Last update: Sunday, February 10
On February 4, 2019, SB 793 was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly; HB 1094 was introduced February 8, 2019. This legislation incorporates our 2019 proposal and would authorize Johns Hopkins to establish a small, community-oriented and research-backed university police department – one that is accountable to the public and subject to state and local government oversight. This legislation also includes a series of proposals to help address the root causes of crime through investments in community development, youth engagement and economic opportunity. We believe that this comprehensive approach to public safety will strengthen our communities while also upholding the highest standards of transparent, constitutional, equitable and community-based policing. It is an approach that reflects the best practices that emerged from months of careful study and community discussions, described in our Interim Study Report.
The bill text is available online at the Public Safety Initiatives website here along with additional resources and information. You can also access this legislation and check its status on the Maryland General Assembly’s website.
The frequency and severity of violent crime on and around our campuses and across the city of Baltimore is untenable, and active shooters in Maryland and across the U.S. have tragically targeted schools and places of employment with disturbing frequency. After nearly a year of careful study and community discussions, it is our firm conviction that a small, university-based, community-oriented and research-backed police department is essential to address these unacceptable levels of violence in and around our campuses.
A Johns Hopkins police department, accountable to our community, the city and the state, would be empowered to address violent crime, including active shooters, closing a gap in our current security operation.
Importantly, a university-based police department would allow us to set the highest standards for our public safety operation – the same high standards that we apply across our whole university and that are in line with our values.
Yes. Over the course of the last year Johns Hopkins committed to a vigorous research program that included a review of available academic literature about public safety and university policing, peer benchmarking and identification of best practices. We reviewed scores of scholarly articles on a wide range of relevant topics from the root causes of violent crime to the impact of policing approaches on different groups of people.
To better understand prevailing approaches to public safety in academic settings, we surveyed the security models at over 50 peer universities, with a particular focus on urban peers. This survey included all 21 of Johns Hopkins’ peers in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. areas, both public and private. We also examined the practices of select municipal and county police departments – both in Maryland and nationally – that have strong reputations for fair and impartial policing and/or recent, innovative approaches to police reform.
Our examination of peers and the relevant academic literature yielded a number of valuable insights around how public safety organizations are structured, what values should guide our public safety approaches and which practices work best at reducing violent crime and advancing procedural justice. These findings are described in detail in the Interim Study Report, particularly on pages 19 – 26.
The frequency and severity of violent crime on and around our campuses and across the city of Baltimore is untenable and by many measures has been increasing.
From 2014 through 2017, aggravated assaults – which include non-fatal shootings – increased 350 percent across all Johns Hopkins Baltimore campuses. Robberies, including armed robberies and car-jackings, increased 250 percent. During the same period the neighborhoods surrounding the Homewood campus experienced a 33 percent increase in violent crime, with robberies increasing 62 percent. On our East Baltimore campus, aggravated assaults increased by 1000% from 2014. And the neighborhood around Peabody saw a 67 percent increase in violent crime with aggravated assaults increasing by 70 percent.
This rise in violent crime on and near our campuses has taken place in the context of troubling trends in active shooting incidents around the country. On college campuses, the FBI reported fifteen active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2017, with 70 people killed and 73 injured. Thirteen of these incidents occurred in the last ten years.
When active shooter threats occur, it is essential to have the law enforcement capability immediately available in order to neutralize the threat quickly. The most effective way to do this on our large and complex campuses is for dedicated security personnel to be close at hand, well-equipped, well-trained and deeply familiar with the facilities and environment.
In the spring of 2018, per the request of the Maryland State Legislature, we engaged in a deeply collaborative and comprehensive process to hear a broad range of viewpoints on the issue of security on and around our campuses.
To gather additional community input and share resources, we launched a website that invites feedback and provides information on our current security operations, including crime data for our Baltimore campuses, relevant resources on university public safety approaches and extensive FAQs. Feedback will be welcome on our site and throughout the legislative process in Annapolis, including via the public committee hearings that will be held in both chambers.
If SB 793 and HB 1094 pass the Maryland General Assembly and the legislation is signed into law, Johns Hopkins University and the BPD would begin a process of negotiating an MOU to establish a university police department. Following this negotiation, the proposed MOU would be posted on a publicly available website and presented to community members during at least two public forums – one near the Homewood and Peabody campuses and the other near the East Baltimore Campus. Notice of public forums would be provided at least 10 days in advance.
The Baltimore City Council and the public would have 30 days to review the proposed MOU and submit written comments to the university. If a final MOU is agreed to by all parties, the university will publicly post a copy online (which is not a requirement or practice of other university police departments).
If a Johns Hopkins university police department is established, the legislation includes a requirement that we publicly report the department’s community outreach efforts each year.
