Frequently Asked Questions

General 

What is the difference between a Public Safety Officer (PSO) and Community Service Officer (CSO)?
At USC DPS, we have two different levels of officers. Public safety officers are officers that are trained at the police academy, with peace officer powers of arrest. Community safety officers are unarmed security officers who are licensed by the state. PSOs wear dark blue uniforms, and CSOs wear light blue uniforms.

Does DPS work with LAPD? If so, what is the relationship?
As a private university, we have private campus public safety officers. DPS has a memorandum of understanding – as required by California law – with the Los Angeles Police Department that defines its jurisdictional boundaries and authority to enforce the law and to investigate crime.

 

Authority

Do DPS officers use firearms?
Only public safety officers, who are police academy-trained and appropriately licensed, carry firearms.

Do DPS officers make arrests?
Only public safety officers have the authority to make arrests, not community service officers. But most often, DPS works to enforce student conduct policies in collaboration with the university’s internal disciplinary office, Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, known as SJACS.

What area does DPS patrol?
DPS patrols an area of approximately 2 ½ square miles around the University Park Campus and 1 square mile around the Health Sciences Campus.

Why does DPS patrol off-campus?
Many students, faculty, and staff live off campus in university- and privately-owned housing in the community surrounding USC. DPS patrols these areas to provide a safe environment for the residents.

Are DPS officers police officers?
No. DPS officers are private campus public safety officers. DPS public safety officers are empowered with peace officer powers of arrest through California Penal Code section 830.7(b).

Do DPS officers write citations?
DPS officers are authorized to issue citations for specific Los Angeles Municipal Code violations and California Vehicle Code violations by bicyclists and pedestrians.

 

Policies and Procedures 

What is DPS’s use-of-force policy?
The DPS use of force policy mandates that officers shall only use force that reasonably appears necessary to accomplish the lawful objectives of the situation. The policy also includes a use of force continuum that establishes the appropriate level of force an officer may use based on the actions of the subject. Our policy is similar to the policies of other law enforcement and public safety agencies and is based on statutory and case law. As a result of recent events, DPS is reviewing our use of force policy and is likely to make changes based on recent changes in state law and evolving best practices. Please note, DPS does not authorize the use of lateral vascular or other neck restraints.

What criteria do DPS officers use to establish “suspicion?”
There are a number of ways “suspicion” can be established, including radio calls for service, officer’s individual observation (based on an individual’s actions, time of day, whether the location is open or closed, and numerous other factors), witness observations, and crime trends (bike thefts, burglaries, robberies in certain areas at specific times). Suspicion must be articulated by the individual officer and is used to investigate possible criminal behavior. Probable cause to arrest is very different from suspicion.

Where can I file a complaint?
Complaints against DPS employees can be made at any time in person, by phone or by e-mail. Anyone wishing to make a complaint may request to speak to a supervisor and express their desire to make a complaint. It is the policy of DPS to investigate all complaints against DPS employees. The phone number for DPS Communications is (213) 740-6000, and the phone number for the Watch Commanders’ Office is (213) 740-5523. The e-mail address to make commendations, complaints, or other is dpsfeedback@usc.edu.

Who at DPS adjudicates complaints of bias?
All complaints of bias by DPS employees are referred to the USC Office of Equity and Diversity (OED) for investigation and adjudication.

 

Hiring and Onboarding

Are background checks done before hiring officers?
DPS public safety officers undergo a full state-approved law enforcement background investigation prior to hiring.

How does DPS recruit new officers?
One of the most common recruitment tools is referrals. Recruiters also attend recruitment events that are specific to law enforcement or criminal justice. Moving forward, recruiters plan to tap into veterans and any associations current employees belong to as veterans or former peace officers outside of DPS.

 

Training

What type of training are DPS officers required to undergo?
Public safety officers have completed a California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified Level I Academy or equivalent out of state training. PSOs also complete a minimum of 24 hours of continued professional training every two years as required by the California Commission on POST.

Other trainings for all DPS officers include: EH&S awareness; defensive driving course (DDC); first aid / CPR; workplace conduct; Campus Save Act (Clery); sexual assault awareness; non-violent crisis intervention (CPI); fire safety and workplace injury prevention; MACTAC (Multi-Assault, Counter Terrorism Action Capabilities); and, tactical firearms. The information from these trainings are regularly reiterated in the daily roll call briefing sessions that officers attend every day.

What types of bias training do DPS officers undergo, and how often?
DPS officers complete the following bias trainings bi-annually (every other year): racial profiling; cultural diversity; constitutional policing; and, implicit bias. DPS officers receive approximately 10 hours of bias and related training annually. This training is presented to the officers throughout the course of the year, in both dedicated training sessions and daily roll call briefing sessions, exceeding the California POST mandate that officers receive two hours of this training bi-annually.

 

CSC Neighborhood Ambassadors, or “Yellow Jackets” 

What is the role of Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC)?
CSC is a private security company contracted by the university to provide unarmed security officers, or “Yellow Jackets” as they are commonly called. The “Yellow Jackets” are an additional layer of security strategically deployed in the campus community and serve as the “eyes and ears” in our layered approach to safety. They have a direct connection to contact DPS should the need arise for DPS assistance.

How can I get a Yellow Jacket in my area?
DPS routinely evaluates the location of the “Yellow Jackets” based on security needs and student housing trends.