February 17, 2022

By Betti Halsell

Staff Writer


Following the retirement of Chief John Thomas in January, the University of Southern California (USC) announced a nationwide search for its next Department of Public Safety (DPS) Chief. As of Monday, February 14, Associate Senior Vice President, Safety and Risk Assurance, Dr. Erroll G. Southers has been leading focused meetings that are open to the public.

Southers has been navigating different methods of research which includes a diverse 22-person multidisciplinary search committee comprised of academic staff, students, and community representatives, and an external firm to bolster the university's work in finding the best candidate. As they develop and assess their applicant pool, the university is extending its ears towards the community.

Southers has used a variety of research approaches, including a 22-member multidisciplinary search committee is composed of academia, undergraduates, and members of the public, as well as an outside firm, to aid the university in selecting the optimal applicant. The most recent meeting was on Monday at 6 a.m. with DPS staff, the consensus surrounded the nature of empathy and having a sense of humanity for staff members.

Southers stated, “We’re duplicating the effort of last year—we had the community advisory board. That process worked very well, in terms of getting information, getting consensus, and getting input.” He went on to share the benefits of having a bridge between the campus and the community. 

USC has also appointed a knowledgeable external organization to promote the university's initiatives. The hired organization was also brought in for review by the selection committee before moving forward with their guidance.

The USC DPS Chief Search Committee is holding a series of public input sessions beginning on February 14. that input will be "critical in determining the most important qualities our next Chief should possess, "input will be "critical in determining the most important qualities our next Chief should possess."

In the announcement of the open call for community input, Dr. Southers stated, 

“My intention is to successfully implement the ONE USC Safety Vision described in last year’s DPS Community Advisory Board report through this appointment.” 

Southers continued, “The ONE USC Safety Vision imagines a USC where everyone feels safe, respected, and protected from being a crime victim while recognizing that we can only achieve that goal by addressing the diverse experiences and needs of all USC students, faculty, staff, and neighbors throughout USC’s spheres of influence.”

The USC DPS Chief Search Committee is also looking for someone who will sustain the other structural details highlighted in the DPS Community Advisory Board report, such as "reimagining public safety, community care, alternatives to armed response, transparency, and accountability."

The USC DPS Chief Search Committee is also searching for candidates aligned with the structural details noted in the DPS Community, like reimagining community health and alternatives to alternatives to armed confrontation, integrity, and personal accountability.

The dates available for community input are the following: 

• Monday, February 14, 2-3 p.m.

• Wednesday, February 16, 6-7 p.m.

• Friday, February 18, 9-10 a.m.

• Tuesday, February 22, 3-4 p.m.

• Thursday, February 24, 6-7 p.m.

• Saturday, February 26, 10-11 a.m.

One can register for any of the above sessions on the DPS Chief Search webpage, it also includes additional information about recruitment, such as review panel information and the sequence of events the university is working toward.

Many community members participated in the DPS CAB Co-Design Public Safety Sessions. This helped define the official report which was published over the summer. The community is an essential factor in the advancement of the ONE USC Safety Vision, and their perspectives play a vital role in identifying the next emergence of public safety at USC and in the communities that surround the campuses.

Dr. Southers shared the current progress of the search, by stating, “It has been encouraging and enlightening to see people who have been in the department for 10 to 15 years.” He continued, 

“We have a Trojan family, and we are really proud of that. The fact that they had an opportunity to have some input in their next leader—makes me feel special and hopefully make them feel special as well.”

Category: Community