Tag Archives: USC Department of Public Safety

Pasadena Police Have Three Memorandums Of Understanding With Local Colleges — Pasadena Community College — Art Center College Of Design — And Of Course Cal Tech — And Not A Single One Of Them Allows The College Cops To Operate Off Campus — It’s Actually The Opposite Here — Each Of These Agreements Lists Crimes That The Pasadena PD will Handle Even On Campus — It’s Beginning To Appear That USC Is Unique Not Only In The City Of LA But In The Whole Region — As Before Though If It’s Not Required To Let Them Operate Off Campus Then At Least There’s Some Hope — However Small — Of Changing Things

This is just a quick update on my ongoing attempt to understand why alone of all private college security forces in Los Angeles the Department of Public Safety of the University of Southern California is allowed by the Los Angeles Police Department to operate not just off campus but up to a mile off campus.

And they do in fact operate far, far off campus. They detain and handcuff people for unexplained reasons that can’t possibly have anything to do with their university. It’s a travesty and a shame. And it turns out that they are the only private college in the City of Los Angeles that’s allowed by the LAPD to do this.

Not only that but it’s beginning to appear that police in other jurisdictions really, really don’t allow this kind of thing at all. I learned recently that the LA County Sheriff has only one memorandum of understanding with any college in its jurisdiction and it explicitly does not allow them to operate off campus.

And today I received three MOUs from the Pasadena Police Department, none of which allow campus security to operate off campus. In fact, the central point of all three of these agreements is to lay out precisely which on-campus crimes will be handled by the PPD and which by campus security.

There is a great deal of detail on sexual assault and rape because colleges are bound by various federal laws to handle such crimes in very particular ways, but the explicit assumption in every case is that campus security will operate only on campus.

Here are links to them, and they’re not that interesting. But then, why should they be? There’s a transcription of the one from Cal Tech after the break, and my investigations continue.

Continue reading Pasadena Police Have Three Memorandums Of Understanding With Local Colleges — Pasadena Community College — Art Center College Of Design — And Of Course Cal Tech — And Not A Single One Of Them Allows The College Cops To Operate Off Campus — It’s Actually The Opposite Here — Each Of These Agreements Lists Crimes That The Pasadena PD will Handle Even On Campus — It’s Beginning To Appear That USC Is Unique Not Only In The City Of LA But In The Whole Region — As Before Though If It’s Not Required To Let Them Operate Off Campus Then At Least There’s Some Hope — However Small — Of Changing Things

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University Of Southern California Private Police — Are Alone Among Private College Cops In Los Angeles — In Being Allowed By The LAPD To Act As Peace Officers — And To Operate Up To A Mile Off Campus — Not Even Los Angeles Community College Cops Can Operate Off Campus — UCLA And Cal State Cops Can — But That’s Required By State Law — So Is Not Due To LAPD’s Choice — Why Does The LAPD Allow This — Especially Given The Well-Documented Abuses Of Police Power By USC Cops — Or Perhaps I Have Answered My Own Question There

As you may know, the Department of Public Safety of the University of Southern California,1 operating under a memorandum of understanding with the Los Angeles Police Department, is permitted to operate on public streets up to a mile from campus as limited-power peace officers. And as you might well imagine, they’re not using this power for socially beneficial purposes.

Their racist policies includes stops, detentions, handcuffs, interrogations of people on public streets without even a pretense that the safety of their students or their campus itself is directly involved. The racism is so blatant, so very on display, that Marqueece Harris-Dawson, an African American member of the Los Angeles City Council, has admitted that DPS even racially profiles him.

The State of California authorizes security guards working for private colleges to act as peace officers, which is legalese for having the power to arrest and probably some other stuff besides, via the Penal Code at §830.75. In order for this possibility to take effect it’s necessary for the college and the City to have a memorandum of understanding.

The law states that college security is allowed to operate within a mile of campus, but it’s not clear to me at all whether it’s mandatory that they be allowed to do so or whether their operational area can be set in the MOU. As part of my attempt to understand this and related questions about USC I’ve been collecting MOUs between various law enforcement agencies and local colleges.

