I love being a police officer, but we need reform | Melvin Russell


I have been a police officer
for a very, very long time. And you see these notes in my hand
because I’m also a black preacher. (Laughter) And if you know anything
about black preachers, we’ll close, and then we’ll keep
going for another 20 minutes. (Laughter) So I need this to keep
pushing this thing forward. I’ve been a police officer
for a very long time, and I mean I predated technology. I’m talking about before pagers. (Laughter) Laugh if you want to,
but I’m telling the truth. I predate War on Our Fellow Man —
I mean, War on Drugs. I predate all of that. I predate so much and I’ve been through ebbs and flows and I’ve been through good and bad times, and still I absolutely love
being a police officer. I love being a police officer
because it’s always been a calling for me and never a job. And even with that, my personal truth is that
law enforcement is in a crisis. It’s an invisible crisis, and it has been for many, many years. Even though we in law enforcement say, “You know what?
We can’t arrest our way out of this.” We say in law enforcement things like, “Yeah, it’s illegal to profile.” You know what? In law enforcement, we even agree
that we have to adopt this thinking and become more oriented
to community policing. And yet all the while, still, we continue in the same vein, the same vein that contradicts
everything that we just admitted. And so that’s the reason for me,
several years ago. Because I was tired of the racism,
I was tired of discrimination, I was tired of the “-isms”
and the schisms. I was just so tired. I was tired of the vicious cycle, and I was tired of it even
in the beloved agency in the department that I still love today. And so my wife and I, we sat down and we decided and we targeted
a date that we would retire. We would retire and I would
go off into the sunset, maybe do ministry full time,
love my wife a long time. Y’all know what I’m talking about. (Laughter) But we decided that I would retire. But then there was a higher power than I. There was a love for the city that I loved, that I grew up in,
that I was educated in — a city that pulled my heart
back into the system. So we didn’t retire. We didn’t retire and so what happened was, over the next — I would say,
18 months, 19 months, I had this passion to implement
some radical policing. And so now, over the next 19 months, I shifted, and I transcended
from being a drug sergeant — ready to retire as a drug sergeant — and went from level to level to level, until I find myself
as a district commander, commander of the worst district
in Baltimore city. We call it the Eastern District, the most violent district, the most impoverished district — 46 percent unemployment in that district. National rating at that time, national rating, the AIDS
and the tuberculosis [rating], was always on the top 10 list for zip codes for cities
across the nation, or just zip codes across the nation. The top 10 — I didn’t say state,
I didn’t say city — that little neighborhood. And I said, you know what?
We gotta do something different. We gotta do something different.
We gotta think radical. We gotta think outside the box. And so in order to bring change
that I desperately wanted and I desperately felt in my heart, I had to start listening
to that inner spirit. I had to start listening
to that man on the inside that went against everything
that I had been trained to do. But we still did it. We still did it because we listened
to that inner spirit, because I realized this: if I was to see real police reform in the communities that I had
authority over for public safety, we had to change our stinkin’ thinkin’. We had to change it. And so what we did
is we started to think holistically and not paramilitarily. So we thought differently. And we started to realize that it could never be
and never should have been us versus them. And so I decided to come
to that intersection where I could meet all classes,
all races, all creeds, all colors; where I would meet the businesses
and the faith-based, and the eds, the meds, and I would meet all the people that made up the communities
that I had authority over. So I met them and I began to listen. See, police have a problem. Off the top, we want to bring
things into the community and come up with these extravagant
strategies and deployments, but we never talk
to the community about them. And we shove them into the community
and say, “Take that.” But we said we’d get rid
of that stinkin’ thinkin’, so we talked to our communities. We said, “This is your community table. We’ll pull up a chair.
We want to hear from you. What’s going to work in your community?” And then some great things
started to happen. See, here’s the thing: I had to figure out a way to shift
130 cops that were under my tutelage from being occupiers of communities to being partners. I had to figure out how to do that. Because here’s the crazy thing: in law enforcement, we have evolved
into something incredible. Listen, we have become great protectors. We know how to protect you. But we have exercised that arm
so much, so very much. If I was a natural police department and I represented a police department, you would see this incredible,
beautiful, 23-inch arm. (Laughter) It’s pretty, ain’t it? It’s cut up. No fat on it. Mmm it look good.
It just look good! (Laughter) That’s a great arm — protection! That’s who we are, but we’ve exercised
it so much sometimes that it has led to abuse. It’s led to coldness and callousness
and dehumanized us. And we’ve forgotten the mantra across this nation is to protect and serve. Y’all don’t know that? Protect and serve. (Laughter) So you look at the other arm, and then you look at it
and … there it is. (Laughter) You know, it’s kinda weak. It looks sickly. It’s withering and it’s dying because we’ve invested so much
in our protective arm. But we forgot to treat our communities like they’re our customers; like they’re our sons and daughters,
our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers. And so somehow, along the way, we’ve gotten out of balance. And because we are a proud profession, it is very hard for us to look
