Safety first: USC’s safety czar shares insights on how the university creates a secure environment
Erroll Southers’ vision: “An environment where everyone feels safe, protected and respected.” Read more and watch the video.
Erroll Southers, the USC leader in charge of all aspects of safety at the university, couldn’t be better suited for his job. The longtime faculty member is a veteran of three law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.
A prominent figure in policing and now USC’s associate senior vice president for safety and risk assurance, Southers is frequently asked to weigh in on matters of national security. His vision for USC’s campuses is characteristically straightforward: “an environment where everyone feels safe, protected and respected.”
Southers recently discussed the university’s dynamic, multilayered approach to campus safety.
The seamless network includes USC’s own Department of Public Safety, which is among the largest campus safety units in the nation. A 300-person unit patrols a 2.5-mile radius around both the University Park and Health Sciences campuses, aided by a sophisticated surveillance operation. In addition, USC provides subsidized Lyft rides to all students on both campuses to ensure safe trips home.
USC’s safety and security operations are supported by local, state and federal partners who each play an active role in the university’s safety planning and response efforts. For example, USC has a formal relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department, and LAPD SWAT officers are assigned to campus at all times.
Frequent emergency preparedness drills and check-ins with peer institutions about best practices keep USC’s safety protocols in a state of continuous improvement to align to current best practices.
“We have eyes on our entire space here at the university,” Southers said.