Mike Byrd biography

SUN HERALDAugust 30, 2013 

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd had almost 40 years in law enforcement when he won an unprecedented fourth term of office in 2011 at age 61.

His father, Cecil Byrd, served one term as Jackson County sheriff in the 1960s.

During the 2011 election, Mike Byrd said he considered his ability to persuade area law enforcement to work together and the revitalization of the countywide narcotics task force as his major accomplishments.

But by 2012, trouble had begun to set in. The Jackson County Narcotics Task Force had dissolved in a cloud of controversy over an in-house shooting. By mid-2013, Byrd was under investigation by the District Attorney's Office for the way his investigators handled pornography and sex-offender cases.

Byrd grew up in Moss Point, but according to the county website he was born in Pascagoula in 1950 and graduated from Pascagoula High School, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Training Academy in Pearl and the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

He began his career in law enforcement in 1972 with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office as a dispatcher and worked his way up to investigator. He joined the Moss Point Police Department in 1976 as a patrolman and earned the rank of captain in 1981.

Byrd was one of the first officers hired when Gautier incorporated in 1987. He served there as a captain of police and training officer until he was sworn in as sheriff of the county.

Byrd's son, Pascagoula police officer Terry Micheal Byrd, died in 2006 when his police motorcycle collided with another vehicle.

Byrd is a gospel singer and is known for sponsoring gospel sings and the sheriff's annual rodeo fundraiser. During his tenure, he has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in Homeland Security grants connected with the county to help with patrolling the Port of Pascagoula and its major industry.

But he has butted heads with county supervisors over the two helicopters he bought with confiscated drug money.

In 13 years, his operating budget, not including the jail, has grown from $4.9 million in 2000 to $9.4 million -- $3.5 million of the increase is in personnel and salaries.

A loyal Republican and fan of the party, he has pictures of himself and others -- one in particular when Rudy Giuliani visited -- on the walls of his office.

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