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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 21, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 26
Ron Mullen, Director of Homewood Security, to Retire

Ron Mullen leaves behind a modernized, sophisticated police department.

By Dennis O'Shea

Ron Mullen, who transformed security operations at Homewood during a period of unprecedented growth for the campus, has announced he will retire after nearly 13 years with the university.

Mullen, previously deputy police commissioner in Baltimore, joined Johns Hopkins at a time when the Security Department owned one computer, a pair of typewriters, two cars and an SUV that could be held in four-wheel drive only with the assistance of a coat hanger. Patrols focused primarily on the campus proper.

He will leave behind a modernized department of 48 commissioned special police officers, including two dedicated full time to investigations. They employ sophisticated computer programs to map student residences, crime patterns and patrol areas. They combine those maps to determine how best to deploy their resources, which now include 44 contract guards and, added most recently, 30 off-duty Baltimore police officers.

With nine vehicles, Mullen's team now patrols areas well off campus in all directions, as far away as Johns Hopkins at Eastern. That huge complex is only one of a number of facilities for which Mullen is responsible that either didn't exist or didn't belong to the university when he came to Johns Hopkins in 1992.

"Ron has served extremely capably as head of Homewood safety and security services for nearly 13 years," said James T. McGill, senior vice president for finance and administration. "I admire Ron's professionalism, dedication to Johns Hopkins and selfless focus on the myriad of crises and day-to-day tasks required of him. He has set in place an excellent security program that has served the campus well."

McGill praised Mullen for setting in motion years ago preparations for further modernization of the Security Department, including, among other actions, ensuring that new campus buildings were constructed ready for closed-circuit television cameras. That preparation and a planning exercise that Mullen started early last year laid much of the groundwork for a security action plan announced by President Brody in January, shortly after the homicide of senior Linda Trinh in her off-campus apartment.

Mullen, who earlier had planned to retire sometime next year, said he realized recently that full implementation of the action plan — beginning now with a first-phase network of 32 smart cameras and a number of other initiatives — would best be accomplished by someone in the director's chair for the long haul.

"Just as our efforts that started in 1992 warranted a security director who could seamlessly guide and nurture them over the years, so do these new efforts," Mullen said. "For me to not alter my plans ... by a matter of months to the benefit of an institution I so highly regard would be beneath my professional and personal standards.

"And, while I am admittedly addicted to challenge," he said, "to take this one on would also be unfair to my family, whose understanding over the years of long days and interrupted nights has been extraordinary."

Mullen's overhaul of his department in 13 years has gone far beyond issues of technology and a much larger turf. In an interview with The Gazette in September 1992, only weeks after he started on the job, the new director said one of his top priorities was "to encourage a closer working relationship between members of the campus community at large and members of the Security Department ... consistent with our philosophy of not making these decisions by ourselves, but going out and saying, 'This is an area we think we should be in. Do you agree, disagree? What other areas do you think we should be in?'"

Mullen has stuck with that philosophy throughout his tenure. He is often found touring the campus at night with students, looking for areas of poor visibility; meeting with student leaders and departmental or office groups; and participating in campus events. He has improved his department's communication on its activities and reporting on area crime, and instituted training programs not only on policing and safety but also on such issues as cultural awareness. He also has built bridges to community groups and to a series of Northern District police commanders and other law enforcement officials.

"Hopkins is a great place to work," Mullen said. "I expect to remain fully involved as director while the search is under way and until my successor is appointed and a smooth transition accomplished. After that, I intend to take full advantage of some of the other marvelous endeavors Hopkins has to offer and remain active in ... professional circles."

McGill said he will lead a thorough but rapid search. He also said he will transfer responsibility for parking and for the Homewood-Peabody-JHMI shuttle to the Office of Facilities, so that the new director can focus on safety issues.


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