Obituaries

Ned Merrick, 72, former police chief, law enforcement leader

Mr. Merrick’s career began in Brookline and ended in Plainville as police chief.
Mr. Merrick’s career began in Brookline and ended in Plainville as police chief.

The political savvy and expertise Ned Merrick displayed as legislative director of the Massachusetts Police Association through the 1980s and into the 1990s earned the respect of many, including former governor Michael S. Dukakis.

“Ned enjoyed his job and was very comfortable with it, but more important, he had a sense of what leaders in policing should be doing, and he was a valued friend to me,” Dukakis said. “He had great political skills in the best sense of the word, was a real advocate for modern community policing, and was among a new generation of police officers.”

A past president of the Massachusetts Police and Massachusetts Chiefs of Police associations, Mr. Merrick began his career in 1970 as a Brookline patrolman and retired in 2009 as Plainville’s police chief.

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His many other roles included serving as executive director of the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation, which financially supports the police memorial at the State House; as district governor of the Lions Club and director of the organization’s Eyemobile program; and as a board member of Cops for Kids With Cancer.

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Mr. Merrick, who was a Brookline police lieutenant before becoming Plainville’s police chief and director of public safety in 1994, died of lung cancer Jan. 5 in his Plainville home. He was 72.

“I learned a lot from him,” said Plainville Police Chief James Alfred, who still plays taps at the annual State House memorial service for fallen officers, which Mr. Merrick had encouraged him to do. “Ned recognized the value of technology and training and was instrumental in installing our first operations system. He was always trying to stay ahead of the curve.”

Jack Flynn, who worked with Mr. Merrick as a legislative agent for the Massachusetts Police Association, said that among his close friend’s key State House efforts were supporting indemnification for police officers, binding arbitration between management and police associations, and up-to-date recruit and in-service training.

“I admired how he would take on a job, give 100 percent, and rally people around him,” Flynn said. “He was smart and well-organized and put in a hell of a lot of effort — and wasn’t in it for the notoriety. It seemed there was nothing Ned didn’t have his hands in. I don’t know how he did it all.”

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Mr. Merrick’s family said he considered the Massachusetts Police Association’s successful support of the consolidation of the State Police, the Capitol Police, and the police departments of the Metropolitan District Commission and Registry of Motor Vehicles to be one of his biggest successes.

He “could reach people on both sides of an argument,” said Michael Merrill, a lawyer who formerly chaired the Brookline Select Board. Merrill, who shared office space near the State House with Mr. Merrick, said he “was a strategist with a business-like approach.”

Mr. Merrick also was a former vice president of the Massachusetts Fraternal Order of Police, and was its director of government affairs.

“Ned always had your back and I always sought this input,” said Todd Bramwell, the organization’s president. “If there was anything that would help police officers do their jobs the right way, Ned was always there to fight for it.”

A former chief of Metro-Star, a regional police response team, Mr. Merrick had been a member of the state’s Joint Labor-Management Committee for Police & Fire, and of the Statewide Emergency Telecommunications Board, which implemented enhanced 911 service.

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“He cast a big shadow. I’d compare Ned to a decathlete because he could do it all, although he understood and accepted that you don’t always win,” said Norfolk County Treasurer James Timilty, a former state senator who had chaired the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. “He was the chief of chiefs.”

Edward M. Merrick Jr. grew up in Milton and Brookline, a son of Dr. Edward M. Merrick and the former Mary Aileen Mahoney.

He graduated from Brookline High School in 1964 and served in the Air Force, rising to the rank of sergeant. He subsequently served in the Massachusetts National Guard.

Mr. Merrick’s first marriage, to Joan Hennessy, ended in divorce. They had three children.

He graduated in 1978 from Northeastern University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and received a master’s in criminal justice from Anna Maria College in 1990. In conjunction with the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Council, he was an adjunct instructor at Anna Maria College and Western New England College.

In 1988, he married Donna Leone, a mutual funds analyst whose father was a Brookline police officer. “There were a lot of late suppers because of his work,” she said, “but Ned always had time for family, and he especially enjoyed annual family reunions on Block Island, one of his favorite places.”

She added that Mr. Merrick treated people from all walks of life equally, and that “when you had him for a friend, you had a true friend.”

Like her husband, she became involved with the Plainville community, also serving as Lions Club president. In 2016, after Mr. Merrick was diagnosed with cancer, he served as president of the Massachusetts Lions Eye Research Fund and helped raise more than $1 million.

Doug Mellis, who succeeded Mr. Merrick as executive director of the Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation, said his longtime friend “fit his role perfectly with the foundation, as a compassionate people person.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Merrick leaves his daughter, Lynn Merrick Nagle, and two sons, Edward III and Stephen, all of Marshfield; two sisters, Lee Ellicott of Porter, Ind., and Viki of Woods Hole; three brothers, Brian of West Barnstable, John of Manchester, N.H., and Christopher of Kingston; and six grandchildren.

A funeral Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. Monday in St. Martha Church in Plainville. Burial will be in St. Joseph Cemetery in West Roxbury.

“By nature he was kind, funny and smart,” Mr. Merrick’s brother Brian wrote in a eulogy he planned to deliver. “Governors of both parties and legislators have said Ned was effective because his word was good. He treated governors and the guy in the coffee shop the same, and was a man of great faith.”

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.