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Tregre: Improving our ability to protect & serve

On Friday, June 26th, 2020, I was sworn in as sheriff of St. John Parish for my 3rd term. My official first day back to work was July 1, 2020. When I was first elected, the long-time sheriffs in Louisiana warned me that it would take at least six years to get the department to understand and believe in my vision, mission and goals for this department. They were absolutely correct!

I am proud to announce that I have been successful with achieving my original campaign goals. Things like CPR certification of the entire department, random drug testing policies for the entire department, and a Citizens Review Board have all been implemented for several years now. Since the onset of our Citizens Academy, graduates have a greater understanding of how and why we do what we do. Therefore, graduates have been allowed to sit in on disciplinary board hearings of officers under review. I have also started utilizing graduates to sit in on hiring/interview boards.

When I became sheriff, I implemented an internal email server. And now it is policy that certain members of the department receive details via email and/or text message within minutes of any emergency or serious incident, whether they are on or off duty. The SJSO phone app designed during my administration provides citizens with real-time alerts of police presence in certain areas of the parish.

My commitment to training has not wavered in the past eight years. Due to current events, departments are now heavily scrutinized about how much training or lack of training an officer has when involved in a crisis. The phrase, “failure to train” are words that I take personally as sheriff. That is why I am committed to training the members of SJSO. The Lloyd B. Johnson Training Facility being built on Cambridge Drive will be instrumental and invaluable in the years to come for members of SJSO and the entire region.

Stop the Bleed training and the use of Narcan in the event of possible drug overdose have also been implemented. Without a doubt we at SJSO have been saving lives that have never been made public.

But if there is one thing that will be significant and very important to all agencies in the country, that will be maintaining our community partnerships. I have said this over and over for years. Our POPS program, Distinguished Gentlemen program, Citizens Academy, dressing up officers for Halloween, Night Out Against Crime, the Annual Senior Citizens Luncheon, the Kids Fishing Camp and other programs have all been designed to maintain community relationships. It is so hard to build the public trust but so easy to lose it!

I was not a fan of using body cameras when I became sheriff eight years ago, but in light of the recent events, and the change in technology, I am committed to implementing and training our deputies on the proper use of body cameras. We currently have dash cameras in many of our marked units and over 100 crime cameras available for use in crime prevention and solving.

In closing, I mentioned in my brief Inauguration Speech, that my priorities for this third term are already outlined. Getting the Lloyd B. Johnson Training facility in LaPlace and the substation on the West Bank up and running will be monumental in improving our ability to protect and serve our citizens.

My prayer is for continued progress in our efforts to keep St. John safe.

Mike Tregre is sheriff of St. John the Baptist Parish. Reach him at m.tregre@stjohnsheriff.org.