USC Implements DPS Community Advisory Board Recommendations

The USC Street Medicine program has started a pilot project with USC’s Department of Public Safety to be the “first responders” in providing care to the homeless population around the University Park campus.

Brett Feldman, Eddie Menacho and Gabrielle Johnson are working on the street medicine team at USC in 2019. (Photo / Chris Shinn)

The partnership will be a model for future non-police responses to homelessness, support for intervention in community and mental health-related violence, and is one of the new programs underway under the implementation by the university of the recommendations of the DPS Community Advisory Board.

After the DPS Community Advisory Board released its report earlier this year, the university began implementing several community initiatives as part of an ongoing discussion about the role of DPS at the university.

DPS Community Advisory Board: 10 months to review USC practices

In the 2020-2021 academic year, the 19-member advisory board spent 10 months reviewing USC’s public safety practices, including hiring, finances, accountability, and bias training. This resulted in the creation of the ONE USC Security Vision, which describes an “environment in which everyone feels safe, respected and protected from being a victim of crime, and where diverse experiences and needs of all USC students, faculty, staff and neighbors USC spheres of influence are discussed.

DPS agents deliver care packages

USC Department of Public Safety officers load medical packages for delivery in April 2020 (USC Photo / Gus Ruelas)

To achieve these goals, the advisory council presented 45 recommendations grouped into four pillars: accountability, alternatives to armed response, community care and transparency.

Following the July release of the ONE USC Safety Vision report, the university immediately formed the Community Advisory Board Implementation Team to consider how best to implement the recommendations.

DPS Community Advisory Board recommendations implemented

Some implementation efforts that are underway:

∙ An official ONE USC vision statement for the public has been drafted and is under review. The statement will guide the Advisory Board’s implementation team in designing policies and programs for the remaining 44 recommendations.

∙ General guidelines, strategies and target timelines have been drafted for the formation and operation of a permanent community advisory board. This board will serve as an ongoing oversight body for the DPS, supporting accountability and community engagement. The goal is to launch the new board in the spring with representation that includes students, faculty, staff and members of local communities.

∙ A public policy statement on the seriousness of racial profiling has been drafted by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and is under review.

∙ The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and USC Student Health are working to launch an important partnership with the DPS for mental health professionals to take the lead in mental health checks. The majority of this special team of professionals have been hired and are undergoing training with plans for a full program launch in fall 2023.

The first phases of the expansion of trauma-informed mental health resources have been implemented. This includes mental health staff with the capacity to participate in one and a half hours of monthly trauma consultation and education training; students seeking care are screened for racial trauma; students with the opportunity to request a culturally-based provider who offers culturally informed care; and clinicians integrated into student equity and inclusion program offices to provide personalized support to cultural centers.

A full community update is expected in early 2022.

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