Pickett will replace the board’s current chairman, Doug Davis, who plans to resign Oct. 15 to become chief of staff for Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. Townsend was tapped for Pickett’s vacant at-large post.
The parole board is comprised of one chairman and four active members, each appointed at-large. The board meets weekly to review the cases of state offenders to determine parole eligibility
“I appreciate Doug’s service to the people of Mississippi and look forward to working with him in his new role,” Bryant said.
Pickett, who has served on the board since his original appointment on Nov. 10, 2012, will assume the chairmanship Oct. 16.
“Steven brings a vast amount of law enforcement experience to the Mississippi Parole Board and will make for a seamless transition as chairman,” Bryant said.
Bryant’s at-large appointment, Pearl Police Department Lieutenant Butch Townsend, is a third generation law enforcement officer with more than 35 years of experience. Townsend’s term begins Oct. 16.
Townsend has served the Pearl Police Department for 25 years in a variety of capacities, including chief of police, chief of detectives and senior investigator in both the Criminal Investigations Division and the Juvenile Division. He has served as the department’s public information officer since 2009.
Townsend has been recognized throughout his career for numerous accomplishments including Officer of the Year for the Pearl Police Department. He is one of the department’s most highly trained individuals with regard to juvenile and criminal investigations; he worked more than 550 cases while assigned to the juvenile division and more than 6,200 cases while assigned to the criminal investigations division.
“Butch’s seasoned law enforcement background and training will be instrumental to the board,” Gov. Bryant said.
Townsend holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a native of Brandon and is married to Dr. Sue Townsend. The Townsend’s have one child, Chelsea.
“I am honored to be appointed to this position by Governor Bryant,” Townsend said. “While I hate to leave the Pearl Police Department, I believe this is a unique opportunity to serve and bring my extensive law enforcement training to the table.”
Townsend’s appointment will be brought before the Mississippi Senate for confirmation during the 2014 legislative session. Pickett’s appointment as chairman does not require Senate confirmation.