Faculty members at Johns Hopkins University are not happy with a recently proposed public safety bill in Maryland’s General Assembly that authorizes the school to establish its own police department.
More than 60 faculty members have signed an open letter in opposition to the proposed bill, characterizing the proposal as an “armed private police force.” The faculty members also termed the potential creation of the police force as undemocratic and exposing students more to risks.
“We believe that a private police force conveys a perception of Hopkins as a campus in an antagonistic relation with nonwhite and economically precarious Baltimore City and subscribes in its enforcement policies to the logic of racial profiling,” the letter reads.
“We are concerned that once in place, police administrations will inevitably amplify the climate of fear and justify their roles by citing stops, arrests, and detainments.”
Introduced on February 4, the proposal states that the police department would provide safety and security on the Johns Hopkins campus and on other campuses in Baltimore. The proposal also includes establishing a 15-member accountability board to review the university’s policies, training and proceeds, as well as a hearing board to look into the cases of misconduct.
The signatories have alleged the university of not providing serious evidence to back its claims of intended effects.
“Despite a series of community meetings and public forums, this bill fails to adequately address concerns raised by campus and community members,” the letter says.
The committee for review and hearings is currently studying the bill. If it passes out of committee, it will go to the full chamber for a vote.