On Patrol: Events Done Right
Planning and community relations are just some of the ways USC’s Chief Carey Drayton keeps campus activities rewarding and positive experiences for all involved.
It’s not just policies; it’s how the venue is set up. It is how you decide to advertise the event. If you have a hip-hop artist coming to an area that this artist doesn’t [ordinarily] come to, and you’re going to broadly advertise it but you only have a small venue, why do that? You’re creating a public safety nightmare: Too many people and not enough space to put them. Or if you are going to [widely advertise], then set up an alternate venue.
These are the things that if you are not told until the last minute, there’s no way to move the show to a more appropriate venue based on the anticipated crowd. These are the things you do in the planning stages.
You should know the student leaders so you’re not meeting them on the first day of the protest. I make it a point to go meet the leaders of a new student government when it is elected. After you’ve been on campus for a while, you recognize the up and coming leaders because of other leadership roles and lesser capacities they’ve had.
The big thing is to know your community. You also have to develop a relationship with whoever is scheduling rooms because you cannot necessarily rely on group organizers. I have those people alert me that somebody is asking for a particular space. That is our entry into starting to ask those tough questions.
You have a little bit more knowledge maybe than the 20-year-olds doing the event so you can gear some of those things.
For example, when you have a controversial speaker and you have a group that’s just appalled this person is coming, the best advice we give them is to have their own event at the same time but at a different location. In some cases, those anti-events have been more successful than the events themselves.
Another example occurred at Florida State. The sweatshop group caused a lot of people concerns in local law enforcement, but they just wanted to do a march. To show law enforcement that it was going to be an OK event, I led the march for them. I walked with them in uniform; guided them the way we in law enforcement wanted them to be guided so it was not some headless entity out there just roaming the streets.
What approach does your department take when events come up unexpectedly, like parties?
Drayton: For example, somebody decided to have a couple of friends over, but those friends invited a couple more friends, and what was going to be an event of 50 people turns into a 500-person event — that happens on campuses on a regular basis. It’s not intentional. It’s just a perfect storm.
But if you have those relationships developed, when you walk into the crowd, somebody there is going to recognize you, and then you go to that group.
I had a fraternity party that got out of hand. The strategy we developed with the leadership of the fraternity was that we would go and take a couple of the leaders out in handcuffs, walk them through the crowd to show everyone we were serious about breaking up the party. Because we arrested a couple of the leaders, we had no problem dispersing the party.
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