MERT Ceremony 2

Philadelphia police officers Shaun Nash (left) and Ray Brook with Captain Greg Riley at the DPS Commendation Ceremony.

Credit: James Meadows

Johns Hopkins University is rethinking how it approaches campus security, and is looking to Penn for ideas. After 16 gunpoint robberies struck the campus last fall, JHU President Ron Daniels embarked on an effort to tighten the University's security measures. As research, he visited Penn, USC, and the University of Chicago, all of which have their own police departments.

After an extensive study of Penn's police force, JHU came to the conclusion that "extra police provided by the university generated approximately 45-60 percent fewer crimes in adjacent city blocks."

Penn Police are the largest private police force in Pennsylvania. The force contains 117 sworn officers, who hold themselves responsible for enhancing the quality of life, safety and security of the Penn community.

This number is large not only within the state of Pennsylvania, but also within the Ivy League. Following Penn, Yale University has the second largest number of sworn officers, tallying 89 in total. 

After visiting other campuses, Daniels said he found that JHU was “dramatically out of step with our peers” in regards to campus security. Daniels has also began pushing for legislation that would allow the University to create its own private police force. If successful, Daniels would make JHU the first private university in Maryland to have its own police force, The Baltimore Sun reported

Students and faculty convened at a recent forum to discuss this proposal.

Many were concerned with “how a new police force would affect area residents, many of whom already view the institution with suspicion,” The Sun reported. Like other urban universities, JHU has often been criticized for its tenuous relationship with its community. 

These concerns were acknowledged by lawmakers, who decided this morning not to endorse the bill, citing the argument that the University failed to gain the support needed to implement such drastic change.

Though the bill has been shelved for now, it has not been thrown out entirely. Officials say that the bill will be studied and explored this summer and fall, in order to get a better idea of how such a system would operate.

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