in the mirror and see our mistakes. It’s even harder to make a change. And so, as I try to hurry
and get through this, I need to say this: it’s not just law enforcement, though. Because every one of us
makes up a community. Everybody makes up a community. And as communities — can I say this? — we have put too much responsibility
on law enforcement. Too much. (Applause) And then we have the audacity
and the nerve to get upset with law enforcement
when we take action. There is no way in the world that we, as a community,
should be calling the police for kids playing ball in the street. No way in the world that we
should be calling the police because my neighbor’s
music is up too loud, because his dog came over
to my yard and did a number two; there’s no way we should
be calling the police. But we have surrendered
so much of our responsibility. Listen, when I was a little boy
coming up in Baltimore — and listen, we played
rough in the street — I ain’t never see the police
come and break us up. You know who came? It was the elders. It was the parental figures
in the community. It was those guardians,
it was that village mentality. They came and said, “Stop that!”
and “Do this.” and “Stop that.” We had mentors throughout
all of the community. So it takes all of us, all of us. And when I say community, I’m talking about everything
that makes up a community, even — listen, because I’m a preacher,
I’m very hard on the churches, because I believe the churches
too often have become MIA, missing in action. I believe they have shifted
over the last 10, 20 years from being community churches, where you walk outside your door,
round the corner and you’re in church. They shifted from that and became
commuter churches. So you now have churches who have
become disconnected by default from the very community
where they’re planted. And they don’t take care
of that community. I could go on and on,
but I really need to wrap this up. Community and policing: we’ve all lost that precious gift,
and I call it relational equity. We’ve lost it with one another. It’s not somebody else’s fault — it’s all of our fault. We all take responsibility in this. But I say this: it’s not too late
for all of us to build our cities and nation to make it great again. It is never too late. It is never too late. You see, after three years of my four-and-a-half-year
commandship in that district, three years in, after putting pastors
in the car with my police because I knew this —
it’s a little secret — I knew this: it was hard to stay a nasty police officer while you’re riding around
with a clergy. (Laughter) (Applause) You’d be getting in and out of the car,
looking to your right, talking about: “Father, forgive me, for I have sinned,”
all day long — you can’t do it! So we came up with some
incredible initiatives, engagements for our community
and police to build that trust back. We began to deal with our youth and with those who we consider
are on the wrong side of the fence. We knew we had an economic problem, so we began to create jobs. We knew there was sickness
in our community and they didn’t have access
to proper medical care, so we’d partner up. We got to that intersection
and partnered up with anybody that wanted
to partner with us and talked about
what we needed holistically, never thinking about the crime. Because at the end of the day, if we took care
of the needs of the people, if we got to the root cause, the crime would take care of itself. It would take care of itself. (Applause) And so, after three years
of a four-and-a-half-year stint, we looked back and we looked over and found out that we were
at a 40-year historical low: our crime numbers, our homicides — everything had dropped
down, back to the 1970s. And it might go back further, but the problem is, we only
started keeping data since 1970. Forty-year crime low, so much so,
I had other commanders call me, “Hey Mel, whatcha doin’, man? Whatcha doin’? We gotta get some of that!” (Laughter) And so we gave them some of that. And in a short period of time, the city went to a 30-year crime low. For the first time in 30 years,
we fell, Baltimore city, to under 200 homicides — 197 to be exact. And we celebrated, because we had learned
to become great servers, become great servers first. But I gotta tell you this:
these last few years, as much as we had learned to become great proactive police officers and great relational police officers
rather than reactive, these last years have disappointed me. They have broken my heart. The uprising still hurts. It still hurts my heart, because truly I believe
that it should’ve never happened. I believe it should’ve never happened if we were allowed to continue
along the vein that we were in, servicing our community, treating them like human beings,
treating them with respect, loving on them first. If we continued in that vein, it would’ve never happened. But somehow, we went back
to business as usual. But I’m excited again! I’m excited again, because now
we have a police commissioner who not only talks
about community policing, but he absolutely understands it, and more importantly, he embraces it. So I’m very excited now. Listen, I’m excited about Baltimore today, because we, as many cities,
I believe shall rise from the ashes. I believe — I truly believe — (Applause) that we will be great again. I believe, as we continue to wrap arms
and continue to say, “We’re in this together,” because it’s not just an intersection: once we meet, we now gotta get
on the same path for the same goals, and this city will become great again. This nation will become great again. Because we have the same goal:
we all want peace. We all want respect for one another. We all want love. And I believe we are back on that road, and I’m so excited about it. So listen, I thank you for giving me
a few minutes of your time. God bless you all. (Applause) God bless you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “I love being a police officer, but we need reform | Melvin Russell”

