Johns Hopkins University will host the first of three town hall discussions about its public safety plans Thursday evening, an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, neighbors, and the general public to hear directly from Branville Bard, vice president for public safety for Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, and to share feedback on the recently published draft memorandum of understanding between Johns Hopkins and the Baltimore Police Department.
Bard encouraged members of the Johns Hopkins University and Medicine communities to review the proposed memorandum of understanding, or MOU, and to share input via an online feedback form and/or at one of three upcoming town hall conversations:
- Thursday, Sept. 22, 6-8 p.m.: Homewood campus, Shriver Hall (in person and livestream)
- Thursday, Sept. 29, 7-9 p.m.: East Baltimore campus, Turner Auditorium (in person and livestream)
- Friday, Sept. 30, 1-3 p.m.: Livestream only
All three conversations will be livestreamed on the Johns Hopkins Public Safety website, and recordings of the events will be published afterwards. Individuals who plan to attend in person are asked to register in advance.
"Your input and participation is a welcome and important part of the MOU process," Bard wrote in a message to the Hopkins community this week. "The JHPD presents us with the opportunity and the obligation to build a small, model police department, as one part of JHU's holistic approach to public and community safety, which will continue to include a significant non-police public safety team, behavioral and mental health crisis counselors, and investments in community-driven programs for preventing violence and addressing the root causes of crime.
"I hope you can attend one of the upcoming town halls, and I look forward to hearing from you."
The MOU, like that of other university police departments across the country, establishes key operational details of the JHPD, including police jurisdiction, arrests, warrants, investigations, hiring, and compensation for costs. It is an important step in the process of establishing a new university police department at Johns Hopkins.
But this particular document is unique, Bard wrote, in that it "includes a number of the guardrails and mechanisms of our underlying statute, which ensure that the JHPD lives up to our commitment for building a model of progressive, constitutional, community-oriented, and community-accountable policing."
Among other details, the 21-page MOU emphasizes key accountability mechanisms for a future Johns Hopkins Police Department: State-mandated public reporting, training, policy development, and third-party accreditation requirements; exemptions from state immunity protections; local hiring and recruitment targets; and multiple layers of public accountability and oversight, including, among others, the Johns Hopkins University Police Accountability Board.
During each of the town halls, there will be a presentation on the initial draft of the proposed MOU. Then Erricka Bridgeford, executive director of Baltimore Community Mediation, and her team of highly trained volunteer mediators will facilitate breakout discussions about the MOU. The small groups will discuss six open-ended questions and then share their feedback when the full group reconvenes.
"I am pleased that Hopkins invited Baltimore Community Mediation to help facilitate these town hall discussions," Bridgeford said. "Our mission, as an organization, is to provide non-judgmental processes for individuals and groups to be heard and to listen, make decisions, and peacefully change their lives, families, and communities. And our aim is to do that here—to create the space for the community to share their views and to be heard."
Community feedback on the MOU will be compiled in a report and posted on the public safety website. Following a 30-day review period and a subsequent period for review by the Baltimore City Council, the draft MOU will be modified based on input from the community. A finalized MOU will be published online later this year, along with a report summarizing feedback received.