Erroll Southers ’98, who regularly teaches a class at USC on homeland security issues, has been nominated by the Obama administration to run the Transportation Security Administration.
The department oversees the screening of passengers and luggage with the aim of preventing terrorists from boarding planes and to avoid the transportation of weapons and chemicals that can be used in terrorist attacks.
Southers is a USC adjunct professor with a specialty in counter-terrorism and homeland security. He is associate director of the USC Homeland Security Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security university research center where he created a certificate program aimed at working professionals whose jobs throughout the world intersect with anti-terrorism measures.
He believes that attacking terrorism requires multi-pronged approaches.
“Terrorism engages every discipline: sociology, education, physics, engineering,” he said in an earlier interview with USC. “It’s an interdisciplinary solution. As globalization increases, terrorism will not be confined to any one region or country.”
Outside of USC, Southers has served since 2007 as chief of homeland security and intelligence for the Los Angeles World Airport Police Department, where he has been in charge of counter-terrorism and security measures.
Southers earned his master’s degree in public administration at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development. He is founding member of the SPPD Alumni Association.
His past experience includes four years with the FBI, where he was part of the SWAT team, and work as a detective in the Santa Monica Police Department. From 2004-06, he served as deputy director of the California Office of Homeland Security
Southers’ nomination still needs to be confirmed. If approved, he would also be in charge of 50,000 airport screeners and be involved in discussions over whether they can join a labor union, according to news media reports. In a press release, the federal union AFGE, which represents border and customs workers, said they are looking forward to working with Southers.