We are dedicated to creating a police department that is public-facing, public-serving, and publicly accountable. If the proposed bill passes, we will be required to build community accountability and oversight within the police department through three primary avenues, all included in the legislation:
First, we would establish a Police Accountability Board, which would include representation from community residents living in the areas around the university, as well as students, faculty and staff. The accountability board would enable community members to share concerns regarding the university police department directly with department leadership, review department metrics, provide feedback on existing department policies and practices and offer recommendations for improving those policies and practices. This board would be required by law to meet at least quarterly, including publicly at least once a year, to review police department data and assess police department policies, procedures and training. Minutes from all meetings would be posted online.
Second, we would include civilians in the state-mandated administrative hearing board that reviews internal police misconduct findings. Under state law, police officers who have been found through an internal agency investigation to have engaged in misconduct are entitled to a hearing by an administrative hearing board. In most of Maryland, this hearing board is composed of other police officers – in fact, Maryland law requires a hearing board to contain at least three members (a majority) who are police officers. We would seat two civilians, the maximum allowed under law, as voting members on this board, with one of those being a community member and the other being a university affiliate. The Johns Hopkins Police Department would become only the second police department in Maryland to allow civilians to sit as voting members on the hearing boards.
Third, we would submit the Johns Hopkins police department to Baltimore’s Civilian Review Board (CRB). This board – composed of residents from across the city – reviews city police agencies’ handling of serious police misconduct complaints and makes recommendations for improvement. Only two other city universities are currently under the CRB’s purview.
Together, these accountability measures provide more public and community oversight than any other Maryland law enforcement body.
For more information about our commitments to accountability and transparency please visit the Public Safety Initiatives website here.
The central test of a community-oriented, harm-reducing public safety operation is how its staff
treat those they encounter. Some in the community understandably view public safety operations as something to be feared, not welcomed. Officers in a Johns Hopkins police department would always be expected to act professionally, respectfully and with restraint. Johns Hopkins would require training in preventing racial profiling and combatting implicit bias, which can impact decisions about whom to stop and how invasive a stop will be.
Racial and ethnic profiling by security and law enforcement, at Johns Hopkins or elsewhere, is wholly unacceptable. It undermines security and is antithetical to constitutional and community policing. We unequivocally believe that safety and security go hand in hand with respect for civil rights and civil liberties, and we will hold our security team accountable to that standard. Racial and ethnic profiling is a serious concern across the nation, and we view the creation of a new police department as an opportunity to create a best-in-class model that can serve as an example of how to prevent and avoid bad police practices.
Several of our specific commitments in this area can be found in Appendix P1 and Appendix P2 of the Interim Study Report and our further commitments around transparency and accountability can be found here. Our commitments include recruiting officers with a track record of positively serving diverse communities, establishing clear rules and training for officer-civilian interactions that emphasize respect for all people, using body-worn cameras to promote officer accountability during these interactions, requiring officers to identify themselves and explain the JHPD complaint process and using tracking and data analysis of stops to identify and address any inappropriate treatment of minorities.
Regarding misconduct, Johns Hopkins understands that a relationship of trust and confidence between its police department and the broader Johns Hopkins community – including residents of the neighborhoods around the university’s campuses – is essential for the department to effectively serve and protect. At the heart of this relationship is accountability.
As police are authorized to exercise certain powers – the powers to stop, search, detain, arrest and use force – it is paramount that Johns Hopkins and surrounding communities trust that its officers use those powers appropriately, and that they are held properly accountable if those powers are abused or misused. Johns Hopkins has identified best practices through its survey of complaint and disciplinary processes at municipal, county and peer university police departments across the country. These best practices would be incorporated into the university police department administrative complaint and disciplinary processes and include timely and professional processing of complaints, annual reporting of the number and types of formal complaints received and the disciplinary action taken and the creation of an internal affairs unit to investigate complaints that reports directly to the police chief. Additional detail on best practices can be found in Appendix P5 of the Interim Study Report and in summary form here.
Yes. The ability to design a university police department from the ground up to address the issues confronting a university community would be a strong corollary to our ongoing efforts to prevent and address sexual assault and misconduct. In fact, in doing our research for this safety initiative, we were encouraged to learn that several experts credit university police departments with being more effective than municipal police departments in addressing campus sexual assault due to their ability to adopt specific training and practices that are trauma-informed, to provide victim support and to aid in investigations.
Today, members of the Johns Hopkins security team, including any future university-based police officers, are required to understand the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures, to complete specific training in sexual assault issues and incidents and to fully inform any potential victims about their options, including those available within the university process. The University maintains a daily crime log, issues public safety notices and delivers annual Clery Act and Office of Institutional Equity reports that provide data to the public on reported sexual misconduct.
