Dec. 8 will mark the one year anniversery of another Virginia Tech tragedy. Yet one thing is clear — the Hokie nation will never forget the loss of one of its protectors, Officer Deriek Crouse.
Crouse lost his life in the line of duty on Dec. 8, 2011, while performing a routine traffic stop near Cassell Coliseum. The ensuing campus lockdown shook the Tech community. When the commotion was settled, all were devastated to hear the Tech Police Department had lost one of its own.
President Charles Steger announced on Nov. 26, that a memorial service will be held at noon on Dec. 8 to honor Crouse and his service to the Tech community. The memorial site will be in the Coliseum Lot off Washington Street and Spring Road.
The service will feature remarks by Steger, Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum, Delegate Joseph Yost, Officer Kendrah Cline, and Reverend Tommy McDearis, the chaplain for the Tech police department.
Steger also announced that a permanent memorial for Crouse will be dedicated at the end of the service.
In his open letter to the Tech community, Steger said the memorial will be made in Hokie Stone, “representing our loyalty to one another and to our Hokie Nation."
Tech’s police department still mourns Crouse’s passing, though from it they have taken on a newfound vigilance. In the wake of such random violence, the campus police force is on guard for any threat. According to VTPD officer Marshall Hamilton, even traffic stops are now a time to be on alert.
“Backing up another officer, or having a secondary officer at a traffic stop, is commonly accepted (to) do that at night time, because there’s an increased risk,” Hamilton said. “So (now), we find ourselves backing up officers during the day, where we didn’t in the past. There’s a hyper vigilance, being aware of your surroundings.”
The atmosphere of the past year, for the officers of the VTPD, has been a somber one.
“We miss our friend, we miss our coworker," Hamilton said. "He was a fellow officer, and there is that brotherhood. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him.”