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Second Virginia Tech tragedy should be a wake up call

Published: Thursday, December 8, 2011

Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08

Deriek Crouse Virginia Tech police officer

AP Photo

This photo released by Virginia Tech shows police officer Deriek Crouse, who was shot and killed Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, during a routine traffic stop on the school's Blacksburg, Va. campus. Crouse, a 39-year-old Army veteran and married father of five, joined the campus police force about six months after the 2007 massacre, the school said. He previously worked at a jail and a sheriff's department.

Second only to places of worship, schools are meant to be the safest environments for those inside. It is where we learn, where we grow, where we socialize, and where we escape the responsibilities and complications of work and home. No student or staff member should ever question their well being while inside the walls of an academic institution.

However, tragedy has struck for the second time at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va.

39-year-old Virginia Tech Police Officer Deriek Crouse was shot and killed Thursday, Dec. 8 on the school's campus by 22-year-old  Ross Truett Ashley. Area police are unaware of the Truett's motive or any prior relationship between the himself and Crouse.

Truett was not a Virginia Tech student, and that this appears to be an isolated incident, coming nearly five years after the first Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007, which left 33 dead.

While thankfully this tragedy resulted in only two deaths as opposed to more, it is a disheartening reminder of several operational inadequacies in public schools and universities.

It is impossible to anticipate every act of violence and terror, but if more strenuous precautions and procedures were taken in wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy, perhaps this most recent one could have been avoided.

A deeper evaluation of the student population and heightened security tactics may appear to be a nuisance or a waste of money, but when a school begins to resemble a battlefield, such measures becomes necessary.

All school campuses, especially those who have already experienced acts of violence, should be equipped with metal detectors, X-ray machines, multiple security cameras, and should have checkpoints staffed with more than just one police officer. Individuals exhibiting social withdrawal or abnormal behavior should be monitored and paid close attention to.

Sounding more and more like an airport? That's because the dangers are becoming more and more similar. For the all the flippant expenses the U.S. wastes taxpayer money on, school security seems above all to be the most reasonable.

The 1999 tragedy at Columbine that left 15 dead, the 2011 Oslo Massacre that left 77 dead, and the tragedies at the Virginia Tech are all solemn reminders that areas of public gathering and institutions of learning demand a closer eye.

Thus, in mourning Office Crouse's death, let this tragedy alert schools and universities across the nation--for the safety of students and staff, too cautious is not cautious enough.

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Fri Dec 16 2011 11:03
In now way is this article dogging on Virginia Tech as a school, it's simply stating this tragedy should spark more safety measures. It also cites the importance to maintaining higher security at ALL schools. If you'd rather schools no take additional safety measures, that's all you. Also, your clever comparison of Virginia Tech crime stats is going up against TWO YEARS of DePaul crime numbers. Maybe you should check YOUR facts.
Fri Dec 16 2011 09:25
1. it clearly mentions that the shooter was not a tech student
2. Obviously DePaul will have high crime number....its in the third largest city in the country....
Michelle S.
Thu Dec 15 2011 17:23
You need to get your facts straight. This was not a Virginia Tech student and is not at all similar to the April 16, 2007 campus shootings. The person was not mentally disturbed like Cho was. He was a student at Radford University who had never exhibited signs of mental illness. For reasons unknown, something made him come to Blacksburg and shoot at the cop.

You suggest checkpoints and metal detectors would help. How, exactly, would that help a student who comes onto campus by foot and opens fire in a parking lot? Should all 30,000 people who study and work at Tech be subject to those regulations? Tech is a very safe school, probably safer than many others. The problem is that people like you sensationalize everything and make it seem worse than it really is.

Look at the security system compared to other schools in the nearby area. Students at Tech and other subscribers receive text alerts, phone calls, emails, tweets and desktop alerts. Additionally, every classroom is equipped with message boards that notify members of alerts and give instructions and there are sirens outside. The first shorts were fired seconds before 12:30, and by 12:36 the entire campus knew the problem and went on lockdown. Police from all surrounding towns and counties descended upon campus and swept buildings in search of shooters. Students were even patted down to make sure they were not the guilty ones. How does this compare to other schools? Radford, James Madison, and almost every other school only have text alerts. No other schools have the classroom alert system or a response time speed as good at Tech's.

And there is no evidence that suggests Tech is less safe than other schools. The problem is that if anything bad ever happens, people are immediately reminded of the 2007 tragedy. The story gets sensationalized. It is very similar to the airline industry in the wake of September 11, 2001. After the terrorist attacks, if anything remotely out of the ordinary happens, people only remember that thousands of people died. It makes them more scared. Tech is no different. It is not less safe, people only perceive it to be so. If you look at data based on Clery Act reports from 2008-2010 (2011 data not yet available) for crimes on and off campus, data supports this.

Virginia Tech:16 sex offenses, 2 robberies, 14 aggravated assaults, 146 burglaries, 12 motor thefts, 5 weapons possessions referral/arrests
DePaul 2008-2010: 27 sex offenses, 95 robberies, 82 aggravated assaults, 168 burglaries, 77 motor thefts, 8 weapons possessions referrals/arrests
I think I would rather go to Tech.

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