Brentwood’s Liberty High School students and staff have been seeing a new school resource officer (SRO) throughout their halls lately.
Officer Jackie Veillette, a 14-year veteran of the Brentwood Police Department, has taken over following Officer Chris Friedmann’s retirement in December. Friedmann served as SRO at Liberty for five years.
Veillette graduated from the Sacramento Police Academy, then spent a year with the Sacramento Police Department before her 14 years in Brentwood — most recently working in investigations, before returning to patrol in May 2018. She looks forward to a new challenge as an SRO.
“When I was an investigator, I was primarily involved with sexual assaults, missing person, child abuse cases,” Veillette said. “We interviewed kids and we’d leave. We never got to connect with kids and learn how to be a resource for them. I always felt like — because I never went back and talked to them after the case was over — that part was missing. So it’s kind of what I’m hoping for here ... If somebody needs something or they have questions from an officer, to be a resource for them and help them out.”
With about a month on the job, Veillette, whose responsibility is to Liberty as well as Independence High School, already sees an ability to make a difference.
“I would probably say my biggest fear would be not being able to help someone who came to me,” she said. “Over the past month, I have counseled more students than I have in my 15-year career. Students are coming to me more and more for guidance or to ask me questions, and I would just hate to not be able to help a student or let them down.”
Aside from her goal of being there for students, Veillette hopes to be a resource for their parents, too.
“My main goal is to let the parents know that we are here and we’re always available, not only for police matters,” she said. “I think sometimes people are afraid to talk to us, or they don’t think it’s our job. Even if they’re struggling ... and need parent advice, or where to go for resources for their kids, don’t be afraid to ask.”
Friedmann, who spent nearly eight years with the Brentwood Police Department, and 17 years with Stockton Police Department, looks back on his career with pride, but is ready to enjoy retirement.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Friedmann said. “It was time to hang up the spurs.”
His favorite part, by far, of being an SRO, he says, was his relationship with students.
“I don’t think there is (another) job in law enforcement where you actually see the fruits of your labor,” he said. “Just interacting and talking with the kids on their level, giving them someone who listened to them, I think, was the most rewarding thing ... Seeing a kid that may be going down that wrong path ... you talk to him or her for a little bit and then see them kind of redirect their lives in a positive manner.”
Friedmann, who trained Veillette in December, thinks she will be a positive addition to the school climate at Liberty and looks forward to seeing her succeed.
“She’s very personable; she’s very smart,” he said. “It’s good to have a broad range of experiences going into the role of an SRO, and I think that Jackie possesses those qualities. She’s been a detective. She’s been a patrol officer. She’s had some other collateral duties under her belt. The school district across the board is very, very receptive to the role of an SRO. I mean, we’re not there to arrest kids. We’re there as a resource for the kids to help them through teenagehood. I think the most important thing for any SRO to do is just to listen to the kids.”