I recently got a bunch of them, which you can browse here on Archive.org. They prove that USC is the only private college to which LAPD grants off-campus operating authority. Furthermore, it’s the only college in Los Angeles, public or private, to which LAPD grants off-campus operating authority voluntarily. Turn the page for links to these MOUs and more detail on what they allow.
Continue reading University Of Southern California Private Police — Are Alone Among Private College Cops In Los Angeles — In Being Allowed By The LAPD To Act As Peace Officers — And To Operate Up To A Mile Off Campus — Not Even Los Angeles Community College Cops Can Operate Off Campus — UCLA And Cal State Cops Can — But That’s Required By State Law — So Is Not Due To LAPD’s Choice — Why Does The LAPD Allow This — Especially Given The Well-Documented Abuses Of Police Power By USC Cops — Or Perhaps I Have Answered My Own Question There

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The Los Angeles County Sheriff Has Exactly One Memorandum Of Understanding With An Institution Of Higher Learning — Granting Their Security Guards Limited Police Powers — With BIOLA University — And It Explicitly States That They Are Not Allowed To Operate Off-Campus — Contrast This With The LAPD/USC Agreement — Which Allows Them To Arrest People As Much As A Mile Away From Their Borders — What The Hell, LAPD?!

The California Penal Code at §830.75 allows law enforcement agencies to grant limited police powers to university security guards by means of a memorandum of understanding. This document lays out the limits on these extraordinary powers.

The University of Southern California very famously operates a racist paramilitary police force that the LAPD has granted the power to operate and even to arrest people as much as a mile from the campus. This arrangement has far-reaching and pernicious consequences, and I’m spending some time investigating it.

One of the questions I’m looking into is whether off-campus operations are a standard concession in such agreements. To do this I’m working on getting copies of MOUs that other local law enforcement agencies have with universities. As will all CPRA-based investigations the going is really slow, but this morning I did receive some interesting material from the Los Angeles County Sheriff.

They told me that they have only one such MOU, with BIOLA University. Here’s a copy of it. And, importantly, this agreement explicitly limits BIOLA campus security to on-campus operations. They have no powers at all, let alone arrest powers, off campus.

So far, then, I have two of these MOUs. One allows wide-ranging operations on public streets. The other explicitly forbids this. It’s not enough data to draw any conclusions, but, as always, stay tuned! And turn the page for some transcribed selections from the BIOLA MOU.
Continue reading The Los Angeles County Sheriff Has Exactly One Memorandum Of Understanding With An Institution Of Higher Learning — Granting Their Security Guards Limited Police Powers — With BIOLA University — And It Explicitly States That They Are Not Allowed To Operate Off-Campus — Contrast This With The LAPD/USC Agreement — Which Allows Them To Arrest People As Much As A Mile Away From Their Borders — What The Hell, LAPD?!

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The USC Department Of Public Safety Is Well-Known For Its Racist Policing Practices — Wanna Know How Well-Known? — So Well-Known That Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson Admits That They Racially Profile People — Wanna Know How Marqueece Harris-Dawson Knows The USC DPS Racially Profiles People? — Because They Freaking Racially Profile Him! — Regularly! — He Says So On Freaking Video! — Why Is This Not Enough To Get The City To Fix This Damn Problem?

The University of Southern California calls its security guards the Department of Public Safety. It seems to be not so widely known that, with the explicit consent of the City of Los Angeles, USC security operates on public streets in a huge area surrounding the campus. And as you might expect from a troublesome and troubled institution such as USC their policing is both troublesome and troubled. It’s demonstrably racist and demonstrably outside the bounds of what the law allows them to do as security guards. The problem has been covered for years now by the incomparable Sahra Sulaiman of Streetsblog Los Angeles. See e.g.:

A Tale of Two Communities: New Security Measures at USC Intensify Profiling of Lower-Income Youth of Color

Handcuffing of Cyclist by USC Public Safety Raises Questions about Tactics, Oversight, Accountability

And if you still don’t believe that USC DPS is out of control, watch this video of Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson responding to a constituent concerned about their racist policing by revealing his own personal experiences with their racial profiling. There is, of course, a transcription after the break.1

And this revelation raises a really serious question. If even Marqueece Harris-Dawson gets treated like an “undesirable” by USC DPS, why hasn’t the City of Los Angeles done something to stop them? Why hasn’t Marqueece Harris-Dawson done something to stop them? The logistics wouldn’t be hard. What’s hard is finding political support for a solution.

The City of Los Angeles is deeply invested in the racist policies of its own police force, so how are they going to expend political capital shutting down the racist policies of their little partners at USC? USC DPS is furthering the goals of the City of Los Angeles as implemented by LAPD.

