Accountability Board Q&A

While the temporary halt in the JHPD remains in place, the new president for public safety, Dr. Branville Bard, recently announced plans to reconvene the Johns Hopkins University Police Accountability Board as part of his effort to listen and learn from members of the community – on and off campus – to seek their feedback and guidance on public safety issues and initiatives, including a range of non-policing initiatives. In a letter to the board, Bard called its creation “a milestone legislative achievement and a bellwether in modeling change in the culture of law enforcement,” and envisions the Board as playing a critical advisory role going forward.

In addition to re-starting the accountability board, additional members are needed due to current and anticipated vacancies.  Applications are now being accepted for one Hopkins faculty member, two Hopkins staff members, and four Hopkins students. A community member will also be appointed by the City Council President to complete the board.

What is the Johns Hopkins University Police Accountability Board? 

The Johns Hopkins University Police Accountability Board, unique both in Maryland and throughout the country, empowers community members from JHU and the surrounding neighborhoods to help directly shape the development and operation of the future Johns Hopkins Police Department (JHPD). 

The Accountability Board originated as one of several University recommendations in the Interim Study on Approaches to Improving Public Safety on and around Johns Hopkins University Campuses and reflects both community input and research into best practices among police departments nationally. 

The Community Safety and Strengthening Act, which passed the Maryland General Assembly during the 2019 legislative session, positions the Accountability Board as a crucial element in ensuring the success, transparency, and accountability of the JHPD.  Under the law, Accountability Board members are responsible for sharing community concerns directly with department leadership, reviewing police department metrics, and assessing current and prospective department policies, procedures and training in order to provide recommendations for improvement. 

What will be the composition of the Accountability Board? 

The Accountability Board will reflect the University‘s community of diverse people, ideas, and experiences.  This includes diversity not only in affiliation with the University’s schools, campuses, and communities, but also in areas such as race, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, age, and ability. 

The Accountability Board will be composed of: 

  • 5 community members unaffiliated with the University, including at least 1 community representative from each of the three areas in Baltimore where the JHPD may patrol; [I] 
  • 10 Johns Hopkins University students, faculty, and staff, including at least one member of the JHU Black Faculty and Staff Association. 

All members of the Accountability Board will be Baltimore City residents.  Student members must be enrolled in a JHU school at one of the University’s relevant Baltimore campus areas for the duration of their Board term. 

How will Accountability Board members be appointed? 

The state law authorizing the JHPD specifies that Baltimore City‘s mayor and City Council president each appoint one community member to the Accountability Board; JHU leadership nominates the remaining 13 members, including three community members in consultation with the Baltimore City Council. All JHU nominees are subject to confirmation by the Maryland State Senate.[ii] 

For its appointments, JHU has established an application process and a nominating committee composed of students, faculty, staff, and Baltimore City community members.  To be considered for the 13 JHU-appointed Accountability Board seats, individuals may submit applications online or by mailing completed applications to: 

Attn: JHU Police Accountability Board 
Office of the Provost 
265 Garland Hall 
3400 North Charles Street 
Baltimore, Maryland 21218 

We also welcome nominations of others and will reach out to those nominated to provide application materials. 

To be eligible to serve on the Accountability Board, applicants must demonstrate: 

  • Baltimore City residency; 
  • For non-student members, a willingness to serve for two years, and for student members, a willingness to serve for one year; and 
  • Respect for diversity and a commitment to working across differences to ensure the ultimate success and effectiveness of the JHPD. 
  • Additional information about the Accountability Board and application instructions is available online.  The deadline to apply is November 14, 2021. 

What is the review and selection process for Accountability Board applicants? 

Once the application process closes on November 14, 2021, a nominating committee of eight Baltimore City community members, students, faculty, and staff (two each) will review applications and develop a list of recommended nominees.  That list will be delivered to University leadership, who will submit final recommendations to the Maryland State Senate for confirmation during the 2020 legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly.  Applicants will be notified of their selection status prior to the 2020 legislative session, which begins on January 12, 2022. 

Names of the nominating committee members and more information about the Accountability Board can be found on the Public Safety Initiatives website, along with a comment box to send your ideas and feedback. 

How were nominating committee members selected? 

Because the Accountability Board will contain students, faculty, staff, and Baltimore City community members, the University established a nominating committee that has two representatives from each constituency.  The two student members serve on the Student Advisory Committee for Security, and the faculty, staff and community members have all been active and engaged around issues of public safety. All have demonstrated their commitment to working with the University to improve the neighborhoods where they live and work around our Baltimore campuses and are well-respected advocates and leaders in their communities. 

