Numerous measures will be added to secure public safety in and around the university, including additional Los Angeles Police Department officers, technology and education.
At a press conference in Town & Gown on Thursday, President C.L. Max Nikias, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa addressed safety of students and southwest Los Angeles, following the deaths of Ying Wu and Ming Qu, two international Viterbi School of Engineering students who were fatally shot April 11 on Raymond Avenue near University Park Campus.
“USC has a strong and lengthy partnership with city hall and with LAPD, and we are very pleased with their resolute efforts,” Nikias said. “We all care so much about the security of our students and our community … Together we are taking even greater measures to secure the safety and security of our entire USC community.”
The number of Department of Public Safety officers and Campus Cruiser drivers will increase, Nikias said. The university will also emphasize students’ education about safety.
“Safety is a shared responsibility,” Nikias said. “The safety principle [students] learn can increase their personal safety no matter where they are around the world.”
Thirty police officers have been added to LAPD’s Southwest Division, which serves the USC area, in addition to four officers and a detective specifically for USC, Beck said.
“Their task will be to make sure that the surrounding and residential areas around ‘SC where so many students live will be safe,” Beck said.
The LAPD plans to bring its predicting policing model to the Southwest Division, which has proven to be their most successful crime-fighting tool, Beck said. The focus of the tool will be property crime.
“Property crime is a feeding pool for violent crime,” Beck said. “Keeping its ‘SC property safe is the beginning of decreasing violent crime.”
DPS and LAPD will work together more closely and employ available crime-fighting technology tools, including selecting locations to install additional cameras, Beck said.
“We’re going to leverage the technology that ‘SC has employed so successfully as a crime-fighting tool around the school,” said Beck,
The LAPD and DPS changes and additions will be funded by the university.
Despite these changes, Beck said violent crime in and around the university has decreased by 27 percent in the area over the past two years, and the murder of Wu and Qu was an isolated incident.
“This is an awful singular incident, but this is not the trend in the ‘SC area,” Beck said. “This is not us trying to catch up. This is us addressing an awful singular incident.”
Beck said he could not disclose details about the investigation of Wu and Qu’s murder because of its sensitive nature, but said a resolution will be reached soon.
“I’m pleased with the progress to date,” Beck said. “I am confident in the detectives. I am confident in the investigative process going forward.”
Villaraigosa said the tragic incident affected everyone throughout Los Angeles.
“What happened a few weeks ago was not only something that affected the student body but something that tore at the heartstrings of Angelenos throughout the city,” Villaraigosa said. “Whenever young, innocent kids are brutally attacked in the way that they were, you have to say, ‘No, not in my city. No, not in our city.’”
According to Nikias, parents have contacted the university looking for information about safety around campus. He said the safety and security of every parent’s child is always on the mind of the university.
Villaraigosa said the safety of students has always been a priority for the city.
“The City of Los Angeles, ‘SC and the police department have had a strong relationship over the years,” Villaraigosa said. “We’re doing everything we can to keep the university safe.”