Diversity, Equity & Social Justice

Policing While Black

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The relationship between police and the community has been at the forefront since George Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020. However, the perspective of Black law enforcement professionals hasn’t always been part of that conversation. This panel will explore what it’s like policing while Black in today’s society and how to fight institutional racism and white supremacy from within police departments.

This panel is organized by the Safe Communities Institute, the USC Black Alumni Association and the Department of Public Safety. Featuring Erroll G. Southers, professor of the practice in national and homeland security, director of the Safe Communities Institute and director of Homegrown Violent Extremism Studies; John Thomas, chief of the USC Department of Public Safety; Skipp Townsend, executive director of 2nd Call; Daryl Glover, Beverly Hills Police Department officer; Kilynda V. Ray, Dallas Police Department psychologist; and Maury Sumlin, Santa Monica Police Department sergeant.

Who Will Benefit

– Those looking to learn about the history of policing in the U.S. and its roots to the institution of slavery
– Law enforcement members who want to unpack how they can bridge the gap between Black communities and the police
– Those hoping to support Black law enforcement members seeking mental health services

About Our Featured Faculty

John Thomas is chief of the USC Department of Public Safety (DPS). Prior to USC, he spent 21 years as a member of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), where he retired at the rank of lieutenant in December 2005 to accept a position as deputy chief of police for the University of the District of Columbia Department of Public Safety and Emergency Management in Washington D.C. At USC, he was promoted to DPS assistant chief in 2009 and became chief in 2013.

While at the LAPD, Chief Thomas worked patrol assignments in Wilshire, 77th Street, Southwest, Newton Street and Pacific Divisions. He was also assigned to the LADP Gang Enforcement Detail in South Los Angeles, Operation South Bureau CRASH and worked undercover narcotic enforcement as a member of the Department’s FALCON (Focused Attack Linking Community Organizations and Neighborhoods) Unit. While assigned to FALCON, he was awarded the City of Los Angeles’ City Angel Award for outstanding community enhancement and the Department’s Meritorious Unit Citation.

Chief Thomas holds a BA in Political Science/Liberal Arts and a master’s in executive leadership from the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. He has been on the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Police Historical Society since 1999. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Police Officers’ Association of Los Angeles County (POALAC).

Erroll Southers is a professor of the practice in national and homeland security, director of the Safe Communities Institute (SCI), and director of Homegrown Violent Extremism Studies in the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. He is a former FBI special agent, who has served in counterterrorism and public safety positions at every level of government. Southers was President Barack Obama’s first nominee for Transportation Security Administration assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s appointee as deputy director for Critical Infrastructure of the California Office of Homeland Security, where he led the identification, prioritization and protection of the state’s potential terror targets, the nation’s largest such dataset. He served as assistant chief of Homeland Security and Intelligence at the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department, police officer and gang investigator with the Santa Monica Police Department and enjoyed the distinction of being a member of FBI SWAT.

Southers arrived at USC in 2003, where he began as an adjunct professor in the USC School of Policy Planning and Development. His work spans many fields including counterterrorism, homegrown violent extremism, terrorist recruitment and radicalization, critical infrastructure protection and community resistance to terrorism. Southers earned his undergraduate degree from Brown University, and he holds master’s and doctoral degrees in public policy from USC.