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.