Editorial: School District, Sheriff’s Office win by teaming up for student safety

Published 12:03 am Saturday, October 13, 2018

St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre recently told School Board members his department does not want to see children arrested or placed in handcuffs.

“Every chance we get, depending on the severity of the situation, my officers will administer a written summons for court appearances,” Tregre said. “I am not in the business of making the schools a police state. We will be there; there will be a presence. But at the same time, we’re going to let the school, the principal and the staff handle the majority of the disciplinary issues unless it is a matter that we just have to get involved in.”

Tregre delivered his remarks at the most recent St. John Parish School Board meeting, when addressing a new agreement between the public school district and law enforcement that defines and authorizes a uniformed police presence on local school campuses.

The powers that be feel this effort promotes peace by using a visible police presence to act as a deterrent to illegal activity or violence.

Under the agreement approved unanimously in September, four deputies would be assigned to East St. John High School, one to the District’s alternative school and a sixth would act as a roving officer, visiting the School District’s other East Bank and West Bank campuses.

Tregre said it is his plan to eventually have a school resource officer in every school in St. John Parish, adding he cannot complete that task yet due to manpower issues.

“(The School Board) approved six, but I will do everything I can to have some officers who will visit the schools daily, unscheduled and walk through the halls on both sides of the river to make sure there is a strong presence,” Tregre said.

The sheriff said police presence is part of making sure authorities are doing everything they can to have safety and order in the school system.

We know our students already struggle to navigate the challenges of a changing world marketplace while simultaneously dealing with the perils of social media and its short- and long-term impact.

The added stress of feeling unsafe in school is too much to deal with while pursuing an education.

We applaud all efforts to ensure the safety of our parish’s students.