CIRCLEVILLE — Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office Detective Rex Emrick has died.
Emrick, a 46-year veteran of the department, died on Jan. 26 due to COVID-19.
Emrick began his law enforcement career in April 1974 with the Mt. Sterling Police Department and was hired by then Sheriff Dwight Radcliff in 1976.
After 18 years as a deputy, Emrick was promoted to his most recent position in the detective bureau and since worked with law enforcement agencies all over the state and country.
Emrick was featured in the Jan. 10, 2020 Edition of The Circleville Herald where he spoke about his years in the Sheriff’s Office, doing the job and about his family.
“I’ve had an enjoyable career here working for Dwight and Robert B. Radcliff,” Emrick told The Circleville Herald in that interview.
Emrick shared his love of talking with people and being an investigator.
“Sometimes I talk too much,” Emrick said, with a laugh. “I’ve enjoyed talking to people and helping people. It’s not all about arresting people. We have a very troubled society today. Law enforcement people do have to have compassion, as well as protecting people.”
Emrick shared with The Herald that he enjoyed hunting and being with his grandchildren.
“I like going deer hunting, we’re just at the end of the season now,” he said. “I enjoy being with my grandkids on the weekend, my wife and I have them quite a bit. This past summer, I bought a pellet grill and I got into cooking on the weekends. It’s pretty easy to learn how to do it because there are a lot of experts on Facebook or YouTube telling you how to do it. You just have to pull it up.”
Emrick’s career is filled with awards and accommodations. Some of the awards include; 1978 Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association Commendation Award, 1994 Law Enforcement Excellence Award by the Ohio Department of Public Safety, 1996-1997 Ohio Auto Theft Investigator of The Year, 2001 VFW Post #331 Circleville Officer of the Year, 2008 The Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association for Outstanding Performance of Duty, 2012 Central Ohio Crime Stoppers Law Enforcement Officer of the Year and The 32nd Degree Masons Valley of Columbus and Pickaway County Scottish Rite Association Community Service Award.
Emrick served under three sheriff’s, Dwight Radcliff, Robert Radcliff and Matthew Hafey.
Emrick was remembered by his friends and coworkers this week following his death.
Robert Radcliff said Emrick was family, “like a brother or uncle,” and their history dates back to his time as a child living at the Sheriff’s Office on West Franklin Street.
“I was 15 years old when he came to the Sheriff’s Office and I was honored to not only have him as an employee, but as a friend,” Radcliff said. “As far as an employee, there’s nobody that had more dedication than Rex Emrick. He didn’t like to take vacation or time off; he wanted to be on the job.”
Radcliff said Emrick was someone that if you needed something investigated, you wanted him on the case.
“You wanted him on the case because he was a natural and he knew how to talk to people,” he said. “People were willing to tell him things they wouldn’t tell anyone else. This county has lost a great public servant and a detective that cannot be replaced.”
Radcliff spoke about Emrick’s dedication to his friends and community.
“If you needed something, he would be there,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Rex would have taken a bullet for me and everyone else at the Sheriff’s Office. That’s the person that he was.”
Radcliff said Emrick was so dedicated to the job, he went out a second-floor window with a suspect and recently fought with a younger guy while in the field.
“He never stopped being who he was,” Radcliff said.
Dale Parrish, who recently retired from the Sheriff’s Office after his own 40-plus-year career, said it was hard to put into words how much of a loss Emrick’s death was.
“Back when we first started, we literally grew up together,” he said. “Rex and I shared an interest in investigations and we vacationed together. I knew him in many aspects. He was more than a coworker; he was like a brother. “
Parrish too recalled the case in which Emrick went out the second-story window.
“It was the case where there was a fire at the old prosecutor’s office, which is the parking lot next to the old jail now,” he said. “[The suspect] thought he knew the evidence in his pending case would be there, so he set it on fire to get his evidence destroyed. He had this whole elaborate plan to destroy the evidence, do a burglary in Tarlton and then take off and change his name. It never quite got that far. We were waiting on him.”
Parrish said that was the dedication to the job, to see it through.
“We worked many cases over the years and we always tracked them down 100 percent, and it was never finished until the case was over,” he said. “We were taught by Sheriff [Dwight Radcliff] that when we got on a case, we saw it through to the end.”
Parrish said Emrick has helped so many people over the years, it’s hard to recall them all.
“There’s little doubt that he’ll always be remembered for it,” he said.
Jim Bingman met Emrick at the Sheriff’s Office when he was a dispatcher. One of the things that stood out to him was Emrick’s spelling ability, or lack thereof.
“He was one of those guys that we hit it off right away in the beginning and became pretty good friends, we were both young and single and went to places together,” he said.
“I was working as a dispatcher training Rex, back in the days when everything was pencil and paper and typewriter, and he struggled with it spelling certain words. We even had spelling tests so he could learn. I bought him a dictionary for him to look up the spelling of the words and he asked me how he could do that if he didn’t know how to spell them. I thought that was funny.”
Bingman, who is in Florida right now, said he’s still in shock over Emrick’s death.
“I recall my last day in uniform and we took a picture together, that was a month ago,” he said.
Bingman worked the roads at the same time as Emrick and, echoing the thoughts of Radcliff and Parrish, said he was someone who never met a stranger.
“He had a gift with talking to people, whether they were in crisis or needed help,” he said. “Everyone opened up to him. He knew a little bit about everything. You could talk about farming, cars and I even remember when he bought a boat and went to to Deercreek and waterskied. He enjoyed life and could get into anything and have a good time or make a good time out of it.
You could go any direction in this county and find people that knew Rex,” he said. “Nobody said anything bad about him because he’s one of those guys that everyone liked.”