Johns Hopkins police force bill contains funding for youth programs, requires oversight from two boards

Johns Hopkins University campus security guards are stationed near the academic campus, at the intersection of 33rd and St. Paul Streets, where undergraduates talk Oct. 23, 2018, outside a Barnes and Noble bookstore.
Johns Hopkins University campus security guards are stationed near the academic campus, at the intersection of 33rd and St. Paul Streets, where undergraduates talk Oct. 23, 2018, outside a Barnes and Noble bookstore. (Amy Davis / The Baltimore Sun)

Legislation that would authorize Johns Hopkins University to create an armed police force contains several provisions aimed at gaining support from Baltimore lawmakers.

The bill — called the Community Safety and Strengthening Act — contains provisions that include requiring the state to provide $3.5 million for the city’s Children and Youth Fund and $1 million toward Mayor Catherine Pugh’s YouthWorks summer jobs program. It also calls for the Hopkins police force to establish at least one Police Athletic League center in Baltimore to offer activities for youth.


State Sen. Antonio Hayes, who is chairman of Baltimore’s Senate delegation, submitted the legislation Monday on Pugh’s behalf. Hayes said he’s not necessarily on board with the Hopkins police force, but he said he appreciated the effort to emphasize programs to help young people stay away from crime.

“More policing isn’t going to address our problems,” Hayes said. “Let’s invest in some programs in the community to get at the root causes of crime.”


The Johns Hopkins University has released its own draft of a proposed state law that would allow it to establish a campus police force, including measures to address concerns about transparency and accountability by the private institution.

The legislation also would subject the new police force for the private university to two oversight boards.

There would be a 15-member “accountability board” with students, staff and facility, as well as residents of nearby neighborhoods. Hopkins leadership would appoint a majority of the board’s members, but Pugh and City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young would each appoint a member, as well. The board would meet quarterly and hold at least one public meeting a year.

Hopkins’ police force also would be subject to the jurisdiction of Baltimore’s Civilian Review Board, which fields constituents’ complaints against police.

State Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore Democrat who is chairwoman of the city’s House delegation, said she would submit companion legislation by Thursday but had not yet decided whether to vote for the bill.

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire ex-mayor of New York and benefactor of Johns Hopkins University, says it’s “ridiculous” that the institution doesn’t have an armed police force. Bloomberg spoke to reporters after closed-door meetings at the State House in Annapolis with Democratic lawmakers.

Last session, Baltimore lawmakers backed off a proposal to approve a police force at Hopkins amid community backlash. Lawmakers from three districts that are home to Hopkins’ schools and hospitals said they were inundated by concerns from constituents.

Acknowledging missteps last year, Hopkins officials said they are working with community leaders to build consensus for a force they see as necessary to deal with encroaching crime and violence.

This year’s legislation states the force can operate on any property that is “owned, leased or operated” by Johns Hopkins, its hospital or the Peabody Institute. The legislation also states Hopkins police may patrol property adjacent to the campuses, including sidewalks, streets and parking garages.

The bill also states the force would enter into a “memorandum of understanding” with the Baltimore Police Department. Under the terms of the agreement, Baltimore police would take primary responsibility for theft, burglary and motor vehicle theft investigations and maintain evidence from crime scenes.

The university’s police department would have to adopt training standards from the Maryland State Police, the legislation states.

Johns Hopkins University officials are reviving a proposal to improve campus security — including the possibility of creating a campus police force — and they're asking community members to tell them what they think. A series of forums and community conversations are planned.

The bill also would require the university to report publicly each year arrest and traffic stop statistics; information about complaints about officers; information about in-custody deaths; the department’s staffing and cost of operations.

Separately, Sen. Mary Washington, a Baltimore Democrat who has raised concerns about the Hopkins proposal, offered a bill that would allow private colleges — not just Johns Hopkins — to have police forces that would be an extension of the University System of Maryland’s existing police forces. That way, she said, the police officers would be public employees and the departments would be public agencies.

“I really feel like this could be a way to do something really innovative and different when it comes to campus policing,” Washington said. “I’m just maintaining that policing is a public responsibility.”


In recent weeks, a number of powerful figures have pledged support for Hopkins’ effort to create a police department, including Hogan, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and billionaire alumnus Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg, the billionaire ex-mayor of New York and benefactor of the Johns Hopkins University who is considering a presidential run, said last month it’s “ridiculous” the institution doesn’t have an armed police force.

“When you have a city that has the murder rate that Baltimore has, I think it’s ridiculous to think that they shouldn’t be armed,” Bloomberg told reporters gathered at the State House.

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