By KEVIN CHIRI
Published 12:00 am Monday, January 31, 2005
LAPLACE – Major Michael Tregre of the St. John Sheriff’s Office has had his hand in quite a long list of law enforcement work since he began in the business.
Tregre began at a young age working as a prison guard in Orleans Parish, and since then has been a regular patrol officer in St. John, a detective, an undercover officer, head of internal affairs, and most recently, Director of Public Integrity as the spokesperson for Sheriff Wayne Jones and the department.
But even Tregre found himself with a new experience at a higher level of law enforcement as he recently concluded an 11-week training stint at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.
Tregre was sent to the Academy by the sheriff as part of the ongoing training for many of the officers and departments on the force.
For Tregre, it broadened his skills in many areas, all in an effort to bring more expertise back home to St. John Parish.
“What something like this does is help us be even more prepared for anything back home,” he explained. “There were so many experiences to learn from. We had legal classes, leadership classes, media training, hard physical challenges and most of all, an opportunity to talk with 250 other officers from all around the world.”
The chance to discuss big and small problems, and solutions, was one of the highlights for Tregre.
“It really helps to talk to others who have dealt with similar problems we face,” he noted.
Tregre got his first induction into how unique the training would be when he found out he was rooming with an officer from Germany.
That began an 11-week grind that included everything from putting police spokesmen on the spot with a morning talk show, to meeting a state trooper who had been blinded after being shot in the line of duty.
“It really reminded us to take all training seriously,” he said.
One of the most interesting revelations to the St. John officer was how the FBI is now approaching all aspects of terrorism.
“We saw documentation of how local level law enforcement had contact with the 9/11 people, and were reminded that officers on a local level will probably encounter terrorists before anyone else will,” he said. “It is very obvious that the FBI is committed to 9/11 never happening again.”
Even though Tregre works out on a regular basis himself, he said that he was pressed by the “Yellow Brick Road” Challenge that was held throughout the stay. Different runs and obstacle courses were held, slowly building to a final 6.1 “Yellow Brick Road Challenge.” Officers who completed all the challenges, and the final one, were given a yellow brick with a stamp of their stay, including a T-shirt showing all the races they completed.
Tregre adds this training to his earlier days when he started as a prison guard over 65 murderers, rapists and high-level criminals at Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office.
From there, he came home to St. John Parish and got a job in corrections for two years before moving on to become a patrolman, then a detective.
One of his scariest moments as a lawman was when he was working undercover in narcotics.
“I was taken to a place in Kenner, and when all these guys came out for us to make our buy, one person I went to school with was there and recognized me. But he never said a word. I’m sure I would have been dead if he had said anything,” Tregre recalled.
Tregre worked as a detective from 1990 to 1996, and then was picked by Jones to head the internal affairs department with the S.O.
“It kind of started when we had a double homicide in St. John. All this media swooped down here and the sheriff suddenly told me to go out there and talk to them. From that day on, I was the media contact,” he said.