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Answers about USC security and housing

The following FAQs address questions raised on social media about security and student housing around USC. USC vice president for student affairs Michael L. Jackson and Chief Carey Drayton of the USC Department of Public Safety (DPS) provided the answers with assistance from staff in USC Media Relations. Answers may be updated as circumstances change.

Are you going to “step it up” and increase security, particularly in the area west of USC?

USC in the last year alone increased the number of security cameras, license plate recognition cameras, DPS officers and private security officers west of campus.

In total, USC now has approximately 70 cameras and 50 license plate cameras in the community. There are 34 security ambassadors. The department has 260 employees.

The added security has resulted in substantially reduced crime over the past several years.

The USC Department of Public Safety is one of the largest campus law enforcement agencies in the nation. Through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), armed USC public safety officers have powers of arrest and patrol the campus and off-campus areas in vehicles, on bicycles and on foot.

Updated on April 26, 2012:

At a joint news conference on April 26, the Los Angeles Police Department, the city of Los Angeles and the university announced additional safety measures:

  • LAPD will add 30 police officers to the Southwest Division, which includes USC, and four of those will be dedicated solely to USC neighborhoods.
  • LAPD will add a detective dedicated to the area, and the L.A. City Attorney’s Office will add a neighborhood prosecutor.
  • LAPD Southwest Division will adopt Predictive Policing, a computerized system for predicting and preventing potential negative trends successfully pioneered in LAPD’s Foothills Division.
  • The USC Department of Public Safety will increase patrols by vehicle, bicycle and on foot.
  • The free nighttime Campus Cruiser taxi service will be expanded.
  • Students will receive additional safety education.

USC president C. L. Max Nikias discussed the additional safety measures for the neighborhoods around USC’s University Park campus in a joint announcement with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. LAPD, DPS and the city work closely on all aspects of crime prevention.

“This university is doing everything it can to keep the students, and this community, safe,” Villaraigosa said.

What guidance are international and graduate students given on where to find housing?

The USC Office of International Services provides a guide to off-campus housing near the USC campus. The guide notes that “Housing may be more affordable outside of the patrol areas but it is recommended for students to stay within these areas for safety reasons.” The guide provides maps to DPS patrol areas:

Under a “Safety and Security” tab, the guide also notes that “When searching for off-campus housing, it is very important to consider the safety and security of the apartment and the surrounding neighborhood.” The DPS website offers a range of information about safety in and around the University Park and the Health Sciences campuses, including crime statistics and safety resources.

Does this mean that neighborhoods outside the patrol area are unsafe?

No. Crime in the neighborhoods around USC, and in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, has dropped dramatically in recent years.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said at an April 26 news conference that violent crime in the Southwest Division, which includes USC, is down 27 percent over the past two years. According to LAPD, total violent crime in the USC area (between Adams and Exposition, and between Normandie and the 110 freeway) is down 36 percent this year compared to the same period in 2011. Violent crime in the entire city of Los Angeles has declined 78 percent from 1992.

What are you doing to inform parents and students about safety issues?

Trojans Alert, administered by DPS, allows university officials to contact students during an emergency by sending text messages and emails.

Parents and students can sign up for alerts. More than 40,000 people are signed up to receive the alerts.

Sign up at

DPS also notifies the campus community by email when a crime that constitutes an ongoing threat occurs in our area.

Why doesn’t USC provide more student housing near the campus?

USC and private developers have added thousands of student beds in recent years, and the university plans to add up to 5,200 new student beds in its proposed redevelopment of University Village. (

USC Housing also operates more than 40 facilities, including houses, residential colleges, residence halls and apartments that provide students a variety of living options ( ). And USC guarantees on-campus housing for freshmen and sophomores.

What are the crime rates around campus?

Universities are required to report crime under the federal guidelines established by the Jeanne Clery Act. Spreadsheets listing occurrences of reportable crimes are posted online, broken down by year, type of offense and the campus where they occurred. The DPS  annual security report is available by clicking here.

What do you tell parents and students about their safety?

During new student orientation for domestic and international students, DPS and Student Affairs make a presentation about safety. There also are discussions about safety immediately after students move into their campus residences at the beginning of each academic year.

There is a USC Parents Association safety committee, which meets with the chief of public safety on a regular basis to discuss security.

Safety is a shared responsibility between the individual and the university. Students are reminded that Los Angeles is an urban environment and that they should take reasonable precautions as in any large city.

Can USC add streetlights in these areas?

Over the past few years, USC had worked with the city and the Department of Urban Forestry to trim trees that block streetlights in the North University Park area. USC has funded additional light fixtures in the area and regularly inspects the area for burnt-out streetlights. Finally, the university has worked with the Department of Water and Power to install floodlights on many of the department’s utility poles in the area. The university will continue to work with the city to determine whether additional streetlights can be added.

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