Future university police officers would be specially trained to work with individuals reporting sexual misconduct. As with all serious crimes, if the victim were to choose to report a sexual assault for criminal investigation, the university police officers would be able to assist in an investigation as an alternative to going directly to the BPD. The university police would also work closely with the JHU Office of Institutional Equity to ensure compliance with the JHU Sexual Misconduct Policy & Procedure.
Training for a Johns Hopkins-based police department would include significant focus on the core values of our institution, including free expression, diversity, equity, inclusion, accountability and transparency. Specifically, Johns Hopkins would require newly hired officers to complete training on the following topics:
- Preventing racial profiling and combatting implicit bias
- Cultural and LGBTQ awareness and competence
- Community policing, including understanding community expectations and reservations around policing in their city
- Procedural justice in police-citizen interactions
- Active bystandership in policing
- De-escalation techniques
- Crisis intervention, including detecting behavior that calls for a medical and/or mental health intervention rather than a traditional law enforcement intervention
- Appropriate engagement with persons with disabilities
- Collaborating with non-police university resources, including mental health practitioners
- Trauma-informed practices for police-citizen contacts, including contacts with youth and victims of sexual assault
- Understanding youth brain development, youth trauma and the impacts of police interactions with youth
- Alternatives to arrest, particularly for youth
- Free expression in university environments
- Clery Act and Title IX
Before being allowed to dispatch their public safety role on their own, we would require our officers to undergo supervised field training that includes an introduction to community leaders, particularly of underserved or traditionally marginalized communities in or near their service area. And we would ensure that training occurs regularly to reinforce important lessons and teach new ones. More details about our plans for training can be found in Appendix P1 of the Interim Study Report.
A university police department would not be part of the Baltimore Police Department. Rather, we would replace our current contingent of armed, off-duty BPD officers – approximately 25 per day over multiple shifts and across 3 campuses – with our own fully sworn university police officers.
If a university police department is established, Johns Hopkins would start small and recruit enough officers to reach a capacity of around 100 officers within the first five years. These officers would include supervisors, command staff, detectives, community relations officers and patrol officers.
Community input and feedback would be essential throughout both the legislative and police department development phases as well as on an ongoing basis once a department is established. The department would be held accountable through greater public and community oversight than any other Maryland law enforcement body: three layers of community oversight, including a police advisory and accountability board made up of multiple stakeholder groups, an administrative hearing board for police misconduct that includes the maximum number of civilian seats allowed by law and a civilian review board for ongoing oversight of complaints against university police.
More information about our commitments to accountability and transparency can be found here.
There are four major phases in the process for establishing a university police department. The first is to research the available options and develop, with extensive community input, a proposal for a police department. Next, legislators in the Maryland General Assembly must propose, consider and pass legislation authorizing the creation of a department and its requirements. Third, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) must be drafted and negotiated with the local police department, in this case the BPD, and finalized after a community input process. The fourth phase is to begin the process of recruiting, hiring and training university police officers and establishing key reporting and accountability mechanisms, such as the proposed Police Accountability Board.
The first phase was completed in the fall and the Interim Study Report was published and sent to legislators in December. We are now in phase two, which is a 90-day legislative process that began on January 9 and goes through April 8.
On February 5, 2019, SB 793 was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly; HB 1094 was introduced February 8, 2019. This legislation incorporates our 2019 proposal and would authorize Johns Hopkins to establish a small, community-oriented and research-backed university police department – one that is accountable to the public and subject to state and local government oversight. This legislation also includes a series of proposals to help address the root causes of crime through investments in community development, youth engagement and economic opportunity. We believe that this comprehensive approach to public safety will strengthen our communities while also upholding the highest standards of transparent, constitutional, equitable and community-based policing.
The bill text is available online at the Public Safety Initiatives website here along with additional resources and information. You can also access this legislation and check its status on the Maryland General Assembly’s website.
Throughout this legislative process, we will continue to provide updates to our community – neighborhoods, students, faculty and staff – through our website. Johns Hopkins’ proposed text for a bill authorizing Johns Hopkins University to establish a university police department is available for public review on our public safety initiatives website. If JHU offers amendments, that language will also be posted online. We have retained the feedback function on our website to ensure that members of the community continue to have a range of options to weigh in on the bill, ask questions and submit comments.
If the bill passes the Maryland General Assembly and is signed into law, Johns Hopkins University would begin a process of negotiating an MOU with the BPD that governs how the two departments would communicate and coordinate public safety responsibilities. Following this negotiation, the proposed MOU would be posted on a publicly available website and presented to community members during at least two public forums – one near the Homewood and Peabody campuses and the other near the East Baltimore Campus. Notice of public forums will be provided at least 10 days in advance.
The Baltimore City Council and the public would have 30 days to review the proposed MOU and submit written comments to the university. If a final MOU is agreed to by all parties, the university will publicly post a copy online.
Find more information on the timeline here.
