Citizens Academy graduates gain new perspective

Published 4:23 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2023

LAPLACE — The St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office concluded its fifth Citizens Academy with a graduation ceremony for participants June 21, 2023 at the Lloyd B. Johnson Law Enforcement Training Center in LaPlace.

Sheriff Mike Tregre said he was pleased with the academy and grateful to commanders and other officers who worked hard to put together outstanding presentations for the participants. He offered special thanks to Officer Bernell Charles who organized the program and served as the host and facilitator.

Sheriff Tregre also thanked the citizens for attending the program, congratulated each participant as they received their graduation certificate, and gave them one final assignment before they were dismissed.

“Share what you have learned about the department with your family and friends,” he told the CA graduates. “Whenever we can, we talk to citizens about the importance of a partnership between law enforcement and the community, but it is that much more meaningful when a citizen hears it from another citizen.”

Sheriff Tregre believes that citizens who are informed about the SJSO can help enhance public safety, make informed decisions about how to protect themselves, better understand law enforcement strategies to problem solving, and better understand the importance of building relationships between law enforcement and citizens.

During the nine-week program, 20 participants had the opportunity to get an informative and interactive look behind the scenes of the sheriff’s office. Through lectures and demonstrations, they learned about the real world of law enforcement and how officers carry out their mission “To Protect and Serve” on a daily basis.

Representatives of the department’s various divisions spoke about their responsibilities and duties. Participants learned about 911 calls, community and public relations, the patrol division, K9 unit, the reserve division, the criminal investigations division, the narcotics division, SWAT, fleet management, training, information technology, internal affairs, corrections, crime scene investigations, human resources and administrative services. Fire services also were addressed.

Demonstrations such as observing canines as they locate suspects, defensive tactics, tasing and exploding entryways were among the highlights of sessions.

At their last session before graduation, the group also had the opportunity to learn about robotics in law enforcement and participate in a use-of-force simulation and discuss use-of-force issues with officers.

Sandra Lewis, CA participant, said she has a greater appreciation of the SJSO after attending the academy.

“I didn’t know there were so many different operations within the sheriff’s office, working together to keep the parish safe,” she said. “I appreciate … and thank the officers who put their life in danger every day to keep us safe.”