John Hopkins University Set to Start Private Police Force Despite Campus Criticism

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Photo of a police car with the siren lights lit up.

John Hopkins University has selected Branville Bard Jr. to serve as the new vice president of public safety, the school announced this week. Bard, a former Massachusetts police commissioner, will be in charge of all the John Hopkins campuses, suggesting the school is moving toward starting its own police force.

In 2019, student protesters participated in a monthlong sit-in opposing a private police force, which led to multiple arrests. In response to the nationwide protest against the police murder of George Floyd, the university announced in June 2020 that it would suspend plans of a private armed force for at least two years, The Baltimore Sun reports.

Despite these criticisms and delays, Bard’s appointment signals the university system is continuing with its plans to develop a private police force.

“We hold the safety and well-being of all those who work, learn, or receive care at Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine as our utmost priority, and we also believe fundamentally in the need for all members of our communities to have trust and confidence in the leadership of our public safety operations,” Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels, Health System President Kevin Sowers, and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine Paul Rothman said in a joint statement.

INSIGHT recently reported on the current campus police reforms across the country and found that the most innovative departments collaborate with diversity offices to create a safe and welcoming environment for the campus community.

“To improve public safety, we need to build trust between communities and law enforcement. That process requires deep listening, honest conversation, and recognition of intergenerational trauma,” Bard said in a statement.