Proposed Jurisdictions and Crime Data

Recent Studies

University leaders have cited the two studies below at recent forums.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Johns Hopkins considering establishing a university police department?

The safety of our campus communities — including students, faculty, staff, patients, guests, and neighbors — remains a top priority for Johns Hopkins. We see this as a critical opportunity to build a model university police department that responds to the specific needs of our community, reflects contemporary best practices in community policing, and upholds 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. 

In recent years, the university has significantly increased its investment in traditional security measures, including increases in personnel, lighting, cameras, and collaboration with community groups to reduce the risk of crime. At the same time, however, we have experienced a notable uptick in the severity and frequency of crime around our campuses, particularly since 2015. In our Homewood patrol area, the number of serious crimes nearly doubled from 2015 to 2016, from 32 to 60 incidents, followed by 54 incidents in 2017. Around our East Baltimore campus, such crimes increased 40 percent from 2015 to 2016, from 55 to 77 incidents, and remained high at 69 incidents in 2017.

Given these trends, and following a particularly challenging fall, we determined that it was prudent to undertake a comprehensive and rigorous assessment of our security approach to ensure that we were doing all that we could to protect the community.  This assessment was informed by peer benchmarking, by visits and consultations with universities in our city and across the country, and by the expert advice of outside specialists.  We learned that our current security structure is now out of step with urban peers in Baltimore and nationally in that nearly all have university police departments. Consistently, we were told that university police can act as a stronger and more visible deterrent to local street crime; provide a faster and more effective response to an active shooter threat, in coordination with city, state, and federal law enforcement partners; and, most importantly for us, focus on – and meet – the specific needs of a university community.

Those findings led us to support the idea of establishing a police department as a critical component of a multilayered security and safety program.

What would a university police department look like? Would it be part of the Baltimore Police Department?

A Johns Hopkins University police department would be a separate police department within the larger Johns Hopkins safety and security operation and would coordinate with BPD as we do today. Police officers would be highly trained employees of Johns Hopkins, subject to all of our policies and procedures, and would adhere to our core values. These values include supporting freedom of expression, connecting with and welcoming our neighbors, promoting equity and inclusion, and being transparent and accountable.

University police officers would be a component of our overall security and safety program; the majority of the force will remain unarmed security officers, patrolling the streets and the campuses as they do now. Our intention is to work deliberately in the development of specific university police department policies, protocols and hiring practices, and to leverage the insight and best practices learned from our peers.

We also would follow the best practice of community-based policing, which is rooted in collaboration between the police and the community – in this instance, the Johns Hopkins community and surrounding neighbors – to identify and solve community problems.

How would you ensure the accountability and transparency of a Johns Hopkins police department within the community?

We are wholly committed to establishing a police department that is accountable and transparent, in accordance with all constitutional and statutory responsibilities that are imposed on police officers operating in the state of Maryland and with Johns Hopkins’ core values.  Our decision to request to operate a university police department was not taken lightly, and we understand the exacting standards and expectations that accompany this request. We know that transparency and accountability will be vital to assuring our community that we are meeting their expectations.  To do this, some of our peers have formed advisory boards that comprise faculty, staff, students, or other stakeholders. Some peers conduct community surveys, post annual reports and data, and offer an anonymous feedback or complaint hotline, all of which contribute to a meaningful partnership between the police department and the community and individuals it serves. We will work closely with our community to determine the most effective model for a Johns Hopkins University police department.

What is the process for a university decision to establish a police department and how long would it take to do so?

The Maryland General Assembly would need to pass a bill to authorize a private higher education institution in the City of Baltimore, including Johns Hopkins, to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the mayor or police commissioner to establish a university police department.  This legislation tracks legislation that has conferred police powers on our city peers – University of Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore; Coppin State; and Morgan State.

Since the filing of this bill, we have received comments from hundreds of members of our community through online feedback, one-on-one phone calls, meetings with individual groups, larger forums, and interactions with neighbors, local leaders and associations in the communities around our campuses.   Should a bill be signed into law and we enter into an MOU process with the city (following consultation with state police officials), we are committed to continuing these conversations with our university community, our neighbors and other stakeholders.

