Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) roots grow deep in preparing students for pulpit ministry. But, the university’s roots in training leaders for marketplace vocations and ministries are just as strong. In fact, many may be surprised to learn that Criminal Justice is one of SAGU’s largest and fastest-growing degree programs. The program launched in 2006 and through the years, the number of SAGU students in the program has grown significantly. So, one has to ask – what is driving this growth?
Most will agree that for anything great to succeed, it must be championed by a great leader. Bruce Stayments, M.A., serves as the Coordinator for SAGU’s Criminal Justice degree program. To say Stayment’s career is impressive would be quite the understatement.
Over the span of his law enforcement career, approximately 35 years with 25 spent in full-time policing, Stayments has served in numerous roles, including:
- International Police Advisor to Afghanistan National Police Force, US State Department program, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement in Kabul, Afghanistan.
- Chief of Police for the Town of Elmira, NY.
- Former Death Investigator for County Medical Examiner’s Program in Chemung County, New York
He has also received numerous policing awards:
- International Association of Chiefs of Police and Parade Magazine’s Officer of the Year
- Special Citation for Community Policing Program: Dad School Foundation for Improvement of Justice’s Community Policing Award
- Parenting Principle National Father of the Year 1999 from the National Fatherhood Initiative, Washington, DC
His most recent accomplishment is one that he states he has been working on for over a decade. With over 6,477 hours of training, Bruce Stayments has received a Master Peace Officer (MPO) Proficiency Certification. This