Diversity, Equity & Social Justice

Systemic Racism and the History of Policing

Seminar Complete!

Congratulations, you've completed this seminar. Let your friends and coworkers know!


What is systemic racism, and how has it affected policing? In this second installment of a three-part series exploring current and future issues related to transformative justice, the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, the Executive Master of Leadership program, the USC Price Safe Communities Institute and the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association (HAPCOA) present a webinar discussing institutional racism and the history of policing.

The panel features George Gascón, 43rd district attorney of Los Angeles County; John L. Thomas, chief of USC Department of Public Safety; and Skipp Townsend, founder and CEO of 2nd Call. Moderated by Carol Geffner, USC Price professor and Executive Master of Leadership program director. Introductions by Erroll Southers, Safe Communities Institute and Homegrown Violent Extremism Studies director and USC Price professor of the practice in national and homeland security.

Who Will Benefit

– Those who want to understand the difference between systemic racism and individual racism
– Law enforcement leaders looking to improve police officer recruitment and training models
– Those hoping to learn how we can help improve community relationships with law enforcement

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).

Carol J. Geffner, PhD is professor of the practice of governance, management and policy at USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and Director of the Executive Master of Leadership program. Geffner is well known for her thought leadership and advisory work with multi-sectorial organizations on improving human and organizational performance and the capacity for sustainable success. Geffner is particularly interested in the intersection between organizational performance, management and the discipline of psychology as a basis for her work. She is a nationally recognized speaker and thought leader on organizational change, CEO and executive team leadership and performance, large-scale transformation and application of learning theory to improving operational implementation.

Geffner has held faculty positions at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatochi Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate School and Chapman University. She has served on the Board of United Way of Orange County and the Ralph Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship at Chapman University. Geffner earned a PhD from Claremont Graduate University, a Master of Public Administration from USC and a BA degree from the University of Toronto.