We anticipate that this process will take several months, as we carefully consider and work through issues such as the specific size, scope, training, jurisdiction and capabilities of a university police department through an MOU with the city. When we finalize this MOU, we would begin the steps of standing up a police department, starting with the recruitment, hiring, and training of officers to work in a university setting, in accordance with the needs, requirements and core values of our campus communities.

How can neighbors, community groups and other stakeholders have input in this process?

We have been reaching out to many neighborhood associations and community leaders – including a number of groups with which we regularly communicate and partner on issues such as public safety – to ensure they are aware of the proposal and listen to their feedback. We also welcome comments from neighbors and community members online through the university’s campus security site (comments that can be anonymous if preferred). We are also hosting and participating in a series of information-sharing sessions across our university and medical campuses in Baltimore. We would continue this important dialogue after a bill is enacted and during the development of the MOU. For more information, visit our campus security site.

Would university police officers be armed?

University police officers would be trained and certified to carry firearms as needed in the course of their duties, but the majority of our overall security force would remain unarmed.

Importantly, the effort to establish a university police department at Johns Hopkins is not only about firearms. We already deploy armed Baltimore police officers and local sheriff’s deputies, working off-duty or overtime shifts, as part of our multi-layered public safety operation. A university police department, however, would bring additional capabilities to our public safety efforts. It would allow us to build a force that is specially trained for and focused on the specific needs of a university community, provide stronger and more visible deterrence to street crime, and respond more quickly and effectively to an active shooter threat, all in coordination with city, state and federal law enforcement partners.

In addition, Johns Hopkins takes the issue of firearms and other weapons on our university and medical campuses very seriously. Possession of a firearm is strictly prohibited on our university and medical premises – a policy that also extends to those who may have a government-issued permit or license to carry a firearm. The only exceptions permitted under this policy are for law enforcement officers and for people acting under the authority of the vice president for security.

Is the university considering this change due to a lack of faith in the BPD?

No. Our collaboration with the BPD has been and remains a close and effective one. The mayor and police commissioner have a multi-year plan to change the trajectory of crime in Baltimore, and have made it clear that they need major institutions in the city, like Johns Hopkins, to be a part of that effort, particularly because the BPD is operating in such a demanding environment. Any future police department at Johns Hopkins would be a stand-alone university police department, overseen by Johns Hopkins. Such a department would not replace or be an extension of the BPD. Rather, university police officers would complement the efforts of the BPD in and around our university and medical campuses in Baltimore – in line with the role that university police officers at peer institutions play in their home cities.

How would you prevent the racial profiling that other universities have been criticized for and how would you address any officer misconduct?

Racial and ethnic profiling in security and law enforcement at Johns Hopkins or elsewhere is wholly unacceptable. We unequivocally believe that safety and security go hand–in-hand with respect for civil rights and civil liberties and would hold our officers accountable to that standard.

We currently train our officers to understand and support the importance of cultural, racial, religious, disability and LGBTQ diversity on our campuses. For a future Johns Hopkins University police department, we would provide significant additional training focused on the core values of our institution: free expression, diversity, equity, inclusion, transparency, and accountability. We would also ensure officers are trained in mental health issues, conflict management, problem solving, community policing, and de-escalation. This is training in addition to that required at a state-accredited police academy. We are additionally committed to meeting the comprehensive standards required for accreditation through an agency such as the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).

A Johns Hopkins University police department would take significant steps to ensure fair and impartial policing and would act promptly to address concerns and complaints. Specific processes would be determined through the MOU process, but we would expect to develop protocols similar to those used at peer universities. We have found that many peer universities handle routine matters (such as tardiness or complaints of discourtesy) internally. They refer more significant issues (such as criminal allegations or situations involving the use of firearms) to outside investigatory entities at the city or state level.

Another element critical to ensuring adherence to our core values is the hiring process. The careful recruitment of police officers will be critical to our success in building a model university police department.

What kind of training would university police officers receive on diversity, community policing, and related issues?

