Petition Against a Johns Hopkins Private Police Force
Update: March 23, 2019
This session, Delegate Cheryl Glenn and Senator Antonio Hayes introduced HB 1094/ SB793. If passed, this bill will authorize the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to establish an armed police department with arrest powers for property crimes. Despite amendments made to the bill, we, the undersigned, oppose any proposal to give Johns Hopkins University the authority to create a private police force and will continue this fight at state, city, and neighborhood levels. Please consider our reasoning below.
Update: February 4, 2019
On March 30th, 2018, legislators announced that they would not support the bill that would enable Johns Hopkins to establish a private police force at the time. After a period of interim study,¹ Johns Hopkins has again decided to pursue legislation that would allow the university to create a private police force. New draft legislation was released on January 30th, 2019.²
In light of these new developments, we stand by our opposition to any legislation that allows Johns Hopkins University to create a private police force. We also reaffirm each of the points delineating our reasoning that are listed below.
We, the undersigned, oppose any proposal to give Johns Hopkins University the authority to create a private police force.
On March 5th, House Bill 1803 and Senate Bill 1241 were introduced into the Maryland General Assembly with vocal support from Hopkins.³ If passed, these bills would allow independent institutions of higher education in Baltimore City to establish private campus police forces with the ability to make arrests.
We unequivocally oppose the creation of a Johns Hopkins private police force for a variety of reasons, including:
● A private police force would have the authority to bring weapons on to campus, including guns, military grade pepper spray and drug detection dogs. Weapons on campus increase fear and do not make us safer.⁴
● Black and brown students and Baltimoreans are already disproportionately targeted. Private police on campus are likely to exacerbate racial profiling, with even more dangerous and potentially fatal consequences.
● A police force accountable to a private entity, and not community members, will impact those living, working, and traveling in and around Hopkins properties. The borders of Johns Hopkins are ill-defined and expanding, as the institution continues to gentrify the city.
● Police are more likely to criminalize minor disciplinary incidents, such as drinking and noise complaints, which may result in more arrests, prosecutions, and serious legal consequences.
● Establishing a private police force strengthens Hopkins’ relationship with the Baltimore Police Department (BPD). The BPD is currently under investigation for one of the largest police corruption cases in American history, in which 8 officers from the Gun Trace Task Force have been convicted.⁵
● Investigations into the misconduct of private police officers are likely to be even less transparent than those concerning public police officers.
● A private police presence is likely to discourage students from exercising their freedom of expression, such as participating in protests.
● Establishing a private police force would continue Hopkins’ legacy of exploiting Baltimore citizens, further damaging the relationship between Hopkins and Baltimore communities. Among others, this bill contradicts the institution’s core values of transparency, inclusion and equity.
We demand that Johns Hopkins retract support for HB1803/SB1241 and terminate plans to create a private police force.
¹Interim Study on Approaches to Improving Public Safety on and around Johns Hopkins University Campuses. (2018). Johns Hopkins University Public Safety Initiatives. Accessed from
⁴ Webster, D. W., Donohue III, J. J., Klarevas, J. L., & McGinty, E. E. (2016). Firearms on College Campuses: Research Evidence and Policy Implications. Center for Gun Policy and Research, Johns Hopkins University.
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