St. John sheriff speaks at town hall meeting

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 13, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

LAPLACE – The members of Rising Star Baptist Church got a chance to meet with deputies from the St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Office, address concerns about the progress of police investigations and hear details about new programs in the department at the church’s monthly town hall meeting last Thursday evening.
Sheriff Mike Tregre brought a large group of his staff to the event. He began the meeting by introducing each officer and having them briefly describe their jobs to the citizens in the audience.
Tregre also commended the officers for their hard work and service during Hurricane Isaac.
Tregre also commented on the uptick in homicides in the parish this year, as well as recent accomplishments for the department: “The tipline — I didn’t know what else to do with the rash of murders I’ve had. I’ve had five murders (Editor’s note: There has since been a sixth.) in the year 2013 already. We had six last year. We got 10 guns off the street. I celebrate that day. We’re going to solve those cases, and those weapons, I believe, will help me solve murders that have taken place already in St. John Parish. We are working hard everyday,” Tregre said.  
The sheriff went on to talk about programs that the Sheriff’s Office will consider implementing in the future.
Tregre discussed the Hundred Dollar Bill program, which will reward citizens who give valuable tips to the department that result in the collection of stolen or illegal guns. He also discussed a possible amnesty program that would give those who have outstanding debts in the parish to come into the Sheriff’s Office and pay them or sign up for a payment plan without being arrested during a designated time.
Tregre also said the department is in talks with Reserve Telecommunications to organize a monthly broadcast for the sheriff to address pertinent issues on a stand-alone television channel, similar to a State of the Union Address.
The sheriff also discussed other plans for the Sheriff’s Office, such as the goal to be paperless by July, a new barcode system for patrolling businesses, extended office hours, the recent purchase of several new electronic immobilization devices and recruiting among high school graduates. Tregre then opened up the floor for the public to address any concerns.
“During your inaguaral ceremony, you said that everyone would practice GOAT — Get Out and Talk,” said one audience member. She went on to say that Tregre should reiterate the plan to his officers  “because they hardly speak let alone talk.”
Tregre said that rudeness would not be tolerated among his staff and that his department took complaints very seriously. He advised the audience member to bring her concerns to him or his commanding staff personally to help prevent the problem.
The meeting was rounded off with quick announcements from Councilman Lucien Gauff and the Rev. Donald August and an invitation for the attendees to enjoy a helping of hot gumbo.
The next town hall meeting will take place on Thursday, April 11, at 7 p.m. at Rising Star Baptist Church.
The general meeting is set to include a wide array of public officials such as Parish President Natalie Robottom, District Attorney Tom Daley, parish school board members and councilmen.