Officers Ryan Law and Greg Thompson (University Police) attended the wake and funeral of slain Virginia Tech police officer Deriek W. Crouse in Blacksburg, Va on Monday Dec. 12. Crouse was making a routine traffic stop on the Virginia Tech campus when a student walked up to his car and shot him.
Law and Thompson responded to the appeal of University Police Chief David Dugatkin and Director of SUNY University Police David Schindler, for officers to attend the funeral. Their request was met with widespread interest from University police officers across all 64 SUNY campuses. Law and Thompson were part of a 25-officer cohort from SUNY who traveled to Virginia to represent New York state in paying their respects to the slain officer.
“When I heard of the news of Officer Crouse I had no other thoughts than to be there to support his family, police department, friends and the Virginia Tech community,” said Law.
“The SUNY presence was remarkable. With 25 SUNY Officers there, we had one of the largest groups to attend. It’s the least we could do to be there for one of our fallen brothers.”
“I have unfortunately attended five official police funerals this year,” said Thompson. “Two for SUNY officers. It has been a very bad year nationwide for police. Line-of-duty deaths are almost double the number they were the year before. When Chief Dugatkin called for volunteers, I immediately put my name in because I wanted to pay my respects to the officer’s family.”
The delegation of police officers met privately with Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum and the mother of late Officer Crouse to pay their condolences.
Officer Crouse’s mother spoke with Law and Thompson about her son’s life and job and her gratitude for our presence.
“She told us that after September 11, she had gone with her son to Ground Zero to pay her respects. She was not surprised we had come—she knew the people from New York had noticed the help we had received after those attacks,” said Thompson.
“Being at the wake and the funeral made me feel that I was part of the biggest brotherhood a job had to offer,” said Law. “Honestly, it didn’t even feel like ‘work.’ We volunteered our time for this service, to show our respects to a man, a father, a husband, a son, a brother and an officer who was out protecting the community, Virginia Tech and the staff and students.”
“We felt the need to participate as a state for our brother officer,” said Dugatkin. “It shows that the New Paltz police force is part of a larger, whole unit.”
Dugatkin expressed his gratitude to the officers for their willingness to attend the funeral on their own time.
“It is an honor to be their Chief. It means a lot to me,” said Dugatkin. “We’re all out there putting our lives on the line every day like any town or city officer. It’s wonderful to show that we are a close knit brotherhood and sisterhood who take care of each other.”