Johns Hopkins University might soon have its own police department if its proposed public safety bill passes a vote by Maryland’s General Assembly.
The proposal in the bill seeks to authorize the university to establish its own police department to provide safety and security on its campus and on other campuses in Baltimore.
The bill aims to make the department publicly accountable by establishing a 15-member accountability board to review its policies, training and proceeds, as well as a hearing board to look into the cases of misconduct. The department would also strive to use best practices in constitutional and community-oriented policing.
“A desire for transparency and public accountability was among the prevailing themes to emerge from the many community conversations the university convened over the past several months,” the university said in a release.
“The conversations were part of a wide-ranging effort to hear from students, faculty, staff, community members, and city leaders about their concerns with safety; evaluate different models for university-based policing, and gather feedback on ways to reduce crime on campus and in neighboring communities.”
Last month, the university published an interim study report recommending replacing the current contingent of armed and off-duty Baltimore City police officers with a smaller, university-based department instead.
If the bill passes, the university is planning to hire 100 officers who would receive training in racial profiling prevention, de-escalation techniques, and crisis response. The majority of additional security personnel at the university will remain unarmed.
The bill has been referred to committee for review and hearings. If it passes out of committee, it will go to the full chamber for a vote.