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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 21, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 26
Security Initiatives Move Ahead

Details announced for patrols, cameras, lighting

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Implementation is progressing at a rapid pace for a series of new initiatives intended to enhance the safety and security of students on the Homewood campus and in the neighboring community.

The deaths of two students in the past year have focused the attention of the Homewood campus community as never before on issues of safety. In response, President William R. Brody enacted in late January a 15-point security action plan, funded by an initial $2 million from the President's Office and the Homewood deans, and expanded a standing task force into a 26-member Committee on Homewood Safety and Security.

In addition to measures taken in the first weeks of the plan's enactment, such as the hiring of additional guards at residence halls and for community patrols, the university has further increased patrol presence in and around the campus and forged ahead with plans for video camera surveillance, more tightly secured and guard-monitored entrances to student residences, and enhanced lighting in the surrounding community.

Linda Trinh, a senior biomedical engineering major, was the victim of a homicide on Jan. 23 in her residence in the Charles Apartments, a privately owned building on Charles Street across 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.

The Committee on Homewood Safety and Security is chaired by James T. McGill, senior vice president for finance and administration, and includes the Homewood deans, senior university administration, faculty, students, parents and a community representative. It is charged by President Brody with assessing safety and security issues, reviewing and commenting upon the plan for enhancements at Homewood, and communicating its progress to the JHU community.

The committee held its first meeting on March 2 and will convene again on March 23. To date, the committee has gathered comments and suggestions for improving safety from many sources, including peer institutions, and will review and comment on those it thinks most effective.

"The 15-point action plan articulated by President Brody remains very much a focus of the campus administration," McGill said. "All of the items are being followed up on and implemented."

Of note, community patrols utilizing off-duty Baltimore police officers and BSI Silver Star Security guards have begun. During evening and overnight shifts, two or three off-duty police are patrolling along Charles Street and in Charles Village, both on foot and in cars. The BSI guards, who had been patrolling the community on foot, begin regular bicycle patrols this week. When this program is fully implemented, four guards will be on duty 16 hours a day, from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., seven days a week throughout the school year. They will patrol from Charles Street to Calvert Street and from University Parkway to 29th Street. The initial priority will be patrolling along Charles Street.

BSI guards are now on duty 24 hours a day at the university-owned Homewood and Bradford apartment buildings. Also, a new intercom system has been installed at the Bradford that requires a guest to talk to his or her host and be buzzed in before entering; that intercom system is paired with a video camera that allows residents to use their computers to see the entry door and positively identify their guests before buzzing them in. The Homewood Apartments has a manned security desk.

As part of a larger surveillance effort, installation of the first phase of closed-circuit video surveillance of key on- and off-campus areas continues on schedule. The 32 cameras that comprise the first phase--which includes installations around the AMRs, the Mattin Center, Eisenhower Library and the Beach--will be operational this spring and will be monitored around the clock.

There will also be combined camera/emergency phone units elsewhere on Charles Street at Wolman Hall, Steinwald Alumni House, the Smokler Center for Jewish Life and the Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center. The early work also includes installations around the perimeter of the Homewood Apartments.

Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse Inc., the university's partner in the Charles Commons project now under construction, has added lighting to properties it owns in the nearby 3200 block of St. Paul Street. This new lighting greatly improves nighttime visibility between 32nd and 33rd streets. President Brody has sent letters to property owners along the Charles and St. Paul street corridors, asking for their cooperation in installing new lighting where Johns Hopkins has identified the need.

In another effort to maximize nighttime visibility, the university is working with area neighborhoods on a "Light Up the Night" program, encouraging homeowners to keep their porch lights on. The university is contributing 2,500 energy-efficient, long-life bulbs for distribution within the 100 blocks of the Charles Village Community Benefits District. The CVCBD and the Abell, Charles Village, Harwood and Old Goucher neighborhood associations all are part of the project. On March 10, the first 396 bulbs were put into the hands of volunteers for installation in the Abell neighborhood, and the other areas are on their way to similar action.

New hardware for the 32 existing blue light emergency telephones is being installed, correcting the phones' reliability problem. The university has also ordered six additional telephones and is doing an assessment, with input received from students and administrators, to determine where they might be most effectively located.

Though it was not part of the original security action plan, steps have been taken to improve security at the Dell House, which is owned by the university but is not part of its housing system. The building's management company is installing video cameras in the lobby that will be wired into the building's cable TV and buzzer systems, allowing tenants to use their TVs to view anyone seeking entry into the building. An emergency 911 phone is being installed in the lobby. Also, lighting has been added to the side and rear of the property.

Design is progressing on security-related changes at the AMRs. Plans include gated wrought iron fences that will funnel residents and guests to check-in points to enter AMR I, AMR II, Building A and Building B, limiting entrance options from the current 22 to three. At the check-in points, all visitors will be asked to show identification, and no one will be allowed to "tailgate," a term used for those who slip in behind someone who shows valid identification. Design will be completed in April, and construction will get under way in May. The new system will be operational for the start of the fall semester. Similar positive-identification requirements are being implemented across Charles Street at Wolman and McCoy halls, although, because of the configuration of those buildings, only relatively minor interior renovations are required there.

Separate from the security action plan, but still relevant to student safety, Baltimore City is readying changes to ensure the permanent demise of the recently closed Charles Street "death lane." What once was a rush-hour-only southbound travel lane will soon be converted to parking for northbound vehicles, making sure that traffic stays out of the lane and ending the temporary aesthetic blight of barriers and barrels.

Regular updates on the implementation of the security action plan for the Homewood campus are available online at


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