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Black History Month: Celebrate Sheriff Mike Tregre

Full Name: Michael K. Tregre, St. John Parish Sheriff

Where are you from? Born and raised in Reserve, La.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

After graduating from ESJH in 1985, I attended Southern University for a few semesters.  I began  a job at Orleans Parish Prison in 1986.  I began my career with St. John Sheriff’s office under Sheriff Lloyd B. Johnson on February 1, 1988. I started in the jail, was transferred to the road, and then promoted to the detective bureau.  In 1996 under Sheriff Wayne L. Jones, I was promoted to Administration and became the department’s first Director of Internal Affairs. Later I was named spokesperson for the department. I spent a brief  time with the DA’s office as a DA investigator.  I worked my way up through every department at the Sheriff’s Office with the exception of communications/911 center  before deciding to enter into the election of 2011 for sheriff.

Who are some black role models you look up to, and why?    

While I can’t say that I looked up to a person that I only learned about 10 years ago, I feel like this is the time to recognize the person who is literally the first Black sheriff of St. John Parish. Colonel  James Weber became the first black sheriff of St. John the Baptist Parish in November 1876. He was elected to complete the unexpired term of Sheriff Lucian Cambre, who passed away in office.  Sheriff Weber was re-elected in 1878 and served as sheriff of St. John Parish for 20 years until November 1896.  I stand proud to walk after him,  because it was never my goal to become the first Black sheriff in Parish history, just the best one.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month is a time to recognize and learn about the accomplishments of Black people to our community, state and nation. While it is easy for a person to communicate, celebrate and be recognized for doing great things in today’s society, 100 years ago, very intelligent, patient, caring and determined Black people set a goal to make life better for people of color. And there was very little they could do to tell their story.  In this month, we tell their story to our children and grandchildren so their accomplishments can be appreciated.

Why is it important to encourage diversity?

I think that is it very important to encourage diversity in every walk of life including work, recreation and schools.   Diversity helps you to learn about, and accept the differences in each others.  When people don’t want to confront/learn differences in each other, the  concept  that we are all the same comes into the conversation.   We are not….and we need to respect those  differences, whether it is  race, gender, religion, age or political affiliation (but I am in favor or omitting political affiliation from our government).  We cannot move forward if we do not take the time to  understand what is important to each individual.

What changes would you like to see in the local community?

In our community, I would like to see more support for one another when it comes to moving this parish forward.  We often appear to be in a state of blocking/tearing one another down when it comes to progress in our community.  If this behavior does not change, we will continue to be lagging in progress and development compared to some other parishes in  the River Region.