DPS develops program for at-risk youth

Department of Public Safety Chief Lauretta Hill discussed ongoing issues and goals in a briefing Wednesday.

Department of Public Safety Chief Lauretta Hill said scooter theft is the biggest crime on campus. She described difficulty in distinguishing thieves and scooter owners using security cameras. Hill recommended students use DPS-suggested locks and register scooters with the department. (Simon Park / Daily Trojan)

The Community Advisory Board and the Department of Public Safety is developing a volunteer-led youth intervention program, DPS Chief Lauretta Hill said in a joint briefing with the Daily Trojan and Annenberg Media on Wednesday. The program is a facet of CAB’s recommendations to DPS in July 2021.

“[Volunteers would] intervene and say, ‘Hey, you’re going down a path that, yeah, it’s fine now, but once you start grabbing stuff, hitting people, taking stuff — it’s crimes now, it’s not just fun riding on your bicycle,'” Hill said. “That’s an opportunity for somebody other than DPS to intervene because it sounds better, and it looks better coming from somebody that’s more like them, from their community, than this law enforcement, security, armed presence.”

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DPS is working with social workers in CAB to develop the program. Hill also said DPS and CAB are working on developing alternate alarm response protocols. 

“Do you really need an armed guard to show up to your fire alarm in a residential hall? No,” Hill said.

When asked about whether DPS is considering implementing body cameras, which were not explicitly recommended by CAB, Hill said DPS is “[continuing] to look at” implementing them. She said DPS would need to discuss the issue with USC community members whom the policy would affect.

“So our plans are to continue to look in and have a discussion, but also make sure that if it’s something that we decide to do, that we’re socializing it with our community — to make sure it’s something that works here for USC,” Hill said.

USC’s 2023 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, released by DPS, revealed stalking rates in 2022 increased by roughly 300% compared to the previous year. Hill said DPS is proactive in addressing stalking; a team meets twice a week to review student-reported stalking allegations.

Scooter theft also continues to be one of USC’s most pressing issues. Hill said students should register their scooters with DPS to ensure their scooter has a chance to be recovered if stolen. She also suggested students use DPS-recommended U-locks as much as they can. 

“I know people think ‘I’m just running into a building,’” Hill said. “We know somebody is sitting around the corner … and they go, ‘It’s unsecured. I’m just gonna ride off on it.’ And we don’t know the thief from the student.”

Hill said students and the greater community should take more advantage of LiveSafe, an app that students can use to request physical or virtual escorts for unsafe walks at night and to take pictures of potential criminals to report to DPS.

She also said person-to-person crimes, such as burglaries, robberies and stalkings, are best addressed by informing the general community of precautions such as locking doors and being aware of surroundings. 

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