Johns Hopkins University has issued a warning to students and staff that they’re amping up security around its Baltimore, Maryland, campuses after seeing an uptick in “disturbing” and “serious” violent crime incidents.
In an Oct. 29 letter to the university’s community, vice president for public safety Branville G. Bard said that the uptick was notable over the past several months as he detailed two out of six armed robberies—two of which were abductions or abduction attempts—that occurred in the month of October alone.
Bard said that one of those “brazen and disturbing incidents” happened late on Oct. 24 and involved a Johns Hopkins community member who was walking within the Homewood campus area when “three assailants armed with handguns” forced the member into their vehicle and drove to “multiple ATMs,” demanding the affiliate “to make cash withdrawals” before releasing the victim.
Another incident happened on Oct. 27 at 11:10 a.m. The spouse of a community member was walking on the footbridge on the Homewood campus that morning when two people, one armed with a handgun, “demanded the victim’s cell phone and password,” Bard said.
“These acts of violence tear at the fabric of our community, and the university is working to support the victims, increase our public safety presence in the area, and assist the Baltimore Police Department in its investigations, which are ongoing,” Bard wrote in the letter.
The institution has urged community members to review its public safety website and also released a map of where each of the recent incidents took place.
“We are taking this situation very seriously, and continuing our efforts to obtain as much information as possible on the recent surge of robbery incidents,” Bard wrote in the letter. “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.”
Additionally, the school also “immediately” adjusted its public safety deployment in order to “provide an increased presence and focus on locations most impacted” by aforementioned incidents, Bard said, adding that community members should expect an increased police presence on and around campus.
Bard also noted that Johns Hopkins is continuing to work toward creating “the Johns Hopkins Police Department (JHPD), a small, community-oriented police department that will operate on the Homewood, Peabody, and East Baltimore campuses.”
“The effects of violence ripple far beyond those who are immediately victimized, and we urge anyone who is experiencing trauma related to this or any other incident to take advantage of our well-being resources for students and Johns Hopkins Employee Assistance Program (JHEAP) for university and medicine faculty and staff,” Bard said, concluding the letter.
Johns Hopkins is a research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, that was founded in 1876. It is the oldest research university in the United States and the Western Hemisphere.
The number of violent crimes has soared across the United States this year and is set to return to pre-pandemic levels. The increase has also been apparent in Baltimore, which has seen a spike in homicides and robberies.
According to a midyear comparison survey (pdf) from the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), Baltimore saw 179 homicides in the first six months of 2022 compared to 164 in the same period last year.
Robberies and aggravated assault incidents have all increased in the city, while rapes saw a slight decline, the survey shows.