I’ve always believed that everyone should try their hardest at their job. Whether it is being the President of the United States or cleaning bathrooms at CVS, which is a field that I am sadly very experienced in, people should take pride in doing their jobs right and in doing them well. I don’t think the Campus Safety and Security staff subscribe to this same belief.
According to the Hopkins Safety and Security website, in the past month, there have been 12 cases of theft and two armed robberies, and this is only a small fraction of the categories mentioned on the site’s spreadsheet. What is at the heart of this issue? The incompetence of the security officers colloquially known as “Hop Cops.” Over 200 of these security personnel are meant to keep students safe. The Hopkins security website states that this force receives “specialized training in cultural diversity, sexual harassment, hate crimes, AED/first aid, community policing, and crime prevention.”
I have been able to see the fruits of this intensive training firsthand over the past couple of months. In September, I personally witnessed a male and a female attempting to break a window to get into an apartment while a Hop Cop looked on from across the street. Although the Hop Cop was staring directly at the situation and seemed to register what was happening, he did not seem to care.
Instead of checking in on the situation or calling for help, he proceeded to use the training he had been given to do nothing and stare off into space. While the situation may very well have been a couple trying to get back into their apartment that they had just been locked out of, the Hop Cop should have, at the very least, checked in on the situation.
This Hop Cop did not need increased training to improve his abilities. He needed to be more vigilant. Once he saw the couple trying to break the window, he should have walked over to ask them what the problem was. Or, if he was too nervous to do this himself, he could have called for backup from another Hop Cop.
A couple of weeks later, I overheard a conversation between a Hop Cop and what seemed to be his immediate superior while walking into Charles Commons. In response to his supervisor asking him if he could “handle the situation,” the Hop Cop responded in a wavering tone, “I’m not sure.”
A few weeks after that, I heard that a couple of people that I knew had been robbed at gunpoint in the middle of the Hopkins security zone. According to them, a Hop Cop patrolling in a car drove by and slowed down as a man held a gun at them and demanded all of their belongings.
It seemed as if the Hop Cop could tell that something was wrong but drove by and did not proceed to take any action on the issue. While no one expects a Hop Cop to jump out of their patrol car and fight someone with a gun, minimal action could have been taken. The crime should have been reported by the Hop Cop, and they should have checked in on the victims to ensure their wellbeing.
There are some simple solutions to make the campus slightly safer for its residents. Students can be more careful of their surroundings, walk with friends, not be out too late at night, etc. But these do not get at the core of the issue — the Hop Cops need to be better. Their sole priority is the safety and security of the campus, and far too often, they fail at upholding their own standards.
President Daniels emailed the Hopkins community a couple weeks ago discussing the steps being taken within the administration regarding campus safety. He emphasized adding security personnel and expanding the security zone, in addition to receiving more help from the Baltimore Police Department. Although this will help make us and our parents feel better about our safety, it will not improve the competence of Hop Cops.
To improve performance and ensure a higher level of safety, Hop Cops must be on high alert. A simple solution, paying attention, is the best way to increase the security of students and faculty. In conjunction with good training, keeping their eyes open and their heads up will keep the campus safer than ever.
Change must start at the bottom. It is the Hop Cop’s job to work hard to keep us safe. If they decide to continue to do their job inadequately, the Hopkins security website’s crime spreadsheet will overfill with reports of robberies and thefts. Regardless of what the administration does, the Hop Cops must be held accountable.
Samuel Sklarin is a sophomore International Studies major from San Francisco, Calif.