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Local News
Wrap-up of news stories taken from the day's local headlines.

Johns Hopkins hires Massachusetts police commissioner to lead private police force efforts

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Branville Bard Jr.

 
BALTIMORE, MD (WEAA) — Johns Hopkins University is moving forward with the creation of its own private police force. 

 

The university announced it has picked Massachusetts police commissioner Branville Bard Jr. to serve as a public safety vice president. 

 

Bard, who gained a reputation as a vocal advocate for social justice, racial equity, and police reform, will oversee security for the university, its medicine campuses and facilities worldwide starting Aug. 30. 

 

He will also “play a leading role in the development and implementation" of the force.

 

“Dr. Bard has a stellar, decades-long track record as an effective, community-oriented law enforcement professional and as an outspoken and passionate advocate for social justice, racial equity, and police reform,” University President Ron Daniels, Johns Hopkins Health System President Kevin Sowers and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine Paul Rothman said in a statement. “His commitment to developing progressive approaches to public safety made him a clear choice.”

 

 

 Last year, the university announced that it was pausing plans for a private police force amid nationwide protests against police brutality toward African Americans. 

 

“Throughout my career I have held to a simple but powerful belief that the most important responsibilities of police are to protect the public and to defend the individual constitutional rights of the citizenry they are sworn to serve,” Bard said. “We do not have to choose between being safer and sacrificing civil liberties. With a public safety system centered on procedural and social justice, and grounded in listening to the community’s needs, we can do both.”

 

During his tenure as police commissioner of Cambridge, Mass, Bard established the department’s family and social justice section to address the needs of vulnerable members of the community who are better served through a social justice approach, including juveniles, homeless individuals, the elderly, and those experiencing mental health and substance use disorders. 

 

He also launched a department-wide effort to monitor data on police-citizen interactions for indications of possible racial profiling or biased policing, and to make that information available through near real-time updates to a public dashboard.

 

“During the next several months, Dr. Bard will begin building the relationships within the Johns Hopkins community and with our neighbors in Baltimore necessary to ensure that our public safety operation and the future JHPD live up to our commitments and values as an institution,” Daniels, Sowers and Rothman said in the community message.