In five years since joining the Brentwood Police Department, patrol officer Billy Townsend has served as a member of the honor guard, bike patrol and on the Crisis Intervention Team.
Recently, Townsend’s training as part of the CIT helped save a young man’s life.
Townsend received a radio call to respond to a situation involving a young man with mental health issues. He prayed to God, saying, “Give me the words.”
“Everything I do is mission-driven and gospel-centered,” Townsend said. “I live with the heart of a servant, like my savior loves me. My passion is to show glory to God above all else.”
Townsend relied on his training and, as he said, used the words God gave him to talk to the young man and his family.
“Officer Townsend was exceptional in helping my son,” the mother of the young man who was having the mental episode said. “He showed care and compassion toward my son and me. I am grateful to him. To have the composure at 27 years old to use the words he did was amazing.”
Sadly, Townsend said calls for people experiencing mental health issues are becoming more regular.
“During a Monday through Friday shift, I am responding to three to five mental health issue calls a week,” he said.
Townsend grew up on the south side of Nashville and attended John Overton High School. He knew the city of Brentwood was the only place he wanted to be a police officer.
He attended Tennessee Tech University and studied sociology and criminal justice, but due to his youth and lack of experience, it took a few times to get hired by the department.
“During the interview process in 2016, Billy said if he were not selected, then he would reapply until we hired him,” Jim Colvin, captain of the patrol division, said. “He said that Brentwood was the only agency he wanted to work for. We are extremely proud of Billy and the impact he makes in the city of Brentwood.
“I am thankful he chose the BPD, and he is the perfect fit for this community, and he knew it before we did.”
Nick Surre supervises Townsend. He’s been surprised by his coworker’s character towards others.
“Billy is the definition of the Golden Rule,” Surre said. “He treats people with respect, kindness and compassion.”
Townsend feels building a relationship with his community is important, especially with children and young people, so they trust the police are there for them if they need it.
“When someone makes a 911 call, you know it is probably not their best day, and I simply try to talk them through it,” he said. “Taking extra time to talk with victims and those in distress is one thing I feel is important. Listening is important.”
While the job can be stressful, Townsend said the department has a counselor to help with traumatic incidents. In addition, his wife is in the mental health profession, and while she can’t treat her husband, she can talk him through his feelings.
At the end of the day, Townsend feels appreciative to work for BPD. The department, the support the officers are given, the training and the city make the job great.
“I have great leadership, co-workers and an incredible city to serve. I believe in loving thy neighbor. My faith guides everything I do,” he said.
Persistence sure has seemed to pay off for Townsend and the Brentwood Police Department.