University of Southern California

SCampus Student Guidebook


Public Safety

University Park Campus
(213) 740-4321 (Emergencies)
(213) 740-6000 (Non-emergencies)
Parking Structure A

Health Sciences Campus
(323) 442-1000 (Emergencies)
(323) 442-1200 (Non-emergencies)
Health Sciences Parking Structure

Department of Public Safety

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) headquarters is located on the University Park Campus, and there is a substation on the Health Sciences Campus. The department operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The authorized strength of the department is 281 full-time members and up to 15 part-time student workers, who provide a variety of law enforcement, security and other services. The full-time staff also includes 10 civilian employees, who are assigned to various administrative positions in the department.

Armed Public Safety Officers (PSOs) provide services to the two campuses. DPS Officers are police academy graduates who must pass an extensive screening process and background check before they are hired. They must then successfully complete DPS’ field training program before they are allowed to work alone. DPS enjoys an excellent working relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The university community receives not only the attention of a specialized law enforcement agency attuned to the unique needs of a campus environment, but also the vast resources of a large metropolitan police department in the event of an emergency.

DPS also has unarmed Community Service Officers (CSOs), who complement the services provided by the PSOs. Most CSOs are assigned to the Operations Bureau and provide security services to the University Bookstore, the University Village Shopping Center, Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center on HSC, university-owned residential complexes and other campus facilities. CSOs also monitor card-key-access, CCTV systems, and a variety of intrusion and fire/life safety alarm systems.

DPS’ 24-hour communications center coordinates and supports the activities of field personnel. Public Safety Communication Operators (PSCOs) coordinate communication among the campus community and the officers who are providing services in the field. The communications center also provides dispatch services for USC’s Transportation Services and monitors several other radio frequencies, including the LAPD officers assigned to the area.

Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the LAPD, DPS Officers (PSOs) have limited arrest authority. The primary responsibility of DPS is the protection of the university community. The statutory authority for the existence of DPS, patrol and response boundaries, authority to carry firearms and powers of arrest are derived through an MOU with the LAPD, the California Penal and Educational Codes, and the Bureau of Investigation and Security Services section of the California Business and Profession Code. The MOU with LAPD allows DPS Officers (PSOs) to exercise arrest powers described in Penal Code Section 830.7(b). All arrests must be conducted in accordance with guidelines outlined by the MOU, and all arrestees must be delivered to an LAPD officer without unnecessary delay.

Other services performed by DPS include: the provision of a wide variety of written and online materials on crime prevention; presentation of crime and rape awareness seminars; security surveys of offices and apartments on or near both the University Park and Health Sciences campuses; bicycle registration; and personal property identification. For more information, call the Crime Prevention and Community Education Unit at (213) 740-9565. You may also find DPS on Facebook by searching “USC Department of Public Safety.”

The primary goal of DPS is to provide a safe and secure environment in which the social and academic endeavors of the university community may be fully realized. To achieve this goal, the department needs students’ cooperation and support in reporting incidents, taking advantage of the services the department provides and complying with basic crime prevention practices.

DPS publishes an annual security report that includes crime information for the previous three calendar years. The report is available for viewing online at

Blue Light Phones

For emergency situations, more than 400 emergency “blue light” phones have been strategically located in many buildings, each parking structure (on every level) and on the campus grounds. Many of these emergency phones are easily identified by the blue emergency lights on top of the phone booth. They provide a direct line to the Public Safety office and should be used only under emergency conditions.

To report an emergency from a landline or cellular device, call (213) 740-4321 (University Park Campus) or (323) 442-1000 (Health Sciences Campus). For general information regarding department activities, policies or available services, call (213) 740-6000 (University Park Campus) or (323) 442-1200 (Health Sciences Campus) or stop by either office to speak with members of the staff.

One comment on “Public Safety”

  1. John Mac Says:

    We have these kind of phones at my school (UT Austin). Ours are the triangle shaped emergency phones kinda like these which is nice because they are also brightly colored. I’m writing this because last week I actually used one when a guy tried to force me to go to the ATM and get him money. Whey I ran over and pressed the button he ran off like Forrest Gump! One thing that I think made the difference is that ours are installed with security cameras so potential thieves don’t won’t to have their face seen near the things.

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