Johns Hopkins University wants to form its own police department with armed, sworn police officers to patrol its university and hospital campuses. The University already has its own security personnel, approximately 1,000 strong. Even so, last Fall there were 16 gunpoint robberies around its main campus in Baltimore.
Thus, the Baltimore delegation to the state general assembly will propose legislation to enable Hopkins to have its own police department. The plan has the support of Baltimore’s police chief and its mayor.
Activists and some local politicians are wary of the idea, though. So, apparently is the Washington Post. Reporters Ian Duncan and Talia Richman write darkly about “a new force of uniformed, armed and sworn officers controlled by an institution with a historically troubled relationship with Baltimore’s African American community, at a time when policing in Baltimore is under federal scrutiny.”
As far as I can tell, the “historically troubled relationship” refers to unhappiness with practices of the University’s hospital. Most of the events that gave rise to the unhappiness are ancient, none is current, and none appears to have anything to do with policing. They form no valid basis for preventing Hopkins from protecting students and staff, via a police force, from armed robbery and other crimes.
The fact that the Baltimore police department is under federal scrutiny is relevant, but not in the way the Post suggests. The attack on Baltimore police officers that began with Freddy Gray’s death and produced a deeply flawed report by the Obama Justice Department is a major reason why violent crime has soared, and thus why Hopkins needs its own police force.
Baltimore’s police force is about 1,000 officers short of what it needs to effectively police the city, according to the mayor. As we noted two years ago, this problem stems to a considerable degree from the demonizing of the police after Gray’s death, which demoralized officers and caused them to seek work elsewhere.
It isn’t just Johns Hopkins that has responded by looking beyond the government to meet its security needs. According to the Post, “several communities are turning to private guards to supplement [the] police department.”
This is the legacy of the pandering by local politicians and the Obama Justice Department to the Black Lives Matter movement following Gray’s death: violent crime at record highs and private communities and institutions scrambling to form their own policing forces to cope.