BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Johns Hopkins University students are divided over a bill that would allow the university to create its own police force.
The police force on campus would work alongside Baltimore City Police.
The issue has students talking — even holding a protest Thursday against the idea.
“Say it loud, say it clear, private cops not welcome here!” crowds chanted.
Proposed Maryland legislation would allow Hopkins University to create its own independent police force to patrol its academic and medical campuses in Baltimore.
“I think that honestly, having a police force on campus is pushing it to another extreme,” said Hopkins graduate Amy Chen.
The bill would bring Hopkins in-line with a majority of universities nationwide. Public safety expert Rob Weinhold says it’s best practice.
“It’s an incredibly smart move to have an independent policing agency policing the medical institution and the academic campus,” he said.
But not all students feel it’s necessary.
“I don’t think we need a full-fledged police force, but I mean maybe some way to get quick response in dangerous situations where students are involved,” said senior Ariana Sherman.
The rhetoric is ramping up as the university investigates a reported sexual assault at the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity house last weekend.
While both the victim and suspect are known, a Hopkins police force would have the power to make an arrest — unlike the current security officers on campus who are unarmed.
“I understand that people want to feel safe, but I just don’t agree with the idea of bringing guns on campus in any way, shape or form,” Hopkins senior Maribel Leddy said.
The university says if the bill passes and is signed into law, they would work with police to find a balance of scope, power and jurisdiction.
“There’s nothing wrong with Hop cops as it is right now, so as long as it keeps well-regulated, I don’t think it’ll be much of an issue. I think it’s an overblown issue at this point,” Hopkins freshman Zachary Poole said.
Public universities in the city, such as Morgan State, Coppin State, Loyola University and the University of Baltimore already have their own university police departments.