BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The bill to authorize Johns Hopkins to operate its own police force has been approved by a legislative committee and will be debated on the floor of the House next week.
Proponents say the bill would make Johns Hopkins campuses safer, while opponents say it could put neighborhoods at risk.READ MORE: Women Charged With Arson After Allegedly Setting Fire To One Of Their Mother's Home
On March 14, a stray bullet shattered a window on the 6th floor of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Outpatient Cancer building.
It was added evidence from Johns Hopkins in a hearing to have its own police force.
Kevin Sowers, President of the Johns Hopkins Health System told members of the House Judiciary Committee what happened.
“There were two of our employees in that building at the time the bullet entered the building,” Sowers said. “Within minutes a victim, a local member of our community, arrived in our emergency room with a fatal head wound.”
The Johns Hopkins proposal is to create a 100-person armed police force to patrol its campuses and hospital using best police practices.
But surrounding communities are divided as to whether this could lead to over policing and profiling.
Charis Bilal opposes the bill.READ MORE: Baltimore City Schools Announces Summer Operating Schedule
“For example, it will touch into my neighborhood, and so folks in my neighborhood have already been profiled by Johns Hopkins security force officers,” he said.
Garret Patrick supports the bill.
“Basically we were able to essentially have unanimous support on my block, which is a pretty representative block of what east Baltimore and the area looks like,” he said.
No one disputes the level of crime in Baltimore, but opponents say a private police force is not the answer.
Caylin Young, ACLU Public Policy Counsel, testified against the proposal.
“This police force would not actually address the significant crime concerns we all know Baltimore faces,” Young said. “We believe the voters should be able to choose on the privatization of a police force in their city, and that the focus needs to be on fixing the Baltimore City Police Department, and not on the creation of a new police department.”
The House Judiciary Committee added a series of amendments and voted 13-8 to send it to the Full House for a vote next week.
The Senate has already passed a bill authorizing JHU police.MORE NEWS: Governor Hogan Celebrates First Greater Baltimore Area Fortune 500 Companies In A Decade