Tragedy shows strength of police brotherhood

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 18, 2012



LAPLACE – As word spread throughout the region that police officers were shot dead and wounded in St. John the Baptist Parish Thursday, law enforcement from across several parishes descended on LaPlace to offer condolences and assist in any way possible.

“We are a brotherhood equal to that of the military,” said St. John Sheriff Mike Tregre. “The response from other agencies was exceptional, and I cannot express my thanks enough for what they have done for my department.”

In addition to State Police, which is handling the investigation, authorities from St. Charles, Jefferson and Ascension parishes aided in the search for suspects.

Jefferson Parish deputies are also standing guard at the hospital where two suspects are receiving treatment.

Agencies from the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain also offered assistance. Slidell Police sent at least 11 officers from K-9 and SWAT units to the scene. Mandeville Police sent officers to assist in traffic control in St. John.

St. James Sheriff Willy Martin said the cooperative nature is just another part of the job.

“St. John Parish is my neighbor,” Martin said. “It is not uncommon for officers to become overwhelmed, especially during an incident like what happened Thursday. Your best bet for help is always your closest neighbor.”

Martin said there is often an understanding among neighboring agencies that says if help is needed, there is never any hesitation to ask and to offer.

“You get to know each other,” Martin said. “Many area sheriffs train together, and there is a sense of camaraderie.”

Martin said Thursday’s incidents likely took a major toll on Tregre, who has been at the helm for less than two months.

“It is a hard fact to swallow, but Mike is a good guy and a good sheriff,” Martin said. “These things are not supposed to happen to you when you are fresh on the job.”

Martin said he and other sheriffs who came to LaPlace Thursday offered advice to Tregre in an effort to help him make the decisions he needed to make regarding positioning deputies and resources.

“Everybody comes and wants to help, and it comes down to directing them where they are needed,” Martin said.

“Mike had a lot of decisions to make and a lot of people coming at him. We just did what we had to do to help,” he added.