Names of the nominating committee members and more information about the Accountability Board can be found on the Public Safety Initiatives website, along with a comment box to send your ideas and feedback. 

Why is University leadership making the Accountability Board appointments? 

The Community Safety and Strengthening Act places responsibility for these appointments on JHU, subject to confirmation by the Maryland State Senate.  We have taken an additional step of convening a separate nominating committee composed of students, faculty, staff, and community members to review applications and select the pool of individuals from which University leadership will make its appointment recommendations. 

What is the status of the effort to establish a university-based police department at Johns Hopkins? 

In June of 2020, Johns Hopkins announced the decision to put on hold the establishment of the JHPD for at least two years to allow us to come together as a community during this time of reimagining public safety. We indicated we would not take any further steps toward its establishment during that time period.  That was a decision that we didn’t – and still don’t – take lightly, but it was a necessary step, particularly as our community grappled with the grotesque murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.    

In the interim, we have benefitted from the ongoing conversations in our city and in Annapolis about what is possible for our city and country in rethinking the appropriate boundaries and responsibilities of policing, and we have drawn on the energies, expertise, and efforts of our community in advancing the agenda for consequential and enduring reform. Many of our faculty are participating in those efforts.  We are also working — with a sense of shared purpose and commitment, with our neighbors, and across our university community— to explore more deeply and continue to invest in alternative approaches to preventing or interrupting criminal violence so that we reduce to the greatest extent possible our reliance on sworn policing. 

Updates about this work will continue to be shared with our community and posted on this website. 

Why is Johns Hopkins reconvening the Accountability Board during the JHPD two-year pause?  

Johns Hopkins remains deeply committed to honoring the pause of the JHPD for two years. The decision to reconvene the Accountability Board stems directly from the new vice president for public safety’s desire to listen and learn from a wide variety of community stakeholders – on and off campus – to seek their feedback and guidance on public safety issues and initiatives, including a range of non-policing initiatives. Vice President of Public Safety Branville Bard has chosen to include the accountability board among the groups he will meet with during the next few months. Dr. Bard says he will look to the accountability board as a pathbreaking vehicle for those with different perspectives to advise him on the institution’s vision for public safety — even as Hopkins respects the two-year pause in the development of the JHPD. 

Why was the Accountability Board included in the legislation establishing the Johns Hopkins Police Department? 

To confront the challenges of violent crime on and around Johns Hopkins’ Baltimore campuses, in 2018 Johns Hopkins led a deeply collaborative community engagement and academic study process, which included over 125 stakeholder meetings with neighbors, community members, elected officials, students, faculty, and staff; extensive research on national best practices in public safety and 21st-century policing; and consultations with nationally recognized experts on public safety, root causes of crime, and violence reduction.  A series of recommendations emerged from those months of careful study and discussion around both best practices for university policing and the importance of incorporating strategies to address root causes of crime into our broader public safety efforts.  Johns Hopkins then submitted to the legislature and posted publicly the Interim Study on Approaches to Improving Public Safety on and around Johns Hopkins University Campuses,[iii]  which details those recommendations. 

The establishment of the Accountability Board was one of several recommendations embedded in the Interim Study, and the University was pleased that the General Assembly incorporated it in the law authorizing the creation of the JHPD.  This positions the Accountability Board as a crucial element in ensuring the success, transparency, and accountability of the JHPD.  While some other universities have police advisory boards, they do not typically include community members in the selection process nor do they have as much community representation as the Accountability Board.  Moreover, no other comparable university board submits its slate of recommended members to the state legislature for confirmation. 

How can neighbors, community groups and other stakeholders engage with the Accountability Board? 

The University Police Accountability Board is a public channel for JHPD community accountability and transparency.  It is designed to ensure that community voices and perspectives inform the development and operation of the JHPD from its inception, including through: 

  • Community, student, faculty, and staff representation on the Accountability Board, which will meet at least quarterly to review JHPD metrics around crime and assess – and provide recommendations to University leadership around – current and prospective department policies, procedures, and training. 
  • Public posting of all Accountability Board meeting minutes online for public review and comment. 
  • Annual public meetings to obtain stakeholder feedback. 

[i] Md. Code Ann., Education § 24-1205(c)(2).

[ii] Md. Code Ann., Education § 24-1205(c)(3)-(4).

[iii] Available at: https://publicsafety.jhu.edu/assets/uploads/sites/9/2020/05/Interim-study-report-FINAL.pdf.