Frequently Asked Questions

Last update: Thursday, April 18

What is the current status of the JHPD effort?

Given the need for us to come together as a community in the enterprise of reimagining public safety, we have decided to pause for at least the next two years the implementation of the JHPD. Importantly, the Johns Hopkins Police Department (JHPD) does not yet exist. The only step taken to date has been to stand up the Johns Hopkins University Police Accountability Board, which is charged with helping us embody our commitments to public accountability and best practices for equitable, safe, and just university policing. It is composed of neighbors, faculty, staff, and students with diverse views on this issue. The Accountability Board had its first meeting in early June. We plan to spend the next two years exploring more deeply, or perhaps developing ourselves, alternative approaches to preventing or interrupting criminal violence so that we reduce to the greatest extent possible our reliance on sworn policing, and we hope the Accountability Board can add its perspective to that effort.

Why is Johns Hopkins establishing a university police department?

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 can contribute meaningfully to public safety in Baltimore and 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, will be empowered to address violent crime, including active shooters, and will close an unnecessary gap in our current security operation.

Is there research that supports the decision to establish a university police department?

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.

How can neighbors, community groups and other stakeholders have input in this process now that the bill has passed?

After the Governor signs the bill into law, it will go into effect on July 1, and we will move into a multiyear period of implementation. Our work in 2019 will include the start of discussions with the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) around the drafting of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) and initial engagement with the community regarding the MOU and recommendations for the first Johns Hopkins Police Accountability Board. We also will begin to seek input regarding how best to collaborate with our neighbors to identify areas near our campuses where future JHPD patrols could be welcome and effective, and we will develop plans for the phased recruiting and training of new officers in accordance with the exacting standards set by the legislation.

The MOU will be posted publicly online 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 by both email and mail to university affiliates and community associations at least 10 days in advance.

The Baltimore City Council and the public will 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.

We also will have ongoing opportunities for community engagement, oversight, and input once the JHPD is operational. These will include:

  • Community, student, faculty, and staff representation on the Accountability Board, which will meet regularly to review JHPD metrics around crime and assess – and provide recommendations to University leadership around – current and prospective department policies, procedures, and training. Meeting minutes will be posted prominently online for public review.
  • Civilian representation on the internal administrative hearing board that reviews officer misconduct appeals.
  • Public posting of JHPD policies, annual reports, and a wide range of data, such as: complaints, workforce, arrests, traffic stops, and officer-involved incidents.
  • Public oversight of JHPD through the Baltimore Civilian Review Board.
How will you ensure the accountability and transparency of a Johns Hopkins police unit within the community?

We are dedicated to creating a police department that is public-facing, public-serving and publicly accountable. The legislation requires Johns Hopkins to build community accountability and oversight within the police department in a number of ways:

First, we will establish a Police Accountability Board, which will include representation from community residents living in the areas around the university’s affected campuses, as well as students, faculty and staff. The Board will 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.

The Police Accountability Board will 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. The meeting minutes of the Board will be posted prominently on the public website and the University must acknowledge and respond to any recommendations from the Board within 120 days. Five seats on the 15-member Board will be set aside for community members from the neighborhoods around Johns Hopkins’ campuses, including one member appointed by the Mayor and another appointed by the City Council president. One seat will be reserved for a member of Johns Hopkins’ Black Faculty and Staff Association. The law requires Senate confirmation of all JHPD Accountability Board members, except for the two members appointed by the Mayor and City Council President.

Second, we will establish a complaint process that allows any person, including members of the police department and the public, to file complaints against university police officers and ensures timely investigation of all complaints regarding the JHPD and its employees.  Annually, the JHPD will provide a description of the complaint process and a summary of complaint data – including the number, type, and disposition of all complaints – to the Mayor of Baltimore City, the Baltimore City Council, the Maryland General Assembly, and the Johns Hopkins University Police Accountability Board.  These reports will also be made publicly available and posted on the Department’s website.

Third, we will include civilians in any state-mandated administrative hearing board that is convened to review a finding of police misconduct. 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. Maryland law requires such a hearing board to contain at least three members (a majority) who are police officers. In addition, we will 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 civilian university affiliate. The Johns Hopkins Police Department will become only the second police department in Maryland to allow civilians to sit as voting members on the hearing boards.

Fourth, we will 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.

Finally, the JHPD will be subject to the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) for law enforcement records and will be required to comply with all state reporting requirements. Officers also will be required to use body-worn cameras. And after 10 years the legislation requires an independent review and evaluation of the department following which the General Assembly must act to extend or reauthorize the JHPD.

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.

How will you prevent the racial profiling that other university police have been criticized for and how would you address any officer misconduct?

