BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A group of Johns Hopkins students, faculty and alumni gathered at Wyman Park on Monday to call for an end to any plans to create a private police force at the university’s Baltimore campuses.

Protesters said they’re worried a private police force could potentially do more harm than good when it comes to keeping people safe. Instead, they want to see those resources used elsewhere in the community.

Earlier this month, the university announced it would put its plans to create a police department on hold for two years amid the nationwide conversation over police brutality and racial injustice.

In a statement, the university said in part that its goal was to “reduce as much as possible our reliance on sworn policing as a public safety strategy.”

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The group that gathered Monday said they don’t want to see Hopkins pick up the discussions where they left off in two years or at all.

“When we say ‘No private police,’ we mean no now, no not in two years, no ever,” student Erini Lambrides said to applause from the crowd.

Lambrides said the university’s announcement earlier this month doesn’t go far enough.

“It wasn’t taken as a win; it was taken as the university buying off this moment (to) waste some time, maybe things will die down and maybe people will stop shouting about this,” Lambrides said.

Organizers said they’re also concerned the private police force could lead to racial profiling, police brutality and a lack of public accountability.

More than 6,000 people signed a petition opposing the plan to establish a police force to cover Hopkins’ Homewood and Peabody campuses as well as the area around the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The protesters carried the petition to the school’s president on Monday.

“It’s time to invest in what really matters, Johns Hopkins: your workers, your community,” one demonstrator said.

Johns Hopkins’ full statement reads as follows:

“Johns Hopkins University decided to pause the implementation of the Johns Hopkins Police Department for at least two years so we can engage in and be informed by the broader efforts to reform policing. Our goal is to reduce as much as possible our reliance on sworn policing as a public safety strategy. During that time, we will not take further steps to implement a campus police department.

“Johns Hopkins is already deeply involved in alternative approaches to reducing criminal violence in our city, including a contribution of $2 million to bring the nationally recognized Roca program to Baltimore to intervene on behalf of high-risk youths and the provision of faculty guidance for the work of Safe Streets Baltimore. We intend to continue and expand on those efforts in the years ahead.”

Kelsey Kushner

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