Saying that "the safety of our campus communities is a matter of utmost concern," Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels and Johns Hopkins Medicine CEO Paul Rothman announced today in a message to faculty, staff, and students that the university is exploring the establishment of a university police department.
The full text of their message is below:
Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff:
Over recent months, we have shared with you information about safety and security efforts on and around our university and medical campuses, including the significant and growing investments in Johns Hopkins' own multifaceted security operations. We write to inform you of related developments at the state and city levels as we consider a new step for Johns Hopkins: establishing a university police department, specifically trained to meet the unique needs of a university environment.
The safety of our campus communities is a matter of utmost concern for Johns Hopkins, and the idea of a university police department has been suggested to us with increased urgency over the past year, given the challenges of urban crime here in Baltimore and the threat of active shooters in educational and health care settings. Johns Hopkins' current security program is unusual among its peers; almost every other urban research university, across the country and in Baltimore, has a university police department as part of its security operation.
Last fall, we undertook a series of visits to university peers in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and we began to seek the advice of outside experts and to study the experience of university police departments. We also have been working closely with Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa to explore new ways to support and strengthen the public safety strategies of City Hall and the Baltimore Police Department (BPD).
We wanted you to be informed early of this process, which requires both state and city approvals. As a first step, a bill is being introduced this week in the Maryland General Assembly that would give private colleges and universities in Baltimore City the authority to work with the BPD to create a university police department. This legislation is modeled after the existing authorization for police departments at public universities in the city, including the University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Baltimore; Morgan State University; and Coppin State University. The department would be developed and implemented through a detailed agreement with BPD regarding the size, scope, training, and capabilities of a university police department in the same geographic area where we have patrols around our university and medical campuses.
We fully support this legislative effort as the start of a comprehensive process that must and will include extensive consultations with faculty, students, and staff across Johns Hopkins' university and medical campuses in Baltimore, as well as with our neighbors and with leaders at the community, city, and state levels. We see this as a critical opportunity not only to strengthen public safety in and around our campuses but also to build a model university police department that focuses specifically on the needs of our community and reflects contemporary best practices at universities with academic medical centers. We expect the department to uphold in every way the core values of our institution, including a deep respect for freedom of expression, a meaningful connection to our neighbors, an unwavering commitment to equity and inclusion, and a promise of transparency and accountability.
Importantly, any university police department at Johns Hopkins would not replace our current public safety and security operations. Rather, university police officers would become part of our existing integrated security structure, serving in a complementary role to the employed and contract security teams serving on and around Johns Hopkins' university and medical campuses in Baltimore today. This kind of focused, highly trained, and multilayered security model has proved effective at urban peer universities, and we believe it could be of great benefit to the Johns Hopkins community.
We will keep you apprised as this important security proposal progresses. Please check the Campus Safety and Security website for more information and for upcoming opportunities to learn about this proposal and offer your valuable input.
Ronald J. Daniels
President, Johns Hopkins University
Paul B. Rothman, M.D.
Dean of the Medical Faculty
CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine