Johns Hopkins University plans to organize a private police force on campus—a proposal that has been met with backlash and protests since it was originally considered and shut down three years ago following protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, CBS Baltimore reports. On Friday, the university hosted its third and final town hall on the proposal, which officials moved online after the previous in-person sessions on Sep. 22 and Sep. 29 were disrupted by chanting protesters.
Why are some protesting the prospective police force?
While some students said they welcome extra security on campus, others criticized the university’s plan to bring more police on school grounds. Some critics also questioned the purpose of the town hall meetings and whether officials were sincerely considering public comment, after protesters were asked to move outside during the in-person sessions.
“I am frustrated that community questions and reflection were again drowned out,” said Erricka Bridgeford, a co-creator of Baltimore Ceasefire, an anti-violence organization dedicated to promoting peace in the city. Councilwoman Odette Ramos, who represents the district where university’s police force would operate, is concerned about its responsibility to the community. “To me, the answer isn’t more police, especially police that isn’t accountable to the public,” she said.
Under the current proposal, the university’s police force would be armed and required to wear body cameras. The force’s jurisdiction would be restricted to Johns Hopkins’ campuses, except for instances involving pursuit of a suspect or traffic direction.
Anything else I should know?
A spokesperson for the university wrote in a statement in response to the protests, “We continue to encourage members of our community and neighbors throughout Baltimore to participate in the extensive MOU engagement process which includes the public comment period, city council review, and additional listening sessions.”
Three members of the Coalition Against Policing by Hopkins filed a lawsuit against the Baltimore Police and other parties involved in the creation of the police force to slow the final steps. A November ballot referendum could also redirect oversight of the police department from the Maryland General Assembly to Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and the City Council, which could affect the Hopkins police force decision.
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