USC Announces Security Upgrades

Enhancements include year-round deployment of neighborhood security ambassadors, further improvements in technology, additional security personnel, improved wait times for Campus Cruiser, enhanced mandatory safety education and more.

The University of Southern California (USC) today unveiled a number of new measures to further improve security. Enhancements include increased year-round deployment of neighborhood security ambassadors, further improvements in technology, additional security personnel, improved wait times for Campus Cruiser, enhanced mandatory safety education and more.

The additional security measures were implemented as a result of discussions school officials had with Chinese student leaders, parents and others. Their concerns were prompted by the murder of Chinese graduate student, Xinran Ji, in July. He was assaulted by a group of men as he was walking home from campus after midnight.  He died a short time later in his apartment.

“USC leadership will continue to work with this group and others to devise smart ways to further improve safety on and around campus, based on research and analysis, including through improved safety education mandated for all students.,” the school said in a statement.

The new security improvements include:

  • Enhance the deployment of neighborhood security ambassadors and extend coverage year-round, including the summer, and increase dedicated nighttime USC Department of Public Safety and LAPD foot-beats and bicycle patrols in the University Park neighborhood.
  • Upgrade the video analytics used in monitoring the university’s extensive Closed-Circuit TV (CCTV) video cameras in the neighborhood surrounding the campus and increase the number of personnel monitoring the cameras around the clock.
  • Expand the service area of Campus Cruiser, the university’s free car escorts, to the full USC patrol and response area and reduce wait times to no more than 15 minutes.
  • Expedite the planned implementation of a free, mobile safety app focused on the USC campus community to allow students, faculty or staff to immediately contact DPS.

The university also is continuing its ongoing efforts to improve education programs. This year, all summer orientation programs for incoming students included new safety education programming, and the enhanced programming will continue through Welcome Week and into the school year. USC also changed its safety programming for new international students, with several onsite programs in China and new videos subtitled in Mandarin.

Beginning this fall, USC is mandating extended safety education for all incoming international graduate students, just as it has for incoming undergraduate students. Including its “Trojans Care for Trojans” initiative designed to encourage students to watch out for each other, USC will continue education throughout the year in residence halls, through student groups and in schools with substantial numbers of international students.  Beginning no later than fall 2015, continuing safety education will be required in every year of a student’s tenure at USC.

USC DPS is forming an International Student Safety Advisory Group, creating an International Student Liaison Officer position and further expanding its Neighborhood Watch programs.

“At the beginning of the school year we will meet with additional student groups, because our entire university community is committed to creating a safe environment. All of us must be actively involved,” said Elizabeth Garrett, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Safety is a shared responsibility – it includes both practices and methods adopted by the university and precautions that our students, faculty and staff need to take with an awareness of their surroundings.”

The new measures follow a number of important enhancements implemented in the past two years by USC and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), which included:

  • LAPD added 30 police officers to the Southwest Division, which includes USC.
  • LAPD added a detective dedicated to the area, and the L.A. City Attorney’s Office added a neighborhood prosecutor.
  • LAPD Southwest Division adopted Predictive Policing, a computerized system for predicting and preventing potential negative trends.
  • The USC DPS increased patrols by vehicle, bicycle and on foot.
  • USC expanded its Campus Cruiser car escort service.
  • USC increased the number of its neighborhood security ambassadors
  • USC added nearly 60 security cameras in two years and expanded its public safety patrol area significantly. USC now has more than 190 video or license plate recognition cameras.

As a result of the changes over the last two years, LAPD and Clery crime statistics show that crimes were reduced significantly on campus and in the neighborhood.

“USC evaluates and upgrades its security measures and safety procedures on an ongoing basis, and we are glad that we have been successful working with LAPD in reducing crime overall,” said Todd Dickey, senior vice president for administration. “However, the tragic death of Xinran Ji, shows that random criminal acts can take place in spite of our best efforts, and it further strengthens our resolve to find additional ways that we can help prevent such senseless tragedies.”


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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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