The central test of a community-oriented, harm-reducing public safety operation is how its officers treat those they encounter. Officers in a Johns Hopkins police department will be expected to act professionally, respectfully, and with restraint. Johns Hopkins will require training in preventing racial profiling, appropriate searches, 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 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, 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. In addition, the Act requires that JHPD officers use body-worn cameras to promote officer accountability and transparency.

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 will 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. In addition, the Act requires that the JHPD is subject to the Maryland Public Information Act for law enforcement records and specifies that JHPD officers are not subject to state immunity protections or entitled to state benefits.

Additional detail on best practices can be found in Appendix P5 of the Interim Study Report and in summary form here.

Will a university police department be trained in how to handle incidents involving sexual assault?

Yes. The ability to design a university police department from the ground up to address the issues confronting a university community is 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 will 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 will be able to assist in an investigation as an alternative to going directly to the BPD. The university police will also work closely with the JHU Office of Institutional Equity to ensure compliance with the JHU Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedure.

What will a university-based police department look like? Will it be part of the Baltimore Police Department?

The Johns Hopkins university police department will not be part of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), but will operate under a Memorandum of Understanding with BPD and continue to work closely with BPD officers.

Johns Hopkins will start small and recruit enough officers to reach a capacity of no more than 100 employees. These employees will include supervisors, command staff, detectives, community relations officers and patrol officers and, by law, within five years 25% of these employees must be Baltimore residents.  At full capacity, we anticipate that 10 – 12 JHPD officers will be on duty across our three Baltimore campuses, effectively replacing our current contingent of armed, off-duty BPD officers with our own fully sworn university police officers.

Community input and feedback will be essential throughout the development of the JHPD and on an ongoing basis once the department is established. The department will be subject to 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 submission to Baltimore City’s Civilian Review Board for ongoing oversight of complaints against university police.

More information about our commitments to accountability and transparency can be found here.

Will JHPD officers be armed?

JHPD officers will be trained and certified to carry firearms in the course of their duties, just like the other university police departments in Baltimore City.  Once fully established, the JHPD will comprise a maximum of 100 employees, replacing the current contingent of off-duty BPD officers we currently employ, and will be prohibited from purchasing military-grade equipment. Apart from this small police department, the overwhelming majority of the Hopkins security organization (approximately 1,000 personnel) will 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.

How will the university police department work with the Baltimore Police Department?

JHPD will operate under a Memorandum of Understanding with BPD and will continue to rely on and work closely with BPD as a critical part of our security efforts.

 

A Johns Hopkins police department will complement the efforts of the BPD in and around our university and medical campuses in Baltimore – in line with the partnership that currently exists between BPD and other university police departments that operate in the city.

Consistent with all public universities in Baltimore City and across Maryland, BPD will retain primary responsibility for investigations and arrests related to more serious Part I offenses specified under the Uniform Crime Reporting Program except theft, burglary and motor vehicle taking. The BPD will also maintain evidence collected from crime scenes at the Evidence Control Unit of BPD and impound any stolen vehicles.

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 will provide important support to the city’s crime-reduction strategies.

Will university police officers ask people on or around Johns Hopkins campuses about their immigration status or conduct immigration enforcement actions?

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 will extend to any university-based police officers.

What are the patrol boundaries for the new police department?

The JHPD will have primary law enforcement responsibility for its campus area, defined as property that is:

  1. Owned, leased, operated by or under the control of the University;
  2. Located within specific boundaries (listed in the law) on the Homewood, East Baltimore and Peabody campuses; and
  3. Used for educational or institutional purposes.

The JHPD also will be permitted to share law enforcement responsibility with the BPD in certain areas adjacent to its campus areas, subject to community agreement, authorization from the BPD, and approval from the City Council. The Baltimore City Council must pass a resolution confirming that Johns Hopkins sought community input and received agreement from a majority of community members before the JHPD operates in an area adjacent to campus. Absent community support, the JHPD will not be permitted to patrol an off-campus neighborhood.

Maps of JHPD’s primary patrol areas on each of our three campuses can be found here.  Maps of concurrent or shared patrol areas will be posted when determined in the future.

What will it cost to create a new university police department? Will tuition go up as a result?

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 is 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.

Will a university-focused police unit change how Johns Hopkins handles student conduct and discipline?

Establishing a university-based police unit will not change our student conduct policies or approach, and we will 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, will 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 – will 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 will 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 will be able to assist in the investigation instead of going directly to the Baltimore Police Department. The university police will also work closely with the JHU Office of Institutional Equity to ensure compliance with the JHU Sexual Misconduct Policy & Procedure.

Will persons interacting with a university-based police unit be given the same constitutional protections as those interacting with the BPD?

Yes. Any police officer working at Johns Hopkins will 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 will 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 is 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.