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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 7, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 21
Security Measures Stepped Up

Plans include more guards and patrols, tighter dorm controls

President William R. Brody announced last week in an open letter to the university community a series of new initiatives intended to enhance the safety and security of students on the Homewood campus and in the neighboring community. The President's Office and deans of the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering have committed an initial $2 million to finance the improvements, which include the hiring of off-duty police and tightening security measures at residence halls.

In the letter — sent on Jan. 31 to students, parents, faculty and staff — Brody wrote that the deaths of two students in the past year have focused the attention of everyone in the Homewood campus community as never before on issues of security.

"We know that is just the beginning. Our eventual investment will be much more than [$2 million]," he said. "But I pledge to you that we will spend whatever it takes to secure this community."

Linda Trinh, a senior biomedical engineering major, was the victim of an apparent homicide on Jan. 23 in her apartment in a privately owned building across Charles Street from the Homewood campus. In April 2004, junior Chris Elser was the victim of a fatal stabbing by an intruder in an off-campus apartment building occupied by members of a fraternity.

Some of the measures Brody announced will go into effect either immediately or within the next 30 days. Some, he noted, will take a little longer to implement, from 30 to 90 days, or are longer-term initiatives.

In terms of short-term action, the university 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. Patrols will begin as soon as the officers can be engaged. The university is also contracting for additional foot-patrol guards from Broadway Services Inc. Silver Star Security, which provides the bulk of the guard force at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Johns Hopkins Bayview and Mount Washington campuses. When the process of adding forces is complete, the university will have increased its guards from 14 every 24-hour period to 30.

At the onset, the university 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 as experience dictates and with input from students.

As of today, Feb. 7, the university will replace the current guard service that staffs the security desk at Homewood Apartments with BSI personnel, who will check IDs and obtain positive identification of all guests and visitors. BSI guards also will be stationed at the Bradford Apartments. Both buildings are owned by Johns Hopkins.

The university has 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 station. The plan is expected to be finalized by Feb. 28, and phased implementation will follow soon thereafter.

Other immediate measures are as follows:

Johns Hopkins has aggressively pursued city, electric utility and university improvements in street lighting in Charles Village. To date, a list of 22 specific recommendations for additional improvements in lighting in the community has been compiled. JHU is already implementing those recommendations as they apply to university buildings and is working with owners of private property to encourage and assist them in installing the necessary lights.

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

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

Parent and student representatives will be added to Johns Hopkins' Committee on Campus Safety and Security. The first of frequent, regular meetings of the expanded committee will begin shortly. The committee, under the chairmanship of James McGill, senior vice president for finance and administration, will monitor the progress in implementing this action plan and recommend additional steps.

President Brody will appoint a group of outside experts to conduct a review of campus security and recommend improvements. This measure is in addition to ongoing consultation with peer universities to ensure that JHU is following best safety and security practices.

As part of the 30- to 90-day action plan, the university will tighten resident and guest check-in procedures at Wolman and McCoy halls. Specifically, lobby areas will be reconfigured so that anyone entering the buildings must pass through turnstiles and identify themselves to a security officer. No one, including residents and other students, will be able to "tailgate," that is 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 roughly 45 days.

On the campus side of Charles Street, similar resident and guest check-in procedures will be implemented at the Alumni Memorial Residences, where additional guards have been stationed since fall. Given the physical configuration of these buildings — each of which has multiple entrances — the university 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, again with no tailgating. Architects will immediately be engaged to draw up plans, and construction is planned to start before the end of the semester.

The university 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 Hopkins will work actively to encourage landlords of those buildings to improve security.

In terms of long-term action, President Brody said that Johns Hopkins is committed to meeting the need of students for more university-owned housing so that any undergraduate student who desires to live in a university building can do so. This summer, ground was broken on Charles Commons, a university-owned mixed-use complex located on the north side of East 33rd Street between North Charles and St. Paul streets. The facility will house more than 600 students when it opens in fall 2006. President Brody has also directed that the university speed up the planning process for additional student housing, including an expanded freshman quadrangle on the campus side of Charles Street.

Brody said that one primary goal must be to protect the stability and enhance the livability of the nearby neighborhoods where so many students, 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," he said. "Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our students. I pledge to you today that we will not waiver 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."


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