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Melvin L. ‘Spunky’ Cross Sr., a former Baltimore City mounted police officer who became a Ravens security officer, dies

Melvin L. "Spunky" Cross Sr. served with a Baltimore City Police flex squad and on the patrol, mounted and motorcycle units.
Melvin L. "Spunky" Cross Sr. served with a Baltimore City Police flex squad and on the patrol, mounted and motorcycle units.

Melvin L. “Spunky” Cross Sr., a former Baltimore City mounted police officer who later was a member of the Ravens security team, died March 4 of undetermined causes at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The resident of the Beverly Hills neighborhood was 53.

“Melvin was very family-oriented and dedicated to his job,” said Chris Pruett, a former city police officer, who is now a deputy with the Harford County Police. “He was always smiling and happy and I never saw him mad. He was very popular with everyone and one of the best I’ve ever known.”

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Craig Singleterry was both a longtime friend and colleague.

“We worked together for the last seven or eight years at the Ravens and earlier we were in the police department together where I was in patrol,” Mr. Singleterry said. “Melvin was a good guy, family-oriented and could light up a room with his personality. He cared more about people than anything else and was a godsend. He was just an all-around great guy.”

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Melvin LeMarcus Cross Sr., son of Melvin Cross, a city firefighter, and his wife, Cynthia Cross, a federal government worker, was born in Baltimore and raised on Lakeside Avenue in Ednor Gardens.

Melvin L. "Spunky" Cross Sr. joined the Ravens' security force full time in 2012.
Melvin L. "Spunky" Cross Sr. joined the Ravens' security force full time in 2012.

He attended city parochial schools and graduated in 1986 from Northern High School, where he was a member of the track and field team. He attended Baltimore City Community College, studying law enforcement, investigation and interviewing. He entered the Baltimore Police Department in 1987 and graduated from the academy the next year.

During his more than two decades with the department, Mr. Cross served with a flex squad and on the patrol, mounted and motorcycle units. “He was in homicide and narcotics briefly but loved being in mounted because he loved horses,” said his sister, Daryll Wharton of East Baltimore.

“Officer Melvin L. Cross had never been on a horse when he left his post as a detective in the Violent Crimes Task Force to become a mounted police officer 3 1/2 years ago,” The Sun reported in 2000.

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“It looked like it was a cool thing to do. It’s a lot of fun. You form a sense of camaraderie with the horse,” he explained in the interview. “You never gotta argue about where you’re going to eat. They don’t fuss. They don’t complain.”

Said Ms. Wharton: “He loved being a police officer and helping the community.”

Added Mr. Pruett: “Some cops try to act like tough guys, but Melvin didn’t act like that. But, if you wanted a backup, you wanted Melvin to be with you. If you were in a fight, you were looking over your shoulder for him.”

Even when he was on duty, Mr. Cross remained concerned about his family’s welfare.

“I remember Melvin sitting in back of the patrol car whispering into the phone one night, and when I listened, he was speaking to his wife, asking if they were OK and where was his son,” Mr. Pruett said. “He just wanted to make sure they were all right.”

Said Mr. Singleterry: “Melvin had a superb work ethic. If you ran into a problem, he’d help you solve it.”

After leaving the mounted patrol in 2001, he spent the last nine years of his career as a member of the motorcycle unit.

“I had been a motorcycle instructor in the unit, and those motorcycles weigh 900 pounds and you have to teach officers how to push them to the side of the road if they break down,” Mr. Pruett recalled. “I remember Melvin coming from cancer treatment and then having to push the motorcycle, and I ask him if he needed help, and he’d say, ‘No. I’m good.’ He was a big guy who was always working out.”

After retiring from the police department in 2010, he worked for two years in Morgan State University’s Police and Public Safety Department.

Mr. Cross worked part time in security for the Ravens while still on the police force, and in 2012 he went to work for the football team full time. During his years with the Ravens, he enjoyed traveling with the team and attending playoff games, including a Super Bowl.

Mr. Cross retired from the team on a disability in 2018.

While growing up in Ednor Gardens, he met his future wife, the former Kendle Clark, at an early age, and the couple eventually became high school sweethearts, and married in 1990.

Melvin L. "Spunky" Cross Sr. on patrol in Little Italy in 2000. Baltimore Sun photo
Melvin L. "Spunky" Cross Sr. on patrol in Little Italy in 2000. Baltimore Sun photo (Lloyd Fox)

“I remember that day in 1985 when you were outside of my parent’s house and I came out and started talking to you,” Mrs. Cross wrote in a tribute to her husband. “That was the beginning of our story. I remember you telling me years later that you had stood outside many times before hoping I would come out and talk to you. ... People ask me all the time how did we stay together so long. The answer is simple ... we are best friends.”

Mr. Cross enjoyed working out.

“I left the city police force 11 years ago, and he was the only person I kept in touch with,” Mr. Pruett said. “Melvin was unique and a one-of-a-kind person. He was one of the best I’ve ever known.”

Services were held March 15 at the Vaughn C. Greene Funeral Home in Randallstown.

In addition to his wife of 30 years, Mrs. Cross, an educator, and his sister, Mr. Cross is survived by his son, Melvin L. Cross Jr. of Manassas, Virginia; his mother, Cynthia Cross of Ednor Gardens; many nieces and nephews; and a host of cousins.

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