Dear USC Community,

We are writing to provide an update on the USC Department of Public Safety (DPS) Community Advisory Board (CAB) and the status of the recommendations shared with our community last summer. We are pleased to report significant implementation work is underway and plans are now in place for a new, permanent CAB to be established next year.

During the 2020-2021 academic year, our 19-member CAB spent 10 months conducting a thorough examination of USC’s public safety practices, including hiring, finances, accountability, and bias training. To ensure an inclusive community-wide process, the CAB held dozens of co-design and small group conversations with more than 700 people from across the USC community and our local neighborhoods. We conducted an evidence-based analysis of everything we learned and studied best practices from campuses across the country.

The result of these efforts was a ONE USC Safety Vision, which describes an environment where everyone feels safe, respected, and protected from being a crime victim, and where the diverse experiences and needs of all USC students, faculty, staff, and neighbors throughout USC’s spheres of influence are addressed. To achieve these two broad goals, the CAB presented 45 recommendations grouped into four thematic pillars: accountability, alternatives to armed response, community care, and transparency.

Following the July release of the CAB’s ONE USC Safety Vision report, USC immediately formed the CAB-IT  (Implementation Team), a working group to thoroughly examine the operational path toward implementing each of the CAB’s recommendations. The group is comprised of CAB members, including us as the CAB’s co-chairs, and key staff from USC who will oversee the implementation of the CAB’s recommendations. Since September, the group has met weekly to thoroughly review each recommendation and develop an action plan. Many of the recommendations are complex and require a significant commitment of time and resources, including an examination of critical elements, such as feasibility (level of effort, dependencies, legal and financial impacts), as well as human resources and legal compliance. We expect to complete this analysis in the next few weeks and provide a comprehensive community update in January.

While significant work continues on these efforts, we are pleased to report tangible progress on implementing a number of the CAB’s recommendations:

  • Recommendation No. 1: an official, public-facing ONE USC vision statement has been drafted and is being vetted for approval before posting. This statement will guide the CAB implementation team on designing the policies and programs for the other 44 recommendations.
  • Recommendation No. 2: general guidelines, strategies, and target timelines have been drafted for the formation and operation of a permanent CAB, which will serve as an oversight body for DPS, supporting accountability and community engagement on an ongoing basis. The goal is to prepare for launch in August 2022 with representation that includes students, faculty, staff, and members of our local communities. More information will be shared soon.
  • 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 is being vetted for approval before announcing.
  • Recommendation No. 17: the Department of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences and USC Student Health are working towards the launch of an important partnership with DPS to have mental health professionals take the lead on mental health welfare checks. The majority of this special team of professionals has been hired and is undergoing training with plans for a full launch of the program in Fall 2023.
  • Recommendation No. 18: the Keck Street Medicine program, operated by the Keck School of Medicine of USC, has launched a pilot project with DPS to be the “first responders” delivering care to our unhoused neighbors around the University Park Campus. This partnership will be a template for future non- police responses for homelessness, mental health-related and community- based violence intervention support.
  • Recommendation No. 22: the first phases of expanding trauma-informed mental health resources have been implemented. This includes mental health staff having the ability to engage in 1.5 hours of monthly trauma consultation and education trainings, students presenting for care being screened for racial trauma, students having the ability to request a provider based on cultural identities who offer culturally informed care, and embedded clinicians in the Student Equity and Inclusion Programs (SEIP) to offer tailored support to the cultural centers.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to commend DPS Chief John Thomas, who has announced that he will retire on January 12, 2022. Chief Thomas has been a great, committed partner in supporting our work. The search for his successor will be conducted by a committee comprised of campus stakeholders, including members of the CAB. This will ensure that prospective candidates are evaluated through the lens of the ONE USC vision for campus and community public safety. The committee is in formation and the search process will begin later this year.

This is just the beginning. The CAB’s recommendations are significant for their breadth and scope in fulfilling the goals of re-envisioning public safety at USC. We appreciate your partnership and patience as we continue to move forward.


Dr. Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro
Dean’s Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies and Chair, Department of Political Science and International Relations
Director, USC Institute for Intersectionality and Social Transformation (USC-IIST)
Director, USC Dornsife Center for Leadership by Women of Color
Co-Chair, USC Department of Public Safety Community Advisory Board

Dr. Erroll Southers
Professor of the Practice in National & Homeland Security
Director, Safe Communities Institute Director, Homegrown Violent Extremism Studies
Co-Chair, USC Department of Public Safety Community Advisory Board