New chief takes helm in Warren

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A new police chief is at the helm of the Warren Police Department. Chief Eric Merkel was sworn in Tuesday.

Merkel joined the department 18 years ago. He spent only two months as captain before being promoted to chief.

The husband and father of two is excited about his new position and wants to implement his plan for the department right away. Merkel said he plans to start a street crimes unit to address everything from abandoned cars to violent crime in the city. He also wants to work closer with the community.

“We need to share more information with the community so we know what’s going on out there,” said Merkel. “There’s a lot of eyes and ears, and we need to know what’s going on. There’s only so many police officers and we can’t be everywhere. We need to know what’s going on.”

Merkel is taking over for former Chief Tim Bowers, who spent six years as chief.

Robert Massucci is now filling the captain’s position vacated by Merkel. Massucci also plans to involve the community in policing efforts and work on cases himself.

“I plan on being more of a working executive versus just standing still and watching,” said Massucci.

The department currently has 59 officers. Four years ago there were 84.

Four other officers also were promoted on Tuesday, including John Yuricek, who was promoted to lieutenant, and Gregory Coleman, Bryan Holmes and Geoffrey Fusco, who all were promoted to sergeant.

“With the gentlemen who were sworn in today, I’m very confident that we’ll be able to address those issues in a new innovative way as well,” said Warren Mayor Doug Franklin. “That’s not to take anything away from Chief Bowers, who did an excellent job.”

On Wednesday, four new officers will take the oath of office: Dania B. Gillam, Michael L. Altiere, Peter Goranitis and Chad J. Shrader.

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