Elk Rapids Police Chief Remembered for Dedication to Community

“He had strong ties everywhere he went.”

A local police chief died unexpectedly, now many Northern Michigan communities are remembering him.

Chief Tom Emerson had been with the village of Elk Rapids Police Department since 2011.

Before that he served more than 25 years with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office and several fire departments.

But this isn’t the only community where Tom Emerson has left a legacy.

“Honesty, integrity, service: that’s Chief Emerson,” Elk Rapids Village President James Janisse said.

Tom Emerson worked for the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office from 1983 until he retired as captain in 2010.

“We were lucky to snag him up,” Janisse said.

Then he took over the village of Elk Rapids Police Department in 2011.

Then becoming a volunteer firefighter for the village three years ago, but this also wasn’t his first time in that role.

“He was part of the rural fire department down in Whitewater for years,” Janisse  said.

“Tom brought to us a great deal of experience, was one of our trainers,” Peter VanDenBerge, Elk Rapids Fire Department chief said.

“If you had asked which one he liked more, depending on the day you wouldn’t be able to tell he liked being a fireman and he loved being a policeman,” Janisse said.

Tom also recently set up a police presence in Elk Rapids Schools, and trained officers how to respond.

“Always helpful for everybody whether its village staff or residents. The kind of guy you could always count on always there,” Bill Cooper, Elk Rapids village manager said.

“He’s just very dedicated, he’s a very service oriented person, public service that is just an awesome individual to have in your community. We’re just really lucky to have had him,” Peter said.

A man dedicated to serving his community and taken too soon.

“You hear the words, I made a commitment and he wasn’t going to change it and that was pretty admirable. I mean I thought about that throughout the night, that’s the kind of guy he was,” Janisse said.

Funeral arrangements have not been made yet, but all of the different communities and lives Emerson impacted are taking part.

And we will be sure to update you when plans are set.