There’s a new “kid’ on the campus of Oakdale schools and he looks a bit different than the rest of the student body.
Earlier this spring, Officer Guillermo Manriquez was assigned the newly appointed School Resource Officer for Oakdale Joint Unified School District. The Riverbank High School Class of 1987 alum has been a sworn officer with Oakdale Police Department for close to 19 years.
“I just like helping people,” Manriquez said in response to pursing a career behind the badge.
Prior to becoming a member of the OPD force, Manriquez spent five years as a Campus Monitor. He shared that he’s pleased with the opportunity to now serve the community in the role of SRO and looks forward to creating a bond with the students.
Coming mid-year, however, has found him just working out a schedule which suits each campus and its student body best.
“I try to go to all the schools every day,” he said. “I try to make myself visible so the kids get used to me.”
Manriquez shared that one challenge he’s working at conquering is the fear of law enforcement he sees in some of the younger students’ faces. He noted the age of social media, negative news influence, as well as misinformation as key proponents to the student apprehension.
“I want them to not be afraid of us and me,” he said. “To come up to me and try and resolve that fear.”
In addition to building a healthy bond with the students, the SRO also has an area where he wants to make an impact on the schools – bullying.
“It’s just amazing what kids put out there and the messages they send,” he openly stated, adding that the problem appears most prevalent in seventh and eighth grade students.
“They’re unbelievable,” he stated of messages and words being said by students. “But in general they’re good kids, but there have to be enforced consequences for there to be a solution.
“I see the effects it has on a child,” Manriquez continued of bullying. “Plus the effects of the bully who thinks if I can do this to him, I can do it to someone else. My way is there should be consequence. If you want to act like a big man, we’ll treat you like a big man.”
As the SRO has made his travels through the six campuses, he’s enjoying the relationship and recognition he has begun to gain at the varying sites. Known by the students as Officer G Man, Manriquez allows them to check out his squad car, as well as talks to the students about the varying gear he must wear to be effective at his job.
“We’re here to help them and how can we help them if they’re afraid to come talk to us,” he pointed out.
Though the summer break is right around the corner, Manriquez is pleased with the work he has done so far.
“The schools keep me busy in a good way,” he concluded. “But it’s a big difference from being on the street and being a street cop. Just the curiosity of a child. The questions they ask. I go home thinking how did that kid come up with that? It’s actually a lot of fun.”