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Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920


Letter from President William R. Brody Concerning the
University's Security Action Plan

January 31, 2005

Dear Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff:

Let me start with the bottom line: Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our students. Nothing.

The deaths of Christopher Elser and, now, of Linda Trinh have focused the attention of everyone in the Homewood campus community as never before on issues of security. The university has been working for months — in fact, from even before Chris' death last April — to address security concerns head-on.

In a message last week to parents, available online at www.jhu.edu/news/home05/jan05/trinh3.html. I outlined much of what has been accomplished so far.

I write now to announce a series of new initiatives we are taking to enhance the safety and security of students on the Homewood campus and in the neighborhood nearby. Some of these steps will go into effect in the short term, either immediately or within the next 30 days. Some will take a little longer to implement, from 30 to 90 days. Others are long-term initiatives, but ones that we intend to pursue as vigorously and as quickly as possible.

To underscore that, I am announcing today that the deans of the Krieger School and the Whiting School and I have committed an initial $2 million in new funding to finance the improvements I will outline in this action plan.

We know that is just the beginning. Our eventual investment will be much more than that. But I pledge to you that we will spend whatever it takes to secure this community.

On some points of the action plan, we can give you relatively full information now. On other points, some details remain to be worked out and will be announced later.

I. Immediate action:

1. We will hire off-duty Baltimore City police officers to patrol in Charles Village at night and overnight. These officers will be in their police uniforms and will be armed. They will patrol in university vehicles and, at times, on foot. These patrols will begin as soon as we can engage the officers.

2. We will contract for additional foot-patrol guards from Broadway Services Inc. Silver Star Security. At least at first, we will assign officers on the night and overnight shifts to be a visible security presence along the Charles Street corridor from Wolman and McCoy halls and the Eisenhower Library south to Homewood Apartments. That deployment will be adjusted with experience and with input from students. [BSI provides the bulk of the guard force at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Johns Hopkins Bayview and Mount Washington campuses.]

3. As of Feb. 7, we will replace the current guard service that staffs the security desk at Homewood Apartments with BSI guards.

4. We will station a BSI guard at the Bradford Apartments to check IDs and obtain positive identification of all guests and visitors. [We will be vigilant to ensure BSI provides personnel for all of these assignments who are well-trained and who meet our high expectations for performance.]

5. We have accelerated the additional evaluation necessary to begin implementing a system of video surveillance cameras, to be monitored on a 24/7 basis from a state-of-the-art Security Department communications and monitoring. We expect to be able to finalize our plan by Feb. 28. Phased implementation of a multi-faceted plan will follow expeditiously.

6. As I outlined last week, we have for months aggressively pursued city, electric utility and university improvements in street lighting in Charles Village. Since then, we have compiled a list of 22 specific recommendations for additional improvements in lighting in the community. We will implement those recommendations as they apply to university buildings and immediately begin working with owners of private property to encourage and assist them to install the necessary lights.

7. Hardware that will improve the reliability of our on- and off-campus network of blue light emergency telephones has been ordered and will be installed within four weeks.

8. We will urgently address the concerns about shuttle service cited at our recent meetings with students and work with students to identify the most effective approach.

9. As I announced last week, we are adding parent and student representatives to our Committee on Campus Safety and Security. We will convene the first of frequent, regular meetings of the expanded committee very shortly. The committee, under the chairmanship of Dr. James McGill, senior vice president for finance and administration, will monitor our progress in implementing this action plan and recommend additional steps.

10. I will appoint a group of outside experts to conduct a review of campus security, and to recommend improvements. This group will report directly to me. This measure will reinforce our ongoing consultation with peer universities to ensure that we are following best safety and security practices.

II: Thirty- to ninety-day action:

11. We will tighten resident and guest check-in procedures at Wolman and McCoy halls. Specifically, we will reconfigure the lobby areas so that anyone entering the building, including guests, must pass through turnstiles and identify themselves to a security officer. There will be no "tailgating." That is, no one, including residents and other students, will be able to enter the building with or on the heels of someone else without presenting proper identification. The renovations necessary to implement the new system should be complete within about 45 days.

12. On the campus side of Charles Street, we will impose similar resident and guest check-in procedures at the Alumni Memorials Residences, where, since fall, additional guards have been stationed. Given the physical configuration of these buildings — which each have multiple entrances — we will have to construct gates across and guard stations at the courtyards of both AMR I and AMR II. Residents of those buildings, and of buildings A and B, will be required to pass through those gates. They and their visitors and guests will be required to provide positive identification. There will be no tailgating. We are engaging architects immediately to draw up plans and expect to start construction before the end of the semester.

13. We will devise and implement a new system to provide students with reliable information about the security systems and practices of off-campus apartment buildings. And we will work actively to encourage landlords of those buildings to improve security.

III. Longer-term action:

14. We are committed to meeting the need of our students for more university-owned housing, sufficient housing so that any undergraduate student who desires to live in a university building can do so. Most of you know that we broke ground this fall on the Charles Commons, which will house more than 600 students when it opens in the fall of 2006. I also have directed that we speed up the planning process for additional university housing, including an expanded freshman quadrangle on the campus side of Charles Street.

15. We must and will continue to work in collaboration with our neighbors and with the city of Baltimore on a variety of fronts. Our goal must be to protect the stability and enhance the livability of the nearby neighborhoods where so many of our students — and our faculty and staff — reside.

This action plan will evolve and grow as we pursue it and as we receive more recommendations from our outside experts, our standing committee and from you, the students, parents, faculty and staff on whose behalf we are undertaking all these efforts. In that regard, I want to announce the availability of a new venue for communicating with the university and among yourselves. A new message forum is online now at remembering.jhu.edu.

The forum is divided into two parts. One provides you with the opportunity to record your remembrances of or thoughts about Linda Trinh. Her family will be most appreciative of the comments you post there.

The other section gives you the opportunity to provide feedback on this action plan and to raise other suggestions or concerns as to campus security.

One registration will enable you to post in both parts of the forum. My colleagues in the administration and I very much look forward to your feedback.

Let me close this message as I opened it: Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our students. I pledge to you today that we will not waver in our determination to fully implement this plan. And I pledge that we will never lose sight of the imperative to provide the entire Homewood campus community a safe environment for living, learning and working, and to do so in close collaboration with the city, the neighborhoods, and each of you.

Sincerely,

William R Brody
President


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