Our current campus security personnel are trained professionals, and many have received training from accredited law enforcement academies. We currently train our officers to understand and support the importance of cultural, racial, religious, disability and LGBTQ diversity on our campuses. For a future Johns Hopkins police department, we would provide significant additional training focused on the core values of our institution: free expression, diversity, equity, inclusion, transparency, and accountability.  We would also ensure officers were trained in mental health issues, conflict management, problem solving, community policing, and de-escalation, and fully understood the importance of fair and impartial policing to prevent racial profiling. This is training in addition to that required at a state-accredited police academy.

Would university police officers ask people in and or around the university and medical campuses about their immigration status or conduct immigration enforcement actions?

Johns Hopkins University does not provide information about the immigration status of members of our community unless required by law. Similarly, our safety and security officers do not request information regarding citizenship or enforce federal immigration laws without a specific court order. This longstanding policy would extend to university police officers.

What would the patrol boundaries for the new police department be? 

Patrol boundaries would be developed in the MOU with the city and in consultation with our community and neighbors. We would envision any patrol zone for a university police department to be similar to the existing patrol zones for our current security operation in and around our Baltimore campuses. In these areas, a university police department would have overlapping jurisdiction with the BPD, as is common practice for other university police departments in Baltimore and across the country.

What would it cost to create a new university police department? Will tuition go up as a result?

Johns Hopkins currently invests significant resources in our security operations, including very substantial increases since 2015. We also regularly rely on surge staffing to meet our security needs — at significant additional expense due to overtime pay and other factors. Our intention would be to leverage these substantial resources and potential savings to cover the costs of establishing, maintaining, and training a university police department.

Will a university police department change how Johns Hopkins handles student conduct discipline, free speech on campus, and related issues?

Establishing a university police department would not change our student conduct policies. Our goal is not to criminalize activity that can be and currently is addressed through other means. For example, policies that protect free expression and the amnesty provision (intended to encourage students to seek necessary medical attention or assistance for themselves or others in need) would remain in effect.

Our main priority is and will always be the safety and wellbeing of our campus communities.  Our expectation is that university police officers – like our current security personnel – would be trained and empowered to exercise good judgment, in accordance with our institution’s core values and with our priority of safety and well-being in mind.

Will a university police department be trained in how to handle incidents involving sexual assault?

Yes. Johns Hopkins University is committed to supporting victims of sexual assault, and we work to investigate and resolve complaints promptly, fairly, equitably, impartially, and in compliance with the law and our own Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures

All faculty and staff are given specific training around these issues, and that training would be required for members of a university police department as well. The person who experiences a sexual assault generally decides whether and where to report the incident, including whether to report to the Office of Institutional Equity and/or to law enforcement. We would expect that a person who chooses to report to OIE and/or a future university police department would maintain that same agency over the complaint, including over if and where to file a claim.

Johns Hopkins University wants to create a safe and supportive environment for each and every member of our community. If you have been a victim of sexual violence, we urge you to reach out for emotional support and medical care. We stand ready to assist individuals with complaints, whether reported to Johns Hopkins University and/or to law enforcement. Our students can call the Sexual Assault Helpline (410-516-7333), a confidential service of the Johns Hopkins University Counseling Center that is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with trained professional counselors who can offer support, provide resources or answer questions. There are also additional emotional support and counseling services available to our community through the Counseling Center, the Student Assistance Program, and the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.

Would persons interacting with the Johns Hopkins Police Department be given the same constitutional protections as those interacting with the Baltimore Police Department?

Yes. If delegated full police powers by the General Assembly, JHU police officers would be subject to all federal and state constitutional protections and limitations. This fact, recently confirmed by a Letter of Advice from the Office of the Maryland Attorney General, means individuals who come into contact with JHU police officers would receive the same constitutional protections against deprivation of the rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution, including rights pertaining to search and seizure, arrest, Miranda, and equal protection. Our clear goal will be to provide our police officers with outstanding training that prevents any encounter from resulting in a deprivation of rights.  But if that were to happen, citizens would have recourse under the law.