BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Maryland Senate is on track to green light the bill allowing Johns Hopkins to establish its own police department.
The bill puts armed officers on patrol around Johns Hopkins neighborhoods and has divided the Baltimore City Delegation and caused disputes between groups in and around the campus and hospital.
The bill is called the Community Safety and Strengthening Act, and just the name has drawn opposition.
Senator Jill Carter, (D) Baltimore, offered an amendment to make it more specific.
“The amendment would change the title of the bill to Private Institution Police Force Establishment,” she said.
The amendment was rejected.
In an earlier hearing this session, Johns Hopkins officials cited crime as a major concern.
Johns Hopkins Hospital President Redonda Miller told lawmakers, “I talked to our employees, I talked to our patients and I must tell you overwhelmingly what we hear loud and clear is that they are worried about their safety.”
But Baltimore Senator Mary Washington said the bill is being rushed.
“We’re establishing a Vatican city with all the powers of policing,” she said. “It has its own transportation system, it’s the biggest employer in the state and whenever we extend police powers we have to be careful of this,” she said.
The bill was defended on the basis of the Baltimore City Delegation vote 9-4 to pass the bill for a full vote.
“It was pretty well publicized that after many hearings and many deliberations, the Baltimore City Delegation voted in favor of this,” said Baltimore County Senator Bobby Zirkin.
Still, Senator Washington questions the effectiveness of a private police force.
“The police force for Johns Hopkins is only going to handle theft, it’s only going to handle burglary not any of the things where we could truly use support,” she said.
A final vote could come Thursday, and if passed, the bill moves to the House of Delegates.