TheTED Talk video under consideration is titled, “I love being apolice officer but we need reform.” I was appalled to hear a policeofficer confess that law enforcement needs reform. Melvin Russell’sopening statement in which he says he “loves, and is, proud ofbeing a police officer because it has always been more of a callingfor him” is the most interesting part at the start of the video(Russell 1). Russell disagrees with the way law enforcement is beinghandled in the United States. He also confesses that police officersneed to admit the need for institutional reforms in law enforcement.He says, “Because we are a proud profession, it is very hard for usto look in the mirror and see our mistakes. It is even hard to make achange” (Russell 1). This statement reveals that Russell does notshy away from taking responsibility for the mistrust between policeofficers and the public. He also admits that the longstandinggridlock of no reforms in police departments around the country isdue to the refusal of police officers to accept that they can alsomake mistakes.
Atfirst, Russell creates the impression that law enforcement has failedcitizens by perpetrating injustice to minorities. He says, “We’veforgotten that the mantra across this nation is to protect and serve”(Russell 1). The reforms that Russell talks about in the videoinvolve community policing that will restore public confidence.Russell’s ideas are not just about the change that needs to happenin law enforcement. His desire is that the society works with lawenforcement agencies to build trust through community policing. Hesays, “It shouldn’t have been us against them….We have investedso much in our protective arm that we forgot to treat our communitieslike they are our customers, like they are our sons and daughters ourchildren, our mothers and our fathers” (Russell 1). Russellexpresses remorse in a manner that shows he takes responsibility as apolice officer for the failures that exist in law enforcement. Hisbalanced view is insightful because it goes beyond rhetoric andreveals to the public his consciousness about the correct role thepolice should play in protecting and serving them as opposed to beingan agent of oppression.
Uponfurther critical thinking, emerges that Russell is not just aremorseful police officer who is interested in seeing reforms in lawenforcement. He believes that the public should also be part of thereform process. After explaining how the police have failed to playtheir role to society, Russell also takes public into account. Hesays, “But, you know what? It’s not just about law enforcementthough. All of us are make up a community. As communities we have puttoo much responsibility on law enforcement. We’ve all lost thatprecious gift and I call it, relational equity.”
Thevideo provides a very important theme for discussion: communitypolicing to improve the relationship between police officers and thepublic. Russell’s presentation summarizes the fact that lawenforcement should be people-oriented and people-centered. Communitypolicing uses methods that make the police to work more closely withthe people. Police departments need to collect information aboutpeople’s attitudes toward crime problems and the effectiveness ofthe police in combating it (Wing, 1). One of the methods policedepartments can use to collect information from the public is toconduct surveys. Others, especially in rural states, can use town andneighborhood meetings. Gathering information from the public allowsthe police to collect the tools needed to accomplish different tasksin law enforcement.
Lawenforcement through community policing can be effective when policedepartments evaluate the effectiveness of their programs in terms ofreducing fear or bad attitudes toward the police (Kappeler, Victor,and Gaines 14). Police departments also use the information they haveabout the community to gauge behavior such as victimization and/orcrime prevention efforts. Understanding the community they serveessentially directs police departments to set community goals andpriorities. Community policing facilitates two-way communicationbetween the police and the public . Police and public engagementsdevelops will enhance the confidence of public in policeinterventions. Police departments should engage the people based onthe information they have about their attitudes toward the police andthe entire institution of law enforcement.
Russell’spresentation incredibly proves that community policing can work as analternative to aloofness strategies that police officers usecurrently. Considering that he is a police officer, Russell’spresentation provides an opportunity for the audience to realize thechanges that should happen from the perspective of an insider ratherthan an outsider in law enforcement. The mistrust between the policeand the people is due to inadequate commitment of police departmentsto initiate community policing programs. The public is likely to bemore responsible when people are involved in the process offormulating strategies to deal with crime. Community policing isusable in any kind of police department regardless of the size. Problems that lie in the community such as existence of a youth gangare addressed by both the community the police. The strategies thatare used in combating crime originate from the contribution of thecommunity and the professional approaches of the police.
Kappeler,Victor E., and Larry K. Gaines. Communitypolicing: A contemporary perspective.Routledge, 2012.
Russell,Melvin. Ilove being a Police Officer, but we need Reform.Available at
Wing,Nick. 16Numbers That Explain Why Police Reform Became An Even Bigger Story In2015.TheHuffingtonPost.