Sheriff holds meet and greet

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 12, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre and his officers had a good turnout at their first “The Faces Behind the Sheriff’s Department” meet and greet event at PJ’s on Wednesday despite less-than-ideal weather. Six officers and a handful of clerks and emergency response personnel attended the event in addition to the sheriff.
Citizens of the parish came in to discuss many types of concerns. John Adams, along with his wife, Janet, talked with Sgt. Chip Wale about weapons and other gear, as he had recently become a member of the reserves. The officers brought in a body armor vest to display should the public have questions concerning its use.
Some came to ask about the correct procedures to follow for civil matters.
“I talked to him this morning about it too, about the lights back there at Normandy Village,” said local luminary and veteran Clayton “The Miracle Man” Jordan, 84. “The manager isn’t doing anything about it.”
Others came to observe, give tips or discuss more personal matters.
“My daughter’s house got broken into two days ago. I was telling him about it and saying that I wish I would’ve been there when the officers came because I might’ve mentioned that it would’ve been nice for one of them — my grandson wasn’t home yet, he’s 8 — to tell him it’s OK. He was really really nervous,” said Mandy Vicknair. “He said don’t worry about it, we’re having extra protection starting tonight. Plus they’re going to have a police officer talk to (my grandson). It was just so sweet.”
Both officers and residents considered the evening a success. Tregre expects an even larger turnout during the day, when people will have more time to drop in before they go to work. Tregre said he looks forward to more meet and greets in the future “on both sides of the river,” and plans to ask more businesses to set up an event.
“I feel like it was extremely successful. The community support, the feedback, introducing the citizens directly to the officers,” said Tregre. “I have surrounded myself with capable, competent, qualified officers so that you don’t necessarily have to see the sheriff for everything. Social media does work, and I plan on promoting the next one in advance if anyone would like to show up and speak to me directly, or they want to set up a meeting to speak to me confidentially, either way.”
“I think it’s a great idea for people to come and talk to the officers and the sheriff about their problems. I heard another person ask him something. He didn’t know who to go to. The sheriff did tell him exactly who to go to and what to say and all that,” said Vicknair. “So I think it’s very informative and very good for everyone to get to know the police officers. This sheriff, I feel like, really cares about the community, cares about what we feel like and wants to work with you.”
Tregre and staff are considering setting the evening meet and greet at a slightly later time so that residents have time to leave work and get through traffic. Times for the morning events have also been adjusted; the next scheduled dates are Jan. 15 and 29 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at PJ’s on Airline Highway.