BALTIMORE (AP) — Johns Hopkins University has picked a Massachusetts police commissioner to serve as a vice president for public safety, signaling plans to move forward with the creation of a private police force that has sparked protests in the past, news outlets report.
The university announced Tuesday that Branville Bard Jr. will oversee security for the university, its medicine campuses and other facilities worldwide starting Aug. 30. He will also “play a leading role in the development and implementation of the Johns Hopkins Police Department.”
The university had announced last year that it was pausing plans for the force for at least two years amid nationwide protests against police brutality. Having a vice president for public safety is a prerequisite to begin negotiations with Baltimore police to formalize force operations.
After more than two decades with the Philadelphia Police Department, Bard served two years as the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s police chief. Cambridge, Massachusetts, hired Bard nearly four years ago to lead its force of nearly 300 officers.
The university has argued the force is needed in a city with high rates of violent crime. But opponents, including students, faculty and lawmakers, have fought the plan and even staged a monthlong sit-in in 2019.