This semester the Department of Public Safety has switched its security hires, upsetting some students who believe the new employees lack knowledge and training.
In addition to DPS staff and the Los Angeles Police Department officers, USC also hires private contractors from two companies — Staff Pro and Contemporary Services Corporation — to manage security on and off campus. In the past, Staff Pro managed security inside the perimeter of campus and CSC handled off-campus safety. This meant that Staff Pro workers swiped students in at residence halls and stood guard outside each of the libraries while CSC staffers worked stations at high-traffic checkpoints — such as the Row — to provide a visible point of reference for students in case of an emergency.
CSC staffers also handled the campus entrances at night. After 9 p.m., the campus is shut off to public access. In past years, CSC workers were stationed at these gates, only allowing students, faculty and approved guests to enter campus. The recent DPS staffing decision replaced these CSC staffers with Staff Pro workers in the hopes of providing more continuity to on-campus security.
“We’ve seen that the students really do build up a relationship with the security workers who are in their dorms every night,” DPS Deputy Chief David Carlisle said. “It just makes sense to extend that familiarity to the people who are checking students in and out of campus each night.”
Staff Pro also offered a highly competitive bid to the University, making the change more cost effective, Carlisle said. The adjustment meant that 15 CSC staffers were replaced with Staff Pro employees. These employees guard the locked gates at night and also interact with people entering the school as they manage traffic through the gates. Students, however, have not been entirely pleased with the new employees.
Junior Jason Brown said that he noticed the change from CSC to Staff Pro almost immediately upon arriving on campus this year. He reported that several Staff Pro employees struggled to give him directions to landmarks such as Tommy Trojan.
“I’m concerned with Staff Pro’s ability to maintain the security of our campus,” Brown said. “[CSC employees] were friendly and helpful. They were very knowledgeable and took pride working here at USC. Most were members of the community and were here since the program started.”
Freshman Cheryl Hagan noticed the difference in personnel between her visit in early January and her time on campus this year. She said she was surprised to see Staff Pro employees making calls, texting and listening to music during their shifts, as well as treating students rudely when they entered campus.
“How are they supposed to monitor their surroundings like that?” Hagan said. “We need guards or a company that provides great customer service and has responsible employees to look out for us. Our education and our security should be important.”
Despite these complaints, Carlisle maintains that the switch from Staff Pro to CSC shouldn’t affect the quality of campus security as both companies are equally equipped to provide protection to students and faculty.
“Both of these companies perform their jobs exceptionally well, so that was never the problem,” Carlisle said. “We just wanted to provide consistency in who was dealing with our students on a day-in, day-out basis. What’s important is keeping our kids safe, and this was a good decision in keeping with that.”