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Jefferson County Undersheriff brings law enforcement agencies to the table

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Since July, law enforcement officers in Jefferson County have been meeting once a month to share information and ideas surrounding recent cases and trends in the area.

The discussions are the brainchild of Jefferson County Undersheriff Paul W. Trudeau.

“When I worked the road, I would come across another law enforcement agency working almost the same case and we would talk over what’s going on,” he said.

According to Mr. Trudeau, that experience provided the inspiration to start the meetings, which focus on a different topic every month and provide officers from local, state and federal agencies an opportunity to network and discuss strategies for combating all manner of crime.

During last month’s meeting, the main topic of discussion was commercial vehicle law.

Though it may sound trivial at first, Mr. Trudeau said that large commercial vehicles traveling through small villages are a common complaint, especially since the repeated wear and tear on village roads by heavy trucks can cause significant damage over time.

During the meeting, officers heard from a state trooper who specialized in commercial vehicle enforcement.

Steven C. Wood, police chief of the villages of Black River and Evans Mills, said the meetings are “a good way to get some good information.”

The meetings are not open to the public because officers sometimes discuss active cases. However, “It’s not a secret handshake meeting where you have to have a secret password,” Mr. Trudeau said.

But he said he would consider holding meetings where the public could be involved.

“That’s a possibility,” he said. “This is all in the early stages.”

Mr. Trudeau said the meetings often are attended by more than 20 people from agencies ranging from state police to customs and border patrol.

A representative from the U.S. Coast Guard even attended a meeting, according to Watertown police Capt. Cheryl A. Clark.

“It gives us some idea of resources that we don’t have that they have or that we might have that they don’t have. It’s a back and forth,” Capt. Clark said.

She said the discussions also provide an opportunity to network with colleagues so police agencies know whom to call in the villages.

“They’ve been helpful,” she said.

The key seems to be the relaxed atmosphere and the face-to-face interactions among officers.

“Computers are great, but I don’t care how far we come with technology, nothing takes the place of a face-to-face meeting,” Mr. Trudeau said.

Paying for refreshments out of his own pocket, Mr. Trudeau endeavors to put officers at ease and create an environment different from a police academy lecture hall or a briefing room.

At the end of the meetings, Mr. Trudeau asks officers what topics they want to discuss in the future. The consensus generally sets the agenda.

“It’s not all about the Sheriff’s Department; it’s about law enforcement throughout the county,” Mr. Trudeau said.

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