To:                  USC Community

From:             Erroll G. Southers

Associate Senior Vice President, Safety and Risk Assurance

Date:               January 12, 2022

Subject:          Interim DPS Organizational Leadership

As the spring semester begins, I am pleased to announce the following interim Department of Public Safety (DPS) organizational changes, effective on Thursday, January 13.

As previously announced, John Thomas is retiring from his position as Chief of DPS. Today is his last day in that role. On behalf of the university, I thank him for his 15 years of service. During his nine years leading DPS, Chief Thomas successfully professionalized the department by significantly enhancing officer training standards, using a data-driven system to track and combat crime, establishing and helping to implement the unified command process for USC football games, and continually evaluating and implementing best practices for campus safety.

We are grateful that John has agreed to remain with the university as a special advisor, reporting directly to David Wright, our Senior Vice President for Administration. John will assist with the transition of his successor, while also supporting the DPS Community Advisory Board (CAB) Implementation Team and continuing to serve as a liaison with local community and law enforcement agencies. 

In my new role for the university, I will be responsible for the hiring process and management of John’s successor. Working together with USC’s senior leadership, we have created a diverse 22-person multidisciplinary search committee – including faculty, staff, students, and community stakeholders – that I will chair. The committee has agreed on the appointment of an expert external firm to conduct a national search for a candidate that aligns with the ONE USC Safety Vision described in last year’s DPS CAB Advisory Board report. The process is now underway, and details on how all of you will be able to add your respective voices will be shared soon.

During our search, Assistant Chief David Carlisle will serve as Interim DPS Chief, reporting to me. He will be responsible for managing the department until our new, permanent chief is appointed.

David has been a key leader for DPS over the past 15 years, having originally joined the university in 2006 as a captain. Most recently, David served as Assistant Chiefwith command oversight of the Office of Community Safety & Accountability, and he acted as DPS’ second in command. 

Prior to USC, David spent his career with the Whittier Police Department, retiring as a captain, and was responsible for leading an entire division, including detectives, crime analysis, forensics (CSI), and all contract law enforcement services provided to Whittier’s neighboring city of Santa Fe Springs.

David earned his undergraduate degree in criminal justice from California State University, Fullerton, and he holds both a master’s degree in management from Cal Poly Pomona, and an executive master’s degree in leadership from USC. 

David’s extensive experience both in law enforcement and at USC will be a tremendous asset during this interim period.

Director Robin Tilley has been appointed Interim DPS Executive Officer, directly reporting to David Carlisle, with a dotted reporting line to me. Robin originally joined DPS in 1988 and is the most tenured member of the current DPS Command Staff.

Her expanded responsibilities come in addition to her current role as Director of the Support Services & Technology Bureau for the department, where she oversees our critical dispatch, camera, and fire/life intrusion alarm operations. She also has responsibility over the department’s specialized equipment and technology, while managing DPS facilities and fleets.

Robin began working at DPS as an information clerk while she was still an undergraduate student at USC. She subsequently became a dispatcher and consistently rose through the ranks, assuming increased roles and responsibilities within the department.

Robin earned her bachelor’s degree in public administration from USC in 1994. Robin’s extraordinary experience and expertise has been a critical asset to DPS for many years, and we look forward to her continued leadership in this important interim assignment.

I want to take this opportunity, on behalf of the university, to thank John Thomas, David Carlisle, and Robin Tilley for agreeing to accept these critical roles during this transitional period and for providing us with organizational and operational consistency and stability during the DPS Chief search process. Please join me in wishing them well in their new assignments.