LAPLACE, LA (WVUE) - A scathing Metropolitan Crime Commission report released Tuesday accuses St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre of giving his family sheriff's credentials by making them commissioned reserve deputies.
Police watchdog and MCC President Rafael Goyeneche said that flies in the face of state ethics and nepotism laws.
"They were awarded their credentials strictly because they are his family members and that is a violation of the nepotism laws," Goyeneche said. "That's why we called it to the sheriff's attention and during my meeting with him yesterday he acknowledged that it was a violation and he intended to rectify it and rescind their credentials."
Tregre rescinded the credentials for his son, daughter and wife, but during an interview on Tuesday he said he wasn't aware of the potential ethics violation and attempted to explain he'd given his family commissions in case of an emergency like a hurricane evacuation.
"They would be able to show that they are commissioned and related to me so they could get back into the parish. Like Hurricane Isaac, my family slept right here on the floor with me, so if there was ever a case like that they would be able to present the identification," Tregre said.
The MCC report shows, though, that Tregre commissioned his 18-year-old son, Jared, while he was still a senior in high school - something the Commission said is against SJBPSO policy, which requires that deputies graduate from high school or obtain a GED.
But it was a separate exhibit in the report that caught the attention of Edie Triche, the mother of fallen deputy Jeremy Triche, who was killed in August of 2013 alongside his fellow deputy Brandon Nielsen during a police ambush near Laplace.
The report shows a picture of Tregre with his family, including his son, Jared Tregre, who was wearing his father's sheriff's star outside of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
The group was in the capital in 2013 as part of a National Police Week, joined by other deputies and the Triche family to honor the two fallen deputies.
"They went in there and fought the battle with these people and they should've been honored, not Jared, not his son," Triche said.
But Goyeneche said the two fallen deputies weren't the only ones getting praise during the event.
"The son is wearing a badge and according to his mother's post on her Facebook account he was being thanked for his services during National Police Week in front of the victims' family in front of the fallen officer's family," Goyeneche said.
In a separate comment, posted by Tregre's wife on Facebook she wrote: "Jared got to walk around with a badge around his neck with people thanking him for the service 'he' provides, he has been" bit by the badge bug"!!!
It's a comment Goyeneche said shows the Sheriff's decision undermines the integrity of the event and disrespects the deputies killed.
"He's present when people are thanking him for his service in this, so it shows the double standard, the disregard the Sheriff has for the honor and privilege of wearing a badge like that," Goyeneche said.
But Tregre doesn't see it that way and argued his son should be allowed to wear the Sheriff's badge as long as he's around.
"He wore my badge. You see I didn't even have a badge on. I let him wear it, I wanted him to feel the pride and be proud of these men and women who died in the commission of their duties. I also wanted him to see the brotherhood of how police officers stick together. I was proud to give him my badge. What police officer wouldn't want their son or daughter, in their presence not to wear their badge," Tregre said.
Still, while Triche understands the need to give thanks to the families of law enforcement officers and the sacrifices they make, she thinks, in this case, Sheriff Tregre's son was taking credit he didn't deserve.
"Accepting the accolades from these people, it just disrespects my son. He was commissioned and the Sheriff should've taken the badge away, he shouldn't have been allowed to wear it," Triche said.
However, Tregre doubled down on his decision to let his son wear the badge adding he meant no disrespect to any of the fallen deputies.
"Some people interpret it that it's damaging and dishonorable, but there was no way on earth that was intended to do that. My son loves the police, he loves the job I'm doing, he's trying to get into the career and maybe this will change his mind or he won't become hirable," Tregre said.
The sheriff sent the following text Tuesday: "Most officers that I have spoken to today have allowed their son or daughter to wear their badge. I even put my badge on kids when I visit schools to let them see police officers are regular people. I earned my badge and he wore it in my presence not anywhere else and he will wear it again if I die on duty or not."
He added that the report may hinder his son from landing a job with the Louisiana State Police, and he admitted that was likely because of his actions to give him a commission as a teenager.