  1. Regardless of intentions, all police are doing wrong. Every law, taxes you name it is backed by a death threat. They have to break their own laws to enforce them. Sad to say, but military is included here too. There simply isn't any logical way around it. They do wrong in the name of right. This creates a tremendous amount of suffering in this world. It could be argued that it's the sole cause.

  2. first thing to do is get greed out of the system. no more for profit prisons. no more seizure and forfeit laws. and how about some accountability for a change. even when it is possible to sue, its usually paid for by taxpayers. rediculous

  3. It's a different world now than when he grew up. Bother kids playing in the street now and if they don't kill you, their parents will.

  4. I saw that there is a person translating the speech in sign language, why didn't you filmed her and add her to the footage video, we're all about equality

  5. 0:40 – 0:45 I already like him.

    I hope he's not ahead of his time. This is how to deal with crime effectively. Recidivism doesn't decrease by punishment alone.

  6. If communities want change with their police it needs to start with them as well. It goes both ways. Can't want a police department that treats them fairly if the community doesn't do it to them.

  7. Isn't it kinda hypocritical for a person to be a cop and a preacher!? I mean, he's preaching Thou Shall Not Kill – like a good Christian – but doing a job that clearly endorses public executions for minor infractions?!

  8. End the war on drugs and make the cops police the 2 mile perimeter around their
    own house, so that they actually know the community that they are policing.

    There ya go, it's really not that complicated.

  9. Honorable and inspiring IF not just a political speech on a TED soap box. The skeptic inside wonders, and if it is as claimed, the optimist in hiding is saddened that such profound significance diligently pursued so quickly discarded and dismissed in disuse. An impassioned individual can accomplish great things for short periods, but laziness lacks vision and is far easier to find. Visionary's are needed but are often corrupted and those holding to higher purpose killed. IMO-the realist observing.

  10. Racism is not the problem, Im white, i've been stopped, frisked for no reason, etc. etc. It's called a militarized police force filled with corruption and quotas. Grow up.

  11. I agree 100% with him, and truly hope that the Baltimore situation get fixed asap.

    And this really should be apply all over the world, a community center in each neighbor with all kind activities and free educational courses will boost it greatly AND makes a whole lot safer and just.. happier!

  12. chinese,hk even tw stole the US money at least 20 years .
    then control the media.
    turn USppl into retards.
    blame the law reinforcement .
    basically everything .

  13. Holistic policing is the future and savior of the force. The recruitment process for officers today is one of the biggest problems facing any positive disposition towards police by civilians and rightly so. Police recruitment selects individuals with characteristics that you most likely might also find in an ex-con. Reasoning being is that they're tough enough to handle certain difficult experiences better. Most of these hardened individuals would of course find it difficult in offering that rapport and relation to civilians because they're indefinitely locked in one mode: defense/offense. That one mode is a breeding ground for corruption because someone locked in a mode like that can only see and consider themselves. "Serve and Protect" becomes only a faint directive that fades to the background when on the streets that's only significance is in that they're allowed to carry a firearm and do what they want with little to no consequence. Change the recruitment process and change the force.

