ER mourns unexpected loss of police chief

Dave Lein, Editor

Photo by Dave Lein

Chief Tom Emerson is shown in March at an Elk Rapids Village Council meeting after presenting one of his officers with a lifesaving award.


Photo by Dave Lein

The sign outside the Elk Rapids Police Department was draped with a black ribbon last Friday morning following the unexpected death of ERPD Chief Tom Emerson.


ELK RAPIDS – Friends, family, community members and village staff were shocked last Friday morning to learn about the sudden death of popular Elk Rapids Police Chief Tom Emerson.

Emerson, 58, died unexpectedly around 11:30 p.m. Thursday, May 10 at his home, five miles south of Elk Rapids. Autopsy results released Tuesday indicate he died of a brain aneurism.

Emerson came to the Elk Rapids Police Department (ERPD) in 2011 after retiring at the rank of captain from a distinguished 26-year career with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office.

“He continued to serve with distinction at the village,” said Village Manager Bill Cooper, “maintaining unwavering professionalism. He earned and held the respect of his officers, fellow department heads and management – and the village council. He did a lot for this community, and his loss has created a big void to fill.”

Cooper will serve as the department’s chief – supervising four officers – until a replacement is found.

Emerson, a native of the Grand Traverse area, was married to his wife Vickie for more than 30 years and was, according to Cooper, “deeply proud” of his daughter Erica,” a student at Elk Rapids High School.

Besides serving as police chief, Emerson had extensive training as a firefighter – serving for many years with the Grand Traverse Rural Fire Department, and later with the Elk Rapids Fire Department. One week prior to his death, Emerson was officially recognized with the department’s “Firefighter of the Year” honor during a special community awards ceremony on May 3.

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