WMU taps alum, former K'zoo Public Safety officer as next police chief

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News
Photo of the WMU police station

Photo of the WMU police station

KALAMAZOO, Mich.--A Western Michigan University graduate and longtime former officer with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety is WMU's new top law enforcement official.

Scott R. Merlo, who most recently served as a lieutenant for two years with the police department at Grand Rapids Community College, began his first day at his new WMU post on Monday, Sept. 29. His appointment was approved by the WMU Board of Trustees at its Sept. 30 meeting.

Scott R. Merlo

Merlo graduated from WMU in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and political science. He began his KDPS duties as a public safety officer in the Operations Division in 1990 and went on to win several departmental awards for excellence, merit and life saving. He served as a detective in the Criminal Investigation Division from 1995 to 1999 and a sergeant and detective sergeant from 1999 to 2006, when he was promoted to lieutenant. He also served as an executive lieutenant and acting captain from 2007 until April 2012, when he started the job at GRCC.

As a GRCC lieutenant, Merlo was responsible for the supervision of 10 campus police officers and a sergeant and the day-to-day operations of the department. He reviewed criminal cases and investigative actions, worked with officers and citizens to identify campus problems and concerns and assisted with maintianing campus crime statistics, reporting directly to the chief of campus police.

Merlo replaces Robert Brown, who is on a one-year leave of absence and plans to retire in January, 2015. Blaine Kalafut has been serving as interim chief during the search for Brown's replacement.

"Scott Merlo brings many important credentials to his new role. He's a WMU alumnus with long and deep connections to our University and the community, and he enjoyed a successful 22-year career with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety," says Jan Van Der Kley, vice president for business and finance, who oversees the University's public safety unit. "He has extensive experience in a variety of policing specialty areas, and he has the respect of community leaders and his law enforcement colleagues. It's a great fit."

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