  14. This excites me tremendously. The potential growth and stability in a society where such attitudes and customs are adopted, to take the community in rather then separating and punishing… Who knows what might come from this. <3 That we all can be "our brother's keepers", "Good Samaritans" "Love thy neighbor as thyself, and Love your enemies."
    Thanks for sharing.

  15. I agree with everything except for the part where he said we put "too much responsibility" on law enforcement. Uhh we kinda have to???

  16. Nothing's going to be great again, unless you actually hold police officers to the same law as every other citizen. Cops shouldn't be able to shoot anyone they feel threatened by. That just sets up the system for easily justifiable murder. After all, how could you prove that an officer wasn't threatened? And there should be better incentive on whistle blowing for good officers to be able to do the right thing without facing consequences.

  17. Co-operative policing? Serving the public?
    New concepts?

    Perhaps Mr. Russell should visit the "Peelian Principals" from 1829. This is/was Sir Robert Peel's timeless doctrine for the policing of a democratic society.

  18. Of course you fucks love being cops. It's quite a good gig: get to hang around donut shops and eat donuts all day and getting paid for it.

  19. Oh please, this is pro police propaganda! Stop killing black people, and dismantle the institutionalized racism in police departments, and then we can talk! 
    #Blacklivesmatter

  20. "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest of these fears is fear of the unknown." -HP Lovecraft
    Fear is at the root of all these problems. Cops are afraid of the people because they interact almost entirely with the worst people society has to offer. This leads them to not trust the people. The people see the cops' attitude of aloofness and the stories of corruption and mistrust them in turn. Each side is reacting to the other as being outsiders. The only way to break the cycle is for one side to make the choice to trust the other, and since the cops have guns, training, and backup it seems fair that it should be them.

  21. Damn blacks. Damn preachers. They both have the power of the voice on their side. One should not be allowed to combine both.
    Great talk.

  22. I long for the day when we have police who treat the people in their community like they would treat their close relatives. Because every one out there is SOMEONE'S loved one.

  23. The police have proven to us over and over and over again that they can NOT be trusted the police themselves. There nothing but a gang Bullies and thugs. They happily pray the weakest among us. If there were one good police officer how is it possible that we have any bad officers?

  24. Flat top and a preacher. As an ex cop myself I will pass…even if the guy has potential to not be exactly what I thought he would be.

  25. well this sort of goes perfectly with mark passio the great work we he mentions occult symbolism in the police and military uniforms which is an underlying base energy for business as usual. Then i was lucky enough for someone else to link me prometheus rising audiobook in it the mention of lsd as a reform tool for 80% of prisoners. Even if the drug war could be ended and we could change all these things the economic system will always say its profitable to do the wrong thing and as long as that remains the wrong thing will be done

  26. Help this awesome man of God and servant of the people get invited to speak on Ted Talks national forum to speak on stage about his vision for police reform. You can do this by viewing his message in this video on Ted Talks website:
    http://go.ted.com/CSo9. Please leave a comment and rate this video on the link that I provided. God bless you. Shalom!

  27. In india a police chief suggested Yoga and Meditation for his police officers in order to benefit their health and improve their behaivor during stress situations and they got a positive respond from the community : D so it seems to work

  28. Someone needs to inform Melvin that as far as telling neighbors to turn their music down or tell the neighbor kids to get off your property, they respond different than when we did growing up.
    We had some respect for elders but lack of proper parenting since then has produced younger generations that simply don't give a F and sooner spit on you and curse you out than listen.

