IMAGE: Robert Pickell

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell announced he was retiring at a press conference on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

"The greatest professional privilege of my lifetime has been serving each of you as your Sheriff for the past 20 years. Every single day that I have gone into the Sheriff’s Office, working on your behalf, has been a great honor," Pickell wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

His last day will be Jan. 5, 2020.

"It is perhaps one of the most difficult decisions, deciding when to retire from a job you have loved for so long, but I am confident I am making the right decision, at the right time," Pickell said.

There will be an appointment process for Pickell's replacement. Genesee County Clerk John Gleason said he wants to hold open meetings and have a public selection process, but it's unclear when or if that would happen.

There is no recommendation from Pickell on who should replace him.

Pickell has held the position for almost 21 years.

"I cannot thank you enough for the trust you have shown in me over the past two decades. Public service has been a way of life for me over my entire career, and I cannot think of a better way to spend a lifetime," Pickell said.

Pickell has spent many years with a special interest in protecting the vulnerable with his elder abuse and GHOST human trafficking task force.

Pickell's GHOST team recently arrested dozens of people for internet crimes associated with accosting children for immoral purposes.

Pickell also announced multiple arrests of people who were neglecting and abusing elderly adults while they were supposed to be taking care of them.

He has also been an advocate to stop animal abuse and drugs.

Pickell said the sheriff's office will be in good hands.

"I'm also confident, but I can leave knowing that the Undersheriff Chris Swanson will be a caretaker for these programs until there's an appointment of a sheriff," Pickell said.

Pickell described himself as the people's sheriff and hopes the next elected sheriff will continue that legacy.

His career spans across the country from working as a police officer in the city of Flint to moving to Virginia to work for the CIA.

He said his career landed him back in Genesee County where he was appointed to the sheriff's office in 1999.

Pickell said he has loved his career and wished he could have done even more.

"That's my one regret, that we weren't able to help more people. And as I leave, the thing I'm going to miss most is helping people," he said.

Copyright 2019 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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