Johns Hopkins releases interim study on improving public safety

December 21, 2018

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, and Neighbors:

As we know, our great city, the place of so much grit, creativity, and achievement, is beset by levels of criminal violence that are profoundly unacceptable. And, across the state of Maryland, active shooters have targeted schools and places of employment with tragic frequency. The risks from criminal violence are real and must be met by us, as a community, with firm resolve.

The most important actions we can take are to support and invest in our city and in our fellow citizens, to address the root causes of crime, create economic and educational opportunity, and improve health outcomes. At Johns Hopkins, we are unwavering in our commitment to this critical priority, and have worked diligently to contribute to job creation, education, and public health.

At the same time, we cannot ignore our responsibility to ensure the safety and security of our communities. We must confront and find new solutions for reducing violent crime.

After nearly a year of careful study and community discussions, it is our firm belief that a small, university-based, community-oriented, and research-backed police department—one that is authorized by the state and accountable to the public and to local government—is essential for Johns Hopkins and would make a significant contribution to the safety of our city and the communities around our campuses.

Today, we are sending to the state Legislature and posting for public comment the Interim Study on Approaches to Improving Public Safety on and around Johns Hopkins University Campuses. This report was requested of us at the close of the last legislative session, and the research and community conversations around it have been enormously valuable. All of us at Johns Hopkins are grateful for the participation of our students, faculty, staff, neighbors, and elected officials.

The Interim Study provides a comprehensive overview of the security gap we are experiencing and an analysis of prospective solutions. It details more than 125 meetings and events we have held with the community and key stakeholders; summarizes research on policing; provides data on violent crime on and around the Johns Hopkins campuses; and describes four security options, including simply hiring private armed guards to protect our campuses—a step that requires no additional state or local approvals, but also offers insufficient public accountability.

Based on this research and community input, the Interim Study recommends the creation of a university-based police department of approximately 100 officers (over three to five years) to replace the armed off-duty Baltimore City police officers and sheriff’s deputies who are currently working as a part of the Johns Hopkins security operation. Importantly, the report also sets forth and commits Johns Hopkins to best practices in constitutional, community-oriented policing and to recommendations that match the requirements of the Baltimore consent decree and incorporate learnings and feedback from the Baltimore community.

In making these commitments, we recognize the legitimate and deeply held concerns, particularly from our students and faculty of color and in the LGBTQ community, about bias and injustice in policing. We take our obligation to prevent and address these wrongs extremely seriously and know that they require systemic adoption of best practices, meaningful public accountability, shared community and university oversight, and ongoing open dialogue. We hear loud and clear from you that trust is a critical part of public safety and must be built and sustained with intention.

The next step for us will be to turn the findings and recommendations of the Interim Study into draft legislation for consideration in the upcoming Maryland General Assembly. We hope you will take time to review the report and provide your feedback. We will continue to post information and materials on our website throughout the legislative process, and we will host additional opportunities for community discussion and meetings.

Thank you again for your engagement in this important effort. We look forward to working with you in the months ahead.

Ronald J. Daniels
President, Johns Hopkins University

Paul B. Rothman
Dean of the Medical Faculty
CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine