Crime rates around USC follow a downward trend since the pandemic

High profile incidents skew crime perception.

Despite some students’ perception of a crime rise during the pandemic, the Department of Public Safety reports that crime rates surrounding USC’s campus have decreased since last year.

According to USC’s Department of Public Safety, property crime has decreased by 59%, and crimes against people have decreased 44%, DPS Assistant Chief David Carlisle said in an interview with Annenberg Media. DPS also reported a 15% reduction in robbery and a 13% reduction in sex offenses in 2020.

Even with a downward trend, some students’ felt concerned about crimes near campus after a recent stabbing incident involving a student in February.

Dylan Sachs, a sophomore living in the Shrine Apartments, said her perception of the area has changed during the pandemic, as she’s more aware of what’s happening around her now that she is living in an apartment near campus.

“Sometimes the alerts stick with me, but it depends on what the alert is about,” said Sachs, who studies economics. “The more personal stories stick with me like attacks on people near campus.”

Carlisle said students may have noticed an increase in “high profile” crime alerts around campus, which likely caused the perception of increased crime rates.

“I say a person’s perception of safety is just important, as important as the crime numbers,” Carlisle said. “If we put out a crime alert saying that a student was stabbed ... parents are going to become upset and rightfully so. That doesn’t mean that violent crime has increased. It’s just that there have been some high-profile cases.”

Although crime rates have fallen, the stigma surrounding South L.A. has historically painted the region as dangerous to some USC students.

“It’s good to hear that the violence around our USC community has lowered,” said Kevin Camargo, a senior majoring in communication who grew up near USC for seven years. “That’s also beneficial to the people living in South L.A. [as] we’re able to show that South L.A. is not a home of violence but there’s communities that’s been overlooked because of stereotypes.”

Similar to the DPS statistics, robberies and rapes dropped significantly in Los Angeles as a whole.

Carlisle emphasized that anyone can report a crime to DPS, not just students, which greatly increases the frequency in which students receive DPS Crime Alerts. DPS continues to urge students to stay alert, travel in groups, and utilize the resources provided to them by DPS.

Across the nation, these trends remain relatively consistent with lower rates of home burglaries and drug offenses, likely due to stay-at-home orders and lockdowns. The Public Policy Institute of California reports that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, overall crime rates are at an all-time low in the South L.A. region, along with other major cities since the fall of 2020.