Students who think they’re being watched as they walk home late at night are probably right — but that’s a good thing.
When Department of Public Safety officers notice students walking alone, they will often focus their security cameras on the student to make sure they stay safe.
These “video escorts,” which have been in place for a while, are initiated by DPS when a student seems to be in a potentially harmful situation, according to DPS Capt. David Carlisle.
“We have security officers monitoring the cameras around the clock,” Carlisle said. “If it’s late at night, and if a student is walking alone, we tell officers to video escort them.”
The video escorts are limited to the 15 security cameras placed on poles on street corners and on USC property, Carlisle said. Carlisle noted that these cameras can only be placed on university property, but he could not give the exact location of the cameras for security reasons.
The cameras are on 24 hours per day, and they each have a line of sight of about a block in two different directions.
But because the security cameras are only in certain locations, video escorts are limited to particular areas. Carlisle said DPS is currently budgeting to implement significantly more cameras around campus in hopes of expanding the eye of surveillance.
“If someone was at, say, Hoover and 27th [streets], and they were to walk back to campus, we wouldn’t have cameras for all those areas they’d have to traverse to get back here,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle could not disclose how much it would cost to expand surveillance efforts, but some students think the effort may not be worth it at any cost.
“I don’t know if it would make it any safer,” said Michael Jacobs, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering. “It could be a waste of money.”
Currently, these video escorts are initiated and conducted by DPS, but Carlisle said much of the burden of safety falls on the shoulders of the students themselves.
“If a student was feeling unsafe on campus, we hope that they’d call an escort, take a cab, take Campus Cruiser or call DPS to see if an officer is available for a free ride,” Carlisle said.
Although Carlisle said the video patrols are solely for the safety and benefit of students, some students weren’t comfortable knowing that DPS may be watching them.
Krystal Rodriguez, a freshman majoring in communication, had similar feelings.
“I understand that they do all this for security and protection,” Rodriguez said. “But just the idea of having a camera follow you around is sort of creepy.”
Other students, however, said the video escorts are a good precaution to take.
“I don’t really mind,” said Chloe Cotoulas, a freshman majoring in political science. “They’re doing it for our own well-being, and I don’t mind being monitored or temporarily followed on a security camera if it means I’m going to be safer.”
Karn Chopra, a freshman majoring in economics, agreed, saying that sacrificing some privacy was worth it for the safety of the student.
“DPS is doing the right thing,” Chopra said. “I really don’t see the problem with this. It’s all for the benefit of the student.”
Annie Yuan, a junior majoring in communication and psychology, said video escorts were a good attempt at making the area safer, but said there seemed to be a few flaws in the system.
“Obviously we need more security around campus,” she said. “I know it’s not necessary everywhere, but I feel like they can’t watch everyone and I feel like some people want to be left alone.”