Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 1, 2022

Vice President of Public Safety addresses concerns about the JHPD with SGA

By HELEN LACEY | November 3, 2022

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Bard fielded questions about the JHPD’s implementation at SGA meeting.

The Student Government Association (SGA) held its weekly general body meeting on Nov. 1. Vice President of Public Safety Branville Bard Jr., Senior Director of Public Safety Jarron Jackson and Executive Director of Public Safety Walter Simmons discussed public safety and the Johns Hopkins Police Department (JHPD) with SGA members. The results of the SGA Public Safety Survey were also presented, and SGA passed its Sweater Giveaway Funding Bill.

Public safety presentation

Senior Class President JiWon Woo presented the results of the public safety survey that SGA recently emailed to the student body.

  • The survey asked four opinion-based questions: if students feel informed about the JHPD, if students support the JHPD, if they feel safe on campus and if they feel safe on nearby off-campus locations.
  • The survey received a total of 823 responses. The majority of students reported that they feel informed about the JHPD, they completely do not support the JHPD and they feel safe on campus and at nearby off-campus  locations. 
  • 48% of respondents were against the JHPD, 39% of respondents were pro-JHPD and 13% were neutral.
  • Woo compared the results to the 2018 referendum, which received 2070 responses. He noted that the results were substantially different, with 74.4% of the student body expressing anti-JHPD views in 2018 and only 48% expressing anti-JHPD views in 2022. The 2018 referendum did not include an option for a neutral position, but the 2022 survey did.
  • Woo highlighted that anti-JHPD students reported feeling safer on and off-campus than pro-JHPD students. The survey found that the majority of people who indicated that they were neutral about the issue felt uninformed about the JHPD.
  • The survey also asked a short answer question about how public safety can be improved. Popular responses included improving transportation systems and lighting, increasing the presence and training of Hopkins security, investing in the community and expanding Blue Light and safety education. 
  • Woo described specific student concerns, stating “We received a couple complaints that safety personnel were catcalling students... which is pretty disturbing.”

Question and answer session with Bard, Jackson and Simmons

Bard, Jackson and Simmons answered questions about improvements to public safety measures and the implementation of the JHPD. 

  • Junior Class Senator Shalala Leny inquired about the expectations of current Hopkins security officers. Bard clarified that their function is to observe and report, and their responsibilities do not include intervening. “The addition of the JHPD... [would] provide us with the appropriate resources for when violence and serious issues impact us,” he said. He added that it would not replace any current security measures.
  • Junior Class Senator Davide Donald questioned what purpose the JHPD would serve that is not covered by the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD). Bard emphasized that the JHPD will provide increased response time, engagement and accountability. “When you look at it from the standpoint that policing is always going to be a necessary part of public safety, then it just makes sense,” he said.
  • Sophomore Class Senator Dalhart Dobbs asked how Bard plans to respond to the large opposition to the JHPD expressed by community members. Bard responded that support for the JHPD may be underestimated because supporters fear backlash. He also questioned the validity of anti-JHPD arguments. “I’ve heard some great arguments against improper behavior in policing, but I haven’t heard one good sound argument about not having police because most of the time those are based on emotion and not practical considerations,” he said.
  • Senior Class Senator Sophie Liu expressed concerns about the JHPD being armed. “A large percentage of us really don’t feel comfortable with JHPD with any sort of armed [weapon],” she said. Bard countered this point by bringing up the BPD. “You already have firearms on campus 24 hours a day with [BPD] officers,” he said.
  • Woo noted that the majority of crimes around campus occur outside of the JHPD’s narrowly defined jurisdiction. In response, Bard commented that “It’s not ideal, but the legislature sought to be protective and provide those boundaries.” He added that the legislature also left room for the JHPD to expand into surrounding communities with majority community approval.
  • Woo also asked where students can submit complaints about public safety, such as the behavior of security officers. According to Jackson, students should submit complaints as soon as possible via the LiveSafe app.
  • Leny questioned how the JHPD will be expected to respond to violent situations. “Each individual incident will require a different response from the officer, but the officer level set will be to only use force if and when it’s necessary,” Bard said.
  • Junior Class President Harvey McGuinness asked what the timeline will look like. Bard stated that students can expect to see JHPD officers patrolling from June to August of next year at the earliest.
  • Freshman Class Senator Alisa Fedotova wondered how JHPD officers would be trained to handle sexual assault. Bard highlighted that they will undergo extensive victim-centered and trauma-informed training.

SGA Sweater Giveaway Funding Bill

Secretary Elaina Regier presented the SGA Winter Sweater Funding Bill. The bill proposes that SGA purchase custom fall-themed SGA sweaters to give away during November and December and custom winter-themed SGA sweaters to give away from December to February

  • Woo proposed an amendment to not purchase the fall-themed sweaters because they will not be delivered until the end of fall. The amendment passed unanimously.
  • The bill passed unanimously.
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