And whether out of deference to his colleague at CD9, Curren Price, in whose district USC situates, or out of respect for the wants and needs of the zillionaires who eventually come to control every council office, Harris-Dawson has made his choice to do nothing. It may not be possible to explain, but it’s so commonplace a situation in LA politics that it doesn’t really need explanation.
Continue reading The USC Department Of Public Safety Is Well-Known For Its Racist Policing Practices — Wanna Know How Well-Known? — So Well-Known That Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson Admits That They Racially Profile People — Wanna Know How Marqueece Harris-Dawson Knows The USC DPS Racially Profiles People? — Because They Freaking Racially Profile Him! — Regularly! — He Says So On Freaking Video! — Why Is This Not Enough To Get The City To Fix This Damn Problem?

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It Appears That The University Of Southern California Is In Violation Of Its Memorandum Of Understanding With LAPD — USC Police Are Required To Submit Regular Reports Describing Their Activities And Giving Various Statistics — According To LAPD Discovery In Response To A CPRA Request There Are No Reports — Given The Vast Off-Campus Area That USC Cops Cover It Is Disconcerting That There Is No Way To Know What They’re Doing — And It Is A Massive Dereliction Of LAPD’s Duty To The People Of Los Angeles That They Evidently Are Allowing USC To Shirk Its Legal Reporting Duties

So it turns out that security guards at private universities can actually be peace officers under California law if certain conditions are satisfied. This is authorized by the Penal Code at §830.75, which lists the fairly minimal conditions. They include a requirement that “[t]he institution of higher education and the appropriate local law enforcement agency have entered into a memorandum of understanding.” Once the conditions are met, the law allows the security guards to act as police officers on public property within a mile of their campus.

And the University of Southern California has taken full advantage of this opportunity, entering into the appropriate MOU with the Los Angeles Police Department so that its security guards, collectively known as the Department of Public Safety, have the arrest power and are allowed to exercise it within the boundaries of the map shown above. I obtained a copy of this MOU from LAPD under the CPRA, and it’s well worth reading.

If you’re paying attention at all you’ll have heard that this situation, with USC policing a vast off-campus area in neighborhoods whose residents are mostly poor, mostly black or brown, is intolerably abusive. Sahra Sulaiman, for one, has been writing about it for years on Streetsblog. See e.g. this 2013 overview and this more recent description of yet another appalling incident.

When the LAPD is involved in activities like this, well, it’s not so easy to stop them, but it is at least possible to use the Public Records Act to try understand what they’re up to. This is not so clearly possible with USC, since they’re a private school and not prima facie subject to the CPRA.1 But the MOU does provide for some transparency about USC operations.

In particular take a look at Article 5, which requires all kinds of reporting about police activities by USC, all of it to be submitted to LAPD.2 USC DPS is required to submit reports of significant incidents, daily reports of calls, weekly crime statistics, monthly reports of all activities pertaining to the exercise of the powers granted by the MOU, and other stuff besides.

So naturally I asked LAPD for copies of all of these reports from 2018 and 2019 under the CPRA.3 And imagine my surprise when the LAPD told me this afternoon that they didn’t have any records. They even said that they asked Southwest Division to look for them, which was the right thing to do as they’re the designated recipients under the MOU.

So if LAPD Discovery is telling the truth and no one actually has copies of all these reports that USC is supposed to submit, then USC is in violation of the MOU and they certainly ought to stop patrolling off-campus immediately and have all the powers granted to them under its terms suspended until they come back into compliance.

This isn’t just some kind of technicality, either. If USC DPS is going to operate on public property, detain and arrest citizens of Los Angeles who aren’t remotely interacting with USC property or employees, and so on, then we have a right to keep track of what exactly they’re up to. If they actually haven’t been submitting these reports, or if LAPD isn’t retaining them or is hiding them, then it’s impossible for us to understand USC’s operations on our streets, which is unacceptable.

On the other hand, obviously, it’s possible that LAPD is either lying or mistaken, either of which would be completely not at all surprising to anyone who’s dealt with them before. So I asked Southwest Division to put me in touch with whoever is their USC liason, and I asked USC senior vice something or other Todd Dickey, who signed the most recent amendment to the MOU, to please let me know what’s going on. If and when I hear back from them well, you’ll read about it here. Meanwhile, turn the page for all the transcriptions.
Continue reading It Appears That The University Of Southern California Is In Violation Of Its Memorandum Of Understanding With LAPD — USC Police Are Required To Submit Regular Reports Describing Their Activities And Giving Various Statistics — According To LAPD Discovery In Response To A CPRA Request There Are No Reports — Given The Vast Off-Campus Area That USC Cops Cover It Is Disconcerting That There Is No Way To Know What They’re Doing — And It Is A Massive Dereliction Of LAPD’s Duty To The People Of Los Angeles That They Evidently Are Allowing USC To Shirk Its Legal Reporting Duties

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