Eastpointe City Manager Elke Doom swears in Deputy Police Chief Matthew Merlo Oct. 14.

Eastpointe City Manager Elke Doom swears in Deputy Police Chief Matthew Merlo Oct. 14.

Eastpointe’s Merlo named deputy police chief

By: Brian Louwers | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 16, 2021

 Melissa Merlo pins the new badge on her husband, now Deputy Police Chief Matthew Merlo, during a ceremony in Eastpointe’s City Council chambers on Oct. 14.

Melissa Merlo pins the new badge on her husband, now Deputy Police Chief Matthew Merlo, during a ceremony in Eastpointe’s City Council chambers on Oct. 14.

Photos by Brian Louwers

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EASTPOINTE — Matthew Merlo has lived in Eastpointe for 44 years. He grew up in the city, started work with its Police Department in his early 20s and did just about every job he could do as a sworn officer. 

Now, he’s the deputy police chief. 

“This was a dream job of mine when I got hired 27 years ago,” Merlo said Oct. 14, minutes after he was sworn in and signed his name to make the promotion official. “This is where I wanted to be as a young, 22-year-old kid.

“It’s the best job in the world,” Merlo said. 

He’ll step into the position formerly held by Deputy Chief Eric Keiser, and he will serve directly under Public Safety Director George Rouhib, who oversees the police and fire departments in the city of Eastpointe. 

“I am proud to work with Matt every day,” Rouhib told the assembled crowd of police officers and firefighters, city workers and officials, residents and members of Merlo’s family. “I think he’s going to be a huge asset to this department, this city, and I tell you what, the city of Eastpointe should be honored to have a guy like this working for them, and that’s the God’s honest truth.”

Accompanied by his parents, sister, wife and children, Merlo said he enjoys the close-knit ties of a small community like Eastpointe. 

“We’re a family town, and everybody that works for the city I consider my second family,” Merlo said. “I care about this city, just like everybody else does, and we’re here to do the best we can for our citizens.”

He said building a sense of trust and community through the work of the police department is a critical part of providing that service, and he credited those who have served under his command as a sergeant and a lieutenant.

“You guys are the ones that are out there and are the heart and soul of our department,” Merlo said.

“I’m a lucky guy. I was in the right place at the right time with these guys that worked underneath me. I piggybacked off their successes. They’re a great group of men and women in the department. I’m just very honored and privileged with this opportunity,” Merlo said.

Rouhib said he would continue working with Merlo to achieve accreditation for the department through the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. The comprehensive process covers 105 policies and procedures that each department’s command team must review and update to meet accreditation best practice standards. 

Both Rouhib and Merlo said they want to achieve accreditation for the Eastpointe Police Department before they retire. They also both talked about ensuring that the department reflects today’s changing philosophy in law enforcement, about building partnerships with the community through Neighborhood Watch and other programs, and about improving the quality of life for residents through better relationships.

“He’s very well respected in the community,” Rouhib said of Merlo. “He does a lot with our Neighborhood Watch group. He’s very good with the citizens.”

Rouhib added, “What I look for, every police officer and firefighter, when you’re in a position like this, you have to have good communication skills, analytical skills. You have to have the temperament, the intelligence. We’re trying to change the mindset of the police officers. We’re trying to change the culture of the department. We don’t want any bouncers here. I’ll say it again, we want people that can speak to people.”

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