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Maryland House Judiciary Committee advances Johns Hopkins police legislation

Maryland’s House of Delegates Judiciary Committee voted 13-8 Thursday night to advance legislation to authorize a police force for Johns Hopkins University.

The committee voted for the bill after adding a series of amendments, including one that requires a member of the university's Black Faculty and Staff Association to sit on the accountability board that will oversee the force; another that prohibits the force from using surplus military equipment; and a third that mandates officers are trained in the legal use of searches.

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The committee also added an amendment requiring Hopkins police officers to have their body-worn cameras turned on.

“They not only have to wear them; they have to use them,” said Del. Luke Clippinger, a Baltimore Democrat who is chairman of the committee.

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The Maryland Senate has already approved the legislation by a 42-2 vote, and it has the backing of the Baltimore House delegation. It now advances to the full House chamber for a vote.

Both chambers must pass the bill for it to become law.

Dayvon Love, policy director for the Baltimore think tank Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, said powerful interests are working on behalf of the bill despite opposition from people who live near Johns Hopkins.

“We know there was intense pressure from leadership to get this bill out of committee against the will of the community that has been coming out almost every day,” Love said.

The bill would permit Hopkins to employ up to 100 armed officers.

As a bill to create an armed Johns Hopkins University police force moves toward likely passage, albeit with limits that would keep officers on campus, neighbors and owners of nearby businesses remain divided over whether more policing would make them safer or put people at risk.

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