We’ve invested so much in police departments as protectors, that we have forgotten what it means to serve our communities, says Baltimore Police officer Lt. Colonel Melvin Russell. It’s led to coldness, callousness, and dehumanized us. It’s time to focus on community policing and working with the communities. Lt. Col. Russell took this approach in the Eastern District of Baltimore and it worked, bringing about record low crime.

Lt. Colonel Melvin T. Russell is Chief of the Community Partnership Division, Baltimore Police Department. Russell graduated from the BPD academy in 1981 as the first and only African American class valedictorian. Russell worked both as a uniform patrol and then an undercover officer for 20 years before re-emerging as an Eastern District Lieutenant in 2007. In this position, Russell turned the worst-performing midnight patrol shift in the city into the best-performing in 3 months and was promoted to Major of the Eastern District 11 months later.