LAPD Chief Charlie Beck called Friday for an investment in community partnerships to keep school campuses safe at an event of educators, university security officials, professors and others.
Addressing a sold-out crowd of the Campus Safety Conference at the Radisson Hotel near USC, Beck emphasized the importance of establishing key relationships and having a plan in place to keep everyone safe should a crisis arise.
“It’s not the work that is glamorized in media. It’s not always the chasing of evil. It’s putting money in the bank -- putting money into that bank of trust, putting money into the bank of preparation -- so when you need to draw on it, and you will, there’s something there,” Beck said. “We don’t live in a world of ‘if.’ We live in a world of ‘when.’”
His words rang especially true to attendees. Last week, 24-year-old Xinran Ji, a USC graduate student, was assaulted and killed near campus. Four teenagers were arrested and charged with capital murder in the case.
At least 10 people have been violently injured or killed near the campus since 2008, including in a 2012 incident when a gunman open fired at a Halloween party near campus. Such incidents have prompted campus safety officials to boost security measures on and around campus.
Robin Hattersley Gray, executive editor of Campus Safety Magazine, which hosted the event, said that dedicating more resources to public safety and security, mental health services and more teachers could help tamp down such dangerous incidents. She agreed with Beck that community trust, collaboration and increased communication are also essential.
“Even if there’s just one situation that’s unacceptable, ... that’s why we’re here,” Gray said in an interview. “We know that campus security professionals learn a lot from their peers.”
Beck said that crime across the nation is at a historic low, and that he attributes contemporary safety challenges to a tremendous disparity between the wealthy and poor, fiscal circumstances that prevent entities from investing in as much security as they would like and the sheer volume of active shooters in recent years.
“We face uncertain challenges that go far beyond what the people who preceded us had ever had to face,” Beck said.
He hopes that the community can come together to be accountable for their own safety.
"None of us are big enough to put a cop on every corner, not even the Los Angeles Police Department. Nor do we want to live in a country where there's a cop on every corner," Beck said. "The goal is to build a community's ability to police itself, and when that fails to cooperate with a police entity to bring justice."