The administration detailed their plans to improve public safety measures in light of recent incidents around campus in an email to the student body on Oct. 29. The email stated that there have been six reported armed robberies on or around the Homewood Campus and one near the Peabody Institute from Oct. 6 to Oct. 27. Two of the robberies included abductions or attempted abductions.
This past week, an affiliate was the victim of an armed robbery and abduction on Oct. 24 at the 100 block of West University Parkway and a non-affiliate was the victim of an armed robbery on Oct. 27 at the 3300 block of San Martin Drive.
In the email, Vice President of Public Safety Branville Bard Jr. emphasized that Hopkins prioritizes the student body’s safety. He outlined the University’s efforts to collect more information on these incidents.
“This includes reviewing security camera footage, interviewing potential witnesses, and participating in daily meetings and intelligence-sharing with Baltimore City Police Department detectives and senior leadership,“ he wrote. “University officials have also been in close contact with the victims of all of these incidents to support their physical and mental well-being.”
In an interview with The News-Letter, sophomore Christine Kim commented on the recent robberies.
“This is what a lot of people feared before they came into Hopkins because Baltimore has a reputation for being kind of sketchy,” she said. “I feel like [during] my freshman year it wasn’t as bad.”
The email broadcast described the University’s public safety measures, which include more availability of public safety escorts and an increased presence of Johns Hopkins Public Safety, Baltimore City Police and Allied Universal officers on or around campus.
In the email, Bard also reminded students that they can use the LiveSafe application to connect with the University’s dispatch center and report crime tips anonymously.
Senior Director of Public Safety Jarron Jackson noted that the uptick in crimes around Hopkins campuses coincides with an increase in crime throughout Baltimore city in an interview with The News-Letter. He named some measures students can take to keep themselves safe.
“Plan your route. Travel in groups,” he said. “You can even have someone watch you while you walk. You can also request a vehicle or walking escort… awareness is one of the key factors in prevention.”
In an interview with The News-Letter, junior Harrison Rosenblum highlighted how the recent incidents have made him more proactive about safety.
“While the rise in these kinds of incidents is concerning, they’re things that happen in Baltimore and... it definitely reinforces the importance of being safe when you commute [and] traveling in groups, but even that doesn’t make you safe every time,” he said.
The email added that the University will continue to move forward with the implementation of the Johns Hopkins Police Department (JHPD), a private police force that will operate on the Homewood, Peabody and East Baltimore campuses.
Freshman Rachel Baffoe-Bonnie expressed concerns about the JHPD’s implementation in an interview with The News-Letter.
“I’m not a big fan of the private police force that could come to Hopkins,” she said. “I feel like in the end, it’s probably going to most likely target BIPOC students and… have a major impact on the surrounding areas.”
Baffoe-Bonnie added that she finds the University’s plans for the JHPD contradictory to other Hopkins initiatives meant to increase its positive presence and impact within the Baltimore community.
In an interview with The News-Letter, freshman Arshana Welivita discussed her disapproval about the JHPD.
“I do not support the idea of having a private police [force] on campus,” she said. “We’re sort of segregating ourselves more from the [Baltimore community].”
Jackson responded to student concerns about the JHPD’s implementation.
“The continued implementation of the JHPD is just a small portion of overarching public safety initiatives,” he said. “Policing alone is not going to solve the problem. It’s a holistic approach and that’s what Hopkins is doing.”
Aashi Mendpara contributed reporting to this article.
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