As Johns Hopkins University moves into the development of policies and procedures for the Johns Hopkins Police Department, Thursday marks another opportunity for community feedback.
Vice President for Public Safety and Chief of the JHPD Branville Bard Jr. will host a virtual public forum at noon on Thursday, April 27, to explain the policymaking process and invite input from Johns Hopkins students, faculty, staff, and neighbors.
Beginning in late June, Johns Hopkins Public Safety will publicly release draft versions of policies and procedures that align with the Community Safety and Strengthening Act (the JHPD's enacting legislation) and incorporate best practices identified in the American Civil Liberties Union's "Racially Just Policing: Model Policies for Colleges and Universities," recommendations from 21st Century Policing Solutions, and feedback from community members at previous public forums.
"We are excited to begin undertaking an extensive community-oriented feedback process for developing progressive policing policies that put the needs of the public first," said Bard, who was recently named the JHPD's inaugural police chief. "From policies and procedures to hiring and training, I am determined to make sure that the details of implementation are grounded in building community trust and informed by ongoing opportunities for input."
Starting in June, draft policies will be shared with the Johns Hopkins University Police Accountability Board, a state-mandated oversight panel of volunteers made up of five community members as well as 10 Johns Hopkins students, faculty, and staff members.
The draft policies will also be posted on the Department of Public Safety website for a 60-day public comment period. Once posted, the public will be able to provide comments, feedback, and suggested edits.
In addition to receiving feedback from the JH Accountability Board and community members during the public comment period, the university will host two virtual "Ask the Expert" sessions with experts who will discuss police reform in the U.S. and advise on best practices regarding topics addressed in draft JHPD policies.
Public safety consultants at 21st Century Policing Solutions have provided four questions for the public and JH Accountability Board members to consider when reviewing draft policies and procedures. Those are:
- Is this policy consistent with the values and needs of the community?
- Does this policy help JHPD safely carry out its stated mission?
- Is this policy understandable? Are there any points that need clarification?
- Is there anything that needs to be addressed in this policy that isn't currently reflected in the draft?
All feedback collected throughout the process will be included in a report that will be published online and freely available to the public. The report will highlight changes made to JHPD policies and procedures based on feedback.
Draft policies will be finalized by Oct. 1.
JHPD policies will be informed by the Community Safety and Strengthening Act, Maryland police reform legislation, and the memorandum of understanding signed between the Baltimore Police Department and the JHPD. Based on a 50-state analysis by leading law firm Venable, the legislative framework for the JHPD established by the Maryland legislature stands among the most progressive law enforcement statutes in the nation and as a national model for accountability and transparency. This statute reflects numerous reforms that advocates have sought for years—nationwide and here in Baltimore.
Bard said he sees the policy development process as an extension of this work and an opportunity to realize the university's ambitious commitments. "By starting our extensive and consultative community-based policy development process now, we believe in October, we will have the details in place for the most progressive police agency in Maryland and one of the most modern in the nation," Bard said. "The community is a vital partner in helping to move public safety out of the past paradigms of policing and into a 21st century holistic framework."
The JHPD and the JH Accountability Board were authorized in 2019 when the Maryland General Assembly passed the Community Safety and Strengthening Act. In December 2022, after two months of public feedback, John Hopkins University finalized a memorandum of understanding with the Baltimore Police Department that details jurisdictional boundaries, the use of body worn cameras, arrest powers, investigations, hiring, and other policies.
In keeping with the JHPD's commitment to transparency and desire for community partnership, the virtual forum this Thursday will be open to the public and available via livestream at this link: https://publicsafety.jhu.edu/updates-and-events/virtual-events/. For those who are unable to attend, a recording of the forum will be posted online along with materials from the meeting.