Johns Hopkins University: Branville Bard Jr. Joins Johns Hopkins as Public Safety V.P.

Branville Bard Jr., an experienced and community-oriented law enforcement leader who has earned a reputation as a vocal advocate for social justice, racial equity, and police reform, has been selected as Johns Hopkins’ new vice president for public safety. Beginning Aug. 30, Bard will oversee security operations for all Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine campuses and facilities worldwide, with the exception of the Applied Physics Laboratory.

“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, Paul Rothman, M.D., dean of the medical faculty for the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Kevin W. Sowers, M.S.N., R.N., F.A.A.N., president of the Johns Hopkins Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said in a message to the Johns Hopkins community. “His commitment to developing progressive approaches to public safety made him a clear choice.”

A committee of students, community members, faculty and staff identified Bard through a national search, informed by extensive outreach to internal and external stakeholders about the skills, experience, and perspective needed for this position.

“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.”

Bard is currently police commissioner of Cambridge, Mass., where he has regularly encountered the issues and public safety challenges associated with campus environments and health care facilities. Among many noteworthy accomplishments during his tenure, he 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 brought in the department’s first child psychologist to connect Cambridge youth and their families with mental health services, and its first recovery coach to help address challenges presented by the opioid epidemic.

Most recently, he launched a departmentwide effort to proactively 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.

“Commissioner Bard’s leadership is driven by his values and shaped by his life experiences,” said Massachusetts Representative Marjorie Decker (D-25th Middlesex). “His commitment to our community has been fueled by a deep understanding that when we collectively meet the need of our community and collaborate to respond to the social determinants of health we are a safer, kinder more inclusive community that sees individuals as valuable members of a community.”

Before joining the Cambridge department, Bard quickly ascended through the ranks of the police department in his native Philadelphia, culminating in the leadership of the city’s largest police district, where he oversaw both reductions in crime and improvements in police-community relations. He was subsequently recruited to serve as chief of police and director of public safety for the Philadelphia Housing Authority Police Department, the fourth-largest such agency in the nation.

Bard is also a respected national voice on police reform who has publicly called for a reckoning related to racial justice. In his role at Johns Hopkins, Bard will oversee the institution’s ongoing efforts to model best practices within its security workforce and play a leading role in the development and implementation of the Johns Hopkins Police Department (JHPD). He will also help lead two recently announced public safety initiatives— the Innovation Fund for Community Safety, a four-year, $6 million commitment to support innovative, community-led programs designed to curb violence, and the Behavioral Health Crisis Response Initiative, an effort to better support students, faculty, staff, and community members who experience a behavioral health crisis on or near campus.

“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.

Bard earned both a doctorate of public administration and a master’s degree in criminal justice from Valdosta State University where his dissertation focused on strategies to eliminate racial profiling. He also earned a master’s degree in public safety management from St. Joseph’s University. He has been recognized with numerous awards and citations.

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