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Johns Hopkins Police Force moving closer to a vote

johns hopkins university
Posted at 11:14 PM, Feb 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-22 07:34:14-05

BALTIMORE, Md. (WMAR) — The Baltimore City Delegation will be hearing a bill that proposes a private Johns Hopkins University police force.

This is an issue that has prompted protests and garnered support in and around the university and hospital where the officers would serve.

The bill that's being proposed breaks down what powers and responsibilities the Hopkins police force would have.

It also explains who would oversee and keep it in check— and requests millions of dollars in state funding for youth programs in the city to help with violence reduction.

The 15 person accountability board would be made up of members of the nearby communities, students, faculty and staff, and a member appointed by the Mayor and one appointed by Baltimore City Council.

Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle is a think tank focused on changing public polices to benefit the black community.

Adam Jackson, the groups Chief Executive Officer, said they are firmly against Hopkins getting a police force.

“It undermines police accountability because Johns Hopkins University operates almost as a private corporation because it’s a private institution,” said Jackson. “They are not subject to the same rules or regulations that a state agency would be subject too, even though they have all these boards and commissions set up in the bill to address it.”

A spokesperson for the university released this statement:

Johns Hopkins University welcomes the engagement of our campus community, neighbors, alumni, elected officials and others who have voiced their views on legislation to establish a small, community-oriented and publicly-accountable university police department. While some who oppose any police presence at Johns Hopkins continue to do so, the overall response to SB 793 has been quite positive, as the bill addresses the concerns raised previously and establishes a very high standard of transparency, public accountability and community engagement. The bill as written requires unparalleled oversight and accountability to State and local government and the public, more than any other law enforcement body in Maryland.
We are also pleased that this legislation includes a series of proposals to help address the root causes of crime through investments in community development, youth engagement, and economic opportunity. This comprehensive approach to public safety will support our communities while also making a significant contribution to the safety of our city and the neighborhoods around our academic and medical campuses in Baltimore. We look forward to continued dialogue and engagement on this important matter. We encourage our community to visit our dedicated website [publicsafetyinitiatives.jhu.edu] throughout the legislative session, where we will post relevant documents and information as they becomes available.”

Jackson said any money spent on a police force is wasted when it could be focused on fighting crime.

“The State should invest that money in anti-violence programs and anti violence resources in the city of Baltimore.”

Adding that the group feels the police force isn’t about public safety but is about addressing peoples insecurities around race and racism in that part of the city.

“This is about the scary Negros and black folks that they are afraid of in their community,” said Jackson.

Here is a link to the full bill.

The Senate hearing is Friday morning at 9 am in the Maryland Legislative Services Building in the Joint Sub-Committee Room.