  29. I truly enjoyed all the comments…both respectful and ugly. Everything from D Raz wondering if it was a Freudian Slip to which Bill keenly read between the lines – the all too often donut comment – the NOT I love the police posts – the Bruh get pants to fit (I had lost 13 pounds from the stress of the uprising within the 1st 2 wks) – Bunny – President – to my absolute favorite from TheAnnoyingGunner D Blacks. D Preachers … I truly appreciate everyone of them as they either propel me to keep pushing for real unity or they drive me to pray harder where I gain more strength to keep pushing. Real peacemakers never quit because it gets rough. For the called it really isn't about the money (as soon as I retire I get a raise) it's about seeing and making the lives of those you serve better. Blessings from The Black Preach Cop … LTC Mel

  30. Police definitely need to be reformed. They do need to get the trust back from the people; the only way is to join Commander Russell in his campaign on the Police reform speech. I give two thumbs up; Job was well done.
    I wish him well.

  31. His speech reminds me of a plea to save the environment… lacking specific instructions on how the average citizen can effect change.

  32. So the question is, how do we restructure/reform the police system so that community policing is the norm? So that it doesn't have to rely on a commissioner's influence, but rather, it's the policy system's default?

  33. I totally agree. That are some great police officers that do their job while protecting the civil rights of the people they serve and arrest. This recording is of sheriff deputies that kick in a door to arrest DeAndre Vincent a 27 year old black male. He hid but came out and surrendered to keep his girlfriend from being arrested. While surrendering he was tased numerous times, including in the face and beat by several officers. The actions starts at 24 minutes on the recording. This is a sad reality.
    8/11/2017. http://www.mediafire.com/file/600650nqyqbf7yk/Carter.mp3

  34. I'm a retired Detroit Police Officer first if you were a man that loved law enforcement you would never associate it with the word "cop" cop's and police officers are two different people after he continued I realized I was dealing with a blatant racist I worked with several bible thumping black bigots I wish he would of just said whites shouldn't be allowed to work in urban cities because just below the surface that was his real message.

  35. Ive been screaming for 15 years. End the war on drugs, end the Federal Reserve. You do those two things and violence and poverty will diminish incredibly. Cops dont listen, nobody listens.

  36. Gosh. I spent all the video time wondering on and off if he was a stand-up comic (honest to truth I was) coz it seems too good to be true. Then I read the Ted speech. He fucking IS true. Man, if I was sure to have him as a boss I'd jump the fence and enrol now. As of today, 2.2K views, that's pathetic (and says a lot about what interests ppl so no wonder we're in the cagga. He should go on Ellen's show so that really everybody hears what he's gotta say. So so hard to find someone who's got balls AND heart. Respect, man, BIG respect. I wish you safe and I wish you go far, for everyone's sake.

  37. There REALLY needs to be a reform! There have been human rights violations made by police officers on civilians for DARING to exercise their 1st Amendment, filming in public, open carrying guns LEGALLY, and even calling police names if they stepped out of line. Seriously, I've saw videos of police officers asking for IDs, even though they haven't told them they were accused of committing a crime. And I've seen police officers telling them that, ''Oh, you're trespassing'' despite filming in PUBLIC PLACES!!!

    We need to tell them that we have rights! And it doesn't give them the right to dictate what we can or cannot say or film! Filming is legal! So is swearing at police!

  38. It is amazing that the people are gathered and the community is formed and the state changes because of these communities. The people such as Melvin Russell who changed the city of Baltimore are in our country, and the problem of our society, the solution for it and the necessity of social change are emphasized I think it would be nice if I could give a speech to lead a change in modern society.

  39. Great message! But is this message stronger than police pride?? Unfortunately for most cops it is just a job, the paycheck and the power means more then the community.

  40. Allahu akbar! That's why I am muslim! La ilaha ilalah Mohammed rasululah!! REMEMBER to give it all up for God almighty! NOT the police America society. Only work for allah!! NOT this life ! Only work for the after life!! Islam is growing!

  41. I have been living under the tyranny of white neighbors 12 long years for daring to buy a condo in "THEIR" community. The black law enforcement here are such uncle tom's I would never trust them to side with me, with a MOUNTAIN of evidence. Why is it that the more blacks we get in law enforcement jobs, the less JUSTICE we are getting???? They ignore white criminals (they are afraid of) to do witch hunts on law abiding black citizens. Until recent years, EVERY time I called and a white policeman answered HE GAVE ME JUSTICE, HE STOOD WITH ME AGAINST WHITES IN THE WRONG.

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