USC finds instances of racial profiling with campus security, urges more oversight

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In this undated file photo, people gather around the Tommy Trojan statue at the center of USC's campus. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In this undated file photo, people gather around the Tommy Trojan statue at the center of USC’s campus. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

More than a year after the murder of George Floyd ignited national protests over policing, USC on Wednesday unveiled recommendations to heighten scrutiny of campus safety officers after a broad review found troubling instances of racial profiling and a pervasive sense of “two USCs,” where not everyone was treated with equal fairness and respect.

The report found that 31.7% of 1,050 stops by campus officers in 2019-20 involved Black people, although they made up just 5.5% of students, 8.8% of staff, 3% of faculty and 12% of neighbors in the University Park area. Latinos were also disproportionately stopped in comparison with their presence on campus, the report found.

“When we analyzed the stops data … we flagged a huge problem,” said Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro, chair of the USC political science and international relations department who helped lead the review.

But a demand that has escalated nationwide — defunding police and abolishing their presence on campus — was not on the table. That’s because USC, as a private institution, is not legally authorized to ban police and must adhere to city and state laws requiring law enforcement access to campus, according to Erroll Southers, a longtime USC professor and expert in security and extremism studies who also led the effort.

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