By Jacquelyn Zeman – Managing/News Editor
Grand Rapids Community College Campus Police Lieutenant, Scott Merlo, has accepted a new position as the Campus Police Chief at Western Michigan University. He started work at WMU yesterday.
Merlo started at GRCC two and a half years ago. Prior to working at GRCC, he worked for Kalamazoo Public Safety for 23 years. Merlo is a graduate of the criminal justice and political science program at WMU, and is excited to have the opportunity to work for his alma mater.
Merlo came to work at GRCC because he was interested in working with students.
“I knew I wanted to stay in a school setting because…my last three plus years I was in charge of the community policing unit (in Kalamazoo),” Merlo said. “I spent a lot of time in schools, with kids, and I really enjoyed it. I was really looking for something in law enforcement that had to do with community policing and to do with a school setting. This is what presented itself.”
Merlo reflected on his time working at GRCC, and said, surprisingly, there was not a lot of criminal activity that he had to deal with while working here.
“You’d think downtown Grand Rapids, it would be a little busier, and it’s not…I think part of it goes to show the good job that the officers do. They are very visible, and they are proactive. I don’t think it is an attractive area for criminals to come.”
Merlo said he really enjoyed working at GRCC because of the work atmosphere that his coworkers provided.
“I really enjoyed being here, on this campus, because of the faculty and staff,” Merlo said.
“Whether that’s in facilities, student life…all across the board. I think that is what I enjoy the most. I think that is my biggest accomplishment here. It’s just the relationships with these people. This is a great place to work, and I will miss the people here. I think this goes unnoticed, but the dedication that people have here is incredible.”
Merlo said that he looks at leaving GRCC as leaving his family in many ways.
“I think relationships are my strength, building and maintaining them,” Merlo said.
Merlo has been impressed overall with the college experience that GRCC offers students.
“As I have always said, for education you need to go somewhere that is a good bang for the buck. This place is it,” he said. “It is a great setting, and you have great professors here…it’s a great way to start your college career.”
Merlo’s last day at GRCC was Sept. 19, and his replacement has not been hired yet.
Merlo’s coworkers were asked not to comment on his resignation stating that all questions must go through campus communications or be approved by GRCC Police Chief Rebecca Whitman. Whitman declined to comment without approval of campus communications.
Victoria Janowiak, GRCC’s Executive Director of Operational Planning said GRCC is going to miss Merlo.
“This is an awesome opportunity for lieutenant Merlo,” Janowiak said. “To a certain extent it was a no brainer for him, but he was a great member of the campus police force, and we’re going to miss him.”
As a Kalamazoo native, Merlo is thrilled to be working in his hometown once again.
“For me it boils down to a couple of things,” Merlo said. “I have been a Bronco all my life. I graduated from Western, my parents and siblings graduated, aunts and uncles graduated from Western. It is a university I truly have a passion for and I love.”