A Message from the Chief regarding the Annual Security Report

Thursday, October 3, 2013

To the USC Community:

On October 1st, the USC Department of Public Safety released its Annual Security and Fire Safety Report for the university’s campuses and surrounding neighborhoods. In the report we corrected some numbers related to sex offenses and robberies for the years 2011 and 2010.

As noted in the report, the corrections for sex offenses and robberies were due, respectively, to a self-initiated internal review and to additional information from the Los Angeles Police Department. As a result, and in an effort to be as transparent as possible with our reporting processes, we revised the number of sex offenses up by three for 2010 and 10 for 2011, and the number of robberies were revised down by four for 2011.

Some of you have asked about the reason for the corrections. Let me provide some background on the factors that led to this review.

In May, I was made aware of a concern about possible errors in the reporting of incidents to the Los Angeles Police Department. Working with the university’s compliance office, we immediately began a review of all data and procedures related to sharing information with LAPD. During that review, we identified 13 anonymous complaints of sex offenses that had not been included in our 2010 and 2011 Clery Act statistics.

These complaints had not been made directly to DPS, but had come to us through our counseling center from victims who wished to remain anonymous. The Clery Act allows an exemption for reports made to counselors so as to provide students a safe haven. These complainants opted for anonymity and did not wish to pursue criminal charges or student judicial proceedings, and we want to respect their choice.  Nevertheless, our reporting procedures for those years did not state that the counseling center was exempt from reporting to DPS. Therefore all of the complaints should have been counted by DPS and made public as part of our Clery Act numbers.

Ultimately, it is my department’s responsibility to properly collect, record, and report all public safety incidents. I am in the process of hiring a full-time officer dedicated solely to ensuring the proper documentation of incidents reportable under the Clery Act, and to working with campus partners and others to ensure they know what the act requires.

My continuing pledge to you as your chief is that when we become aware of such issues we will address them in a transparent manner, and institute the necessary measures to ensure they are not repeated.
 

Sincerely,

John Thomas
Executive Director and Chief
USC Department of Public Safety