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'It made campus less safe': Johns Hopkins University students protest against proposed campus police force

Posted at 9:42 PM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-23 07:54:27-04

BALTIMORE — Student protesters from Johns Hopkins University flocked to Shriver Hall where a meeting took place regarding a plan to create a private police force.

College students say they're fearful of having private armed police on campus, because they worry the Hopkins officers will target people of color and cause fear and discomfort on campus.

"I think Baltimore is a dangerous neighborhood. It's a dangerous area, but I don't necessarily think increased police presence here will do justice to the community. I think there's other ways of protecting the students, not just through the use of police," said Jaden Edogie, Hopkins student.

According to the university, the police force would handle vehicle accidents without serious injury, larcenies, burglaries, DUI's and trespassing. Baltimore City Police would handle major investigations involving violent crimes.

Officials say this understanding between the university and the city police is equipped to keep people safer, but others beg to differ.

"A group of black faculty met with president Daniels and told him in no uncertain terms that we thought that it was a bad idea. We thought that it made campus less safe, less safe for populations like ours, we thought that it exacerbated inequality between Hopkins and nearby communities," said Lester Spence, Johns Hopkins professor.

"With the massive amount of funding and resources Hopkins has, there are more successful programs that have to try other than having a private police force. It could fund education resources in Baltimore, it could fund mental health resources," said David Donald, Hopkins Student.

However, some people think the campus police could be beneficial to the university.

"I'm supportive of it. I fully believe in Dr. Daniel's vision, and I believe looking at the MOC and how it outlines, I think it's in our best interest to find a way to work with them. So, we end up having a force that could appease pretty much everybody," said Shedrick Eliott, assistant track and field coach.

Johns Hopkins University sent WMAR-2 News this statement:

“Johns Hopkins University held the first of three town halls tonight to discuss the draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Baltimore Police Department and the Johns Hopkins University Police Department. Despite interruptions, the university was able to present the draft MOU at Shriver Hall and via livestream and took questions and feedback from the community during a livestreamed Q&A session. The MOU is an operational agreement between JHU and the BPD that represents the first step toward the development of a small, publicly accountable, community-oriented police department at JHU.

“At Johns Hopkins, we strongly value free expression and fully support the right to protest. We also believe we must be able to engage civilly across our differences and have difficult conversations about the challenging issues we face together as a community, such as public safety. Individuals who wish to participate in a constructive dialog will have additional opportunities to share their comments and questions at one of two remaining town halls, or by email or through the feedback option on our public safety website. The feedback captured through the public engagement period will directly inform the final operational agreement between the BPD and Johns Hopkins, and we continue to encourage members of our community to participate in the ongoing MOU engagement process, which includes the public comment period and city council review.”

The university says officers employed by Hopkins are unable to use their law enforcement power outside their properties.

View the Johns Hopkins University Q&A here.