BALTIMORE (AP) — As Baltimore's embattled police force faces understaffing amid high crime, one of the country's top private universities is seeking authorization to create its own police department.

The Baltimore Sun reports Johns Hopkins University is advocating state legislation allowing it to maintain a police force on and near its campuses, which private institutions currently can't do under Maryland law. Several public universities have their own forces.

The bill is sponsored by Baltimore Democrat Sen. Joan Carter Conway. It has the backing of other Baltimore lawmakers, who say it will increase safety in the city without costing taxpayers.

The university currently has a security force that lacks police powers. University officials pointed out in a message Monday that Hopkins is unusual among peer institutions for its lack of a police force.

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Information from: The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.com