing that this can be achieved only by addressing the diverse experiences and needs of all USC students, faculty, staff and neighbors.”
Beyond Recommendation #1, the CAB implementation team has advanced several other recommendations, including the following two to completion:
- Recommendation No. 3: a public policy statement about the seriousness of racial profiling has been drafted by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and approved by senior leadership. That statement, which now guides the university’s efforts with regard to racial profiling, reads as follows:
“Preventing and addressing bias-based community policing is a shared responsibility of all USC stakeholders.
As the ONE USC Safety journey began, we engaged in a community conversation based on our shared commitment to the physical and psychological safety of all. No student, staff, faculty member, community member, or visitor should feel unsafe or distrusted on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or membership in any protected class.
Bias-based policing is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at USC. The Department of Public Safety must always act based on legitimate facts and reasons, in a manner consistent with all DPS, EEO-TIX, and other University policies. Moreover, all members of our community are accountable for helping ensure that complaints to, and other interactions with, DPS are not infected by illicit bias.
The USC community continues to represent a space of inclusion, equity and diversity where knowledge and understanding eradicate ignorance, bigotry, and systemic racism. USC reaffirms its commitment to these foundational principles of our community.”
- Recommendation #17 deals with the need for mental health experts to provide mental health response when appropriate on DPS calls. Earlier this month, USC launched its MHART program, which pairs mental health counselors with DPS officers responding to mental health emergencies. More information about MHART is available here.
- Recommendation #22 asks the university to fund and create trauma-informed mental health resources, including counselors, to support and provide relief for the experiences of racially profiled students within Student Health Services, at no cost to the student. Student Health is now in Year 2 of a trauma-informed transformation. Parts of this program have been created to specifically address the CAB’s priorities:
- Mental Health Staff have the ability to engage in 1.5 hours of monthly Trauma Consultation and Education trainings.
- Students presenting for care are screened for racial trauma.
- Students have the ability to request a provider who can offer culturally informed care.
- USC’s Counseling and Mental Health Services has embedded clinicians in Student Equity and Inclusion Program offices to offer tailored support to the cultural centers.
Recommendation #2 from the CAB report asked the university to create an independent DPS Advisory Body that can be maintained in perpetuity. A charter for this permanent body has been drafted and approved. Please look out for details on how you can get involved in the coming weeks.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro, who co-chaired the CAB with me and worked so tirelessly, together with our Board, to oversee our Co-Design Public Safety Process right through to the finalization of the CAB report. Ange-Marie has also been pivotal, working with university administration on the CAB implementation process. Later this year, she will depart USC for a new opportunity at Ohio State. Thank you, Ange-Marie, for all you’ve done to contribute to public safety at USC.
Dr. Erroll G. Southers
Associate Senior Vice President, Safety & Risk Assurance