DPS response must be quick and informative

Some students woke up Sunday morning still shaken by the events of the previous night, during which an armed gunman wounded two USC students after a confrontation escalated at a party at West 37th Place and Catalina Street.

But when most reached for their phones, there was no Trojans Alert to be found, no email from the Dept. of Public Safety and no message of reassurance from the university.

It was only through the power of our connected generation and local news coverage that most of the USC community was informed of the incident. Finally, Monday afternoon, a crime alert was issued by DPS, nearly 36 hours after the incident had occurred.

Officials from DPS told the Daily Trojan the delay was a result of non-specific descriptions of the suspect and a focus on handling the situation before alerting the community.

Simply put, that’s not enough.

Student safety is and should be the top concern of DPS and the university, and by refusing to send any kind of alert to the community until 36 hours later does not live up to the edict.

More than anything, in the hours that followed the initial reporting on the incident early Sunday, the top concern among students was the lack of an alert from any university authority, be it DPS or otherwise. Just as in a shooting last year when no alert was issued, students deserved to know.

Yes, people recognized the possibility of Trojans Alert-induced panic and concern, but mostly they just wanted to know what DPS knew.

The Trojans Alert system should aim to give students the information they need to stay safe and in short order, regardless of lack of description or resources available. That information was sorely missed early Sunday morning. At the very least, the crime alert should have been sent out earlier even if it lacked some minor details.

There has always been an uneasy relationship between the USC community and the west side of campus, one the university was slow to recognize. The university recognized the need to add security to that side and responded accordingly by bolstering security presence last year.

When violence did rear its ugly head in the area, university officials once again had the chance to step up to the plate, but this time they didn’t follow through.

4 replies
  1. Concerned Parent
    Concerned Parent says:

    This situation is reminiscent of the shooting last Spring just a few houses from my son’s home on 10th… a “safe” area. No alert, nothing… It is not up to DPS to decide what might or might not be appropriate to post. Like the news media, it should just post exactly what happened and when, as soon as possible and let the students decide what’s relevant. There was a gunman loose near campus… that’s not serious? The reputation of USC will continue to be smeared by these incidents and more so when it seems that DPS and the administration don’t find these incidents of concern.

    Think about this… what if the assailant, instead of a gun at a student’s house, had a bomb and was making threats against the university? We’ve have the Feds involved! Let’s treat all incidents with such gravity!

    On a related note, the university needs to buy up the properties around USC, improve them, and then encircle the campus…it’s the simple reality of the area….

  2. Guest
    Guest says:

    The poor thing about this article is that it does not include possible reasons that DPS did not issue a Trojan alert. A Trojan alert could have caused panic, bring unwanted attention to the immediate area, and provide the community with incorrect or inaccurate information regarding the shooting. A lot of agencies are not allowed to comment or provide details during an active investigation, and the little info they do release, has to have accurate suspect description. If DPS sent out a text “shooting on west side of campus, no further details”. What next? Who was shot? I have friends that live on the west side, was it one of them? I live in the area, I’m going to check out the crime scene. These are all things that need to be taken into consideration, which this article did not.

  3. Danielle N
    Danielle N says:

    Dear DT Editors,
    Thank you for keeping us posted with updates throughout the long weekend. Because of the fear this incident caused, I felt safer knowing exactly what was happening and how it was being handled.

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