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Baltimore Police Commissioner signs operating pact with Johns Hopkins for its private police force

Maryland hospitals, including Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, are part of a payment experiment that provides new incentives to keep people in good health.
Patrick Semansky
Around the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore campus, officials said the community is affected routinely by assaults, robberies and even murders.

Johns Hopkins University has finalized a memorandum of agreement with the Baltimore City Police Department, the university shared on Friday afternoon. The operating pact comes after several months of public comment often disrupted by protests at the university. It’s the latest step in the process of creating a campus police force that Johns Hopkins University officials and other supporters contend is needed to bolster safety around the university community.

The agreement required under state law was reached over the staunch objections of some faculty, students and neighbors.

It was signed by the city’s police commissioner Michael Harrison and Johns Hopkins University’s vice president for public safety Branville Bard.

The plan for a private armed police force on its three campuses was put on hold for two years after unrest following the 2020 death of Minnesota man George Floyd who died in police custody. The university can now begin formulating policies and procedures to establish the agency.

Its goal is to have police on its three campuses which includes Homewood just north of downtown, Peabody in midtown Baltimore and the East Baltimore hub where its medical school and hospital sits by next fall.

Bard previously told WYPR that campus security guards are not enough and the school is missing a “vital component” to respond to violence on campus grounds.

“Violence impacts us all too frequently and everybody deserves to feel safe,” Bard said in September.

The new private police department would augment Baltimore Police Department ranks and doesn’t plan to fill in when the city needs help, he said.

“It’s about us having dedicated resources, not to fill in where the city can’t. We realize we’ll experience benefits to having our own police department,” he said.

Once in operation next year, the Johns Hopkins Police Department is required to report traffic enforcement data to the Baltimore Police Department in addition to crime, according to the operating agreement.

Kristen Mosbrucker is a digital news editor and producer for WYPR. @k_mosbrucker
Danyell Irby is the Executive Director of news
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