Whether it is an officer’s first year serving with the Virginia Tech Police Department — or 16th — the pending fall semester is met with strong anticipation for the return of students, employees, and visitors back to campus.

With 2020 spring and summer on-campus experiences curtailed by the COVID-19 emergency, the excitement is unmistakable right now.

Fall in Blacksburg offers police department employees a fresh opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to serving the Virginia Tech community and the setting to kick off engaging programming aimed at boosting safety and security.

For Virginia Tech’s new deputy police chief and the six new officers that recently joined the Virginia Tech Police Department, feelings of eagerness are especially amplified right now.

Tony Haga was sworn in as deputy police chief this summer following a national search. He is currently serving in his 16th year with the Virginia Tech Police and in his 24th year in law enforcement.

Haga’s extensive law enforcement career began in 1988 with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Department. He went on to attend the police academy and serve in the patrol unit.

In 1996, Haga made the jump to the private sector, working in sales and client management for seven years before joining the Virginia Tech Police Department in 2004. He served as a police officer before transitioning to the investigations unit after his appointment to detective sergeant in 2007. Haga was appointed to investigations lieutenant in 2015 and took the lead of the internationally recognized Threat Assessment Team.

Driven by a collective commitment to advance the safety, security, and well-being of the university community, the Threat Assessment Team is composed of representatives from the Virginia Tech Police Department, Student Affairs, Human Resources, Cook Counseling, Housing and Residence Life, and more. They connect regularly to evaluate referrals within the university community, nationally, and even internationally; develop case management plans; and, if necessary, establish intervention strategies. Haga and his team also routinely meet with the campus community to offer insights into the threat assessment process and build awareness around the warning signs that may precede violent activities.

Fostering strong partnerships and engagement across all corners of university in the name of safety have always been at the heart of Haga’s efforts for the past 16 years at Virginia Tech — and for that, Police Chief Mac Babb is grateful.

“Deputy Chief Haga’s passion for the safety of the university community is clearly evident. His unwavering dedication, superb ability to build relationships, and unparalleled threat assessment program have earned him tremendous respect from students and colleagues at Virginia Tech and universities and public safety agencies around the globe. We are excited that he will be leading the Virginia Tech Police Department’s Operations and Administrative divisions as deputy chief,” said Babb.

Additionally, Haga will play a critical role in developing and implementing a security strategy and coordinating the security services for all Virginia Tech campuses and programs, including those overseas.

Reflecting on his law enforcement career, Haga said, “It has been so much more than just a job. It really is a lifelong profession and an open-ended call to serve. After 24 years in the field, I always encourage new officers to treat every interaction with campus members as a chance to build relationships and trust. That has always been my motivator.”

For the six new Virginia Tech Police officers sworn in this summer, this wisdom is particularly timely.

The new officers include:

  • Brandon Hill
  • Jamal Jackson
  • Ian MacInnis
  • Lauren “Nikki” Martin
  • Eric McDearis
  • Keli Shaffer-Baker

“Before joining the department, our new officers encountered an incredibly unique and challenging police academy experience due to COVID-19. I am proud of their resilience in navigating interrupted academy schedules and adjusted curriculum to graduate strong. This quality will serve them especially well as they begin their law enforcement careers with the department,” said Babb.

Click here to learn more about the Virginia Tech Police Department and here for more information on upcoming programs. The latest information around programming will be shared on the police department’s website and in the VT Daily News.

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