The proposed Hopkins police department would include about 100 fully sworn officers, who would replace the current 25 shift-per-day contingent of armed, off-duty BPD officers we currently employ. Hopkins police officers would be trained and certified to carry firearms in the course of their duties, just like the other university police departments in Baltimore City. Apart from this small police department, the overwhelming majority of the Hopkins security organization (approximately 1,000 personnel) would remain unarmed.
Johns Hopkins takes the issue of firearms and other weapons on our university and medical campuses very seriously. Possession of a firearm is strictly prohibited on our university and medical premises – a policy that also extends to those who may have a government-issued permit or license to carry a firearm. The only exceptions permitted under this policy are for law enforcement officers and for those acting under the authority of the vice president for security.
A Johns Hopkins police department would not displace the broader role of the BPD. Rather, university-based police officers would complement the efforts of the BPD in and around our university and medical campuses in Baltimore – in line with the role played by other police departments that operate in the city and officers at peer institutions in their home cities.
Our collaboration with the BPD is a critical part of our security efforts. The mayor and police commissioner have a multi-year plan to change the trajectory of crime in Baltimore and have made it clear that they need major institutions in the city, like Johns Hopkins, to be a part of that effort, particularly because the BPD is operating in such a demanding environment.
We share a responsibility with elected officials, other city employers and institutions and the citizenry at large to tackle local crime and its root causes. A university-focused police unit serving the needs of our campuses and the surrounding communities would provide important support to the city’s crime-reduction strategies.
No. Johns Hopkins safety and security officers do not request information regarding citizenship or enforce federal immigration laws without a specific court order. We also do not provide information about the immigration status of members of our community unless required by specific court order. This long-standing policy would extend to any future university-based police officers.
We recommend that the university-based police department have primary jurisdiction on all of the buildings and grounds within boundaries established by the federal Clery Act, and would work with the City, through the MOU process, to have concurrent jurisdiction with BPD within a limited area beyond those boundaries. That limited area would include our current patrol zone and additional streets where warranted, based on community input and an assessment of our staffing capability. This is consistent with best practices at the urban university peers we surveyed, both in Baltimore and elsewhere. For example, the University of Baltimore Police Department has an MOU that gives it concurrent jurisdiction within a limited area in the Mid-town Belvedere and Mount Vernon neighborhoods adjacent to its campus.
Johns Hopkins currently invests significant resources in our security operations. Our total security costs have grown by nearly $20 million over the last five years. In FY19, Johns Hopkins expects to spend over $58 million in security costs in Baltimore City alone. Over the last two years, Johns Hopkins has also increased the number of full-time security staff from approximately 931 to over 1,100. We also currently rely regularly on surge staffing to meet our security needs, at significant additional expense owing to overtime pay and other factors.
Our intention would be to optimize these resources to cover the costs of establishing, training and operating a university-based police unit. We do not anticipate a tuition increase as a result of establishing a university police department.
In addition, we will continue to make substantial community investments in our home town and neighborhoods to tackle the root causes of violent crime. Our primary public safety strategy will be to invest in the community through dozens of programs and tens of millions of dollars in community investment. We will continue to look for non-security interventions that reduce violent crime, like the Roca program and the summer youth jobs program that research has linked to decreases in violence. No investments that Johns Hopkins makes in a university police department will come at the expense of our investments in these areas.
Establishing a university-based police unit would not change our student conduct policies or approach, and we would not criminalize minor infractions that can be and currently are addressed through other means. For example, the student amnesty provision, intended to encourage students to seek necessary medical attention or assistance for themselves or others in need, would remain in effect.
Our main priority is and always will be the safety and well-being of our campus communities and neighbors. Any future university police officers – like our current security personnel – would be trained and empowered to exercise good judgment, in accordance with our institution’s core values and with our priority of safety and well-being foremost in mind.
University police officers would be specially trained to work with individuals reporting sexual misconduct. Our processes are victim-sensitive, trauma-informed and fair. As with all serious crimes, if the victim were to choose to report a sexual assault for criminal investigation, the university police officers would be able to assist in the investigation instead of going directly to the Baltimore Police Department. The university police would also work closely with the JHU Office of Institutional Equity to ensure compliance with the JHU Sexual Misconduct Policy & Procedure.
Yes. Any police officers working at Johns Hopkins would be subject to all federal and state constitutional protections and limitations. This fact, confirmed by a Letter of Advice from the Office of the Maryland Attorney General, means individuals who come into contact with Johns Hopkins police officers would receive the same constitutional protections against deprivation of the rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution, including rights pertaining to search and seizure, arrest, Miranda and equal protection. Our clear goal and commitment would be to provide our police officers with outstanding training to prevent any encounter from resulting in a deprivation of rights. But if that were to happen, there would be recourse and accountability under the law and university policy.