How universities create safe environments



Errol Southers, the University of Southern California’s leader in charge of overall university safety, could not have asked for a better person for the job. A longtime teacher, he is a veteran of three law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.

Southers, a prominent figure in the law enforcement community and currently senior vice president for safety and risk assurance at the University of Southern California, is frequently asked to weigh in on national security issues. His vision for USC’s campus is characteristically simple: “An environment where everyone feels safe, protected, and respected.”

Mr. Southers recently discussed the university’s dynamic, multi-layered approach to campus safety.

The seamless network includes USC’s own Department of Public Safety, one of the largest campus safety departments in the nation. A force of 300 patrols a 2.5-mile radius of both University Park and the Health Sciences campus, supported by advanced surveillance operations. Additionally, USC is providing subsidized Lyft rides to all students on both campuses to ensure a safe journey home.

USC’s safety and security operations are supported by local, state, and federal partners, each of whom plays 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 his SWAT officers from the LAPD are stationed on campus at all times.

Through frequent emergency preparedness drills and check-ins with peer institutions on best practices, USC’s safety protocols continue to continually improve to align with current best practices.

“We’re looking at the entire space here at the university,” Southers said.

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