Johns Hopkins University is requesting permission from Maryland lawmakers to create its own private police force. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) sent a letter to the school’s president raising a number of concerns with the proposal, including that the plan lacks sufficient accountability measures and threatens to exacerbate already strained relations between Baltimore residents and law enforcement.
LDF’s letter offers support for Johns Hopkins’s desire to maintain a safe environment for its students, faculty, and staff, but suggests that the current proposal would be counterproductive to that goal. LDF urges that, if Johns Hopkins goes forward with establishing a police force, the new police agency be bound by the federal consent decree designed to reform the Baltimore Police Department. The letter cites the tragic shooting of Samuel Dubose at the hands of the University of Cincinnati Police Department, which was not included in the federal settlement agreement to reform the Cincinnati Police Department and therefore not subject to the same training and accountability requirements. As LDF notes, “Neither the safety of [Johns Hopkins] students nor the outside community is served by a private campus police department that is less transparent and less accountable than the city police department, or by a police force that is not part of the ongoing collaborative effort to reform policing practices and improve community-police relations throughout the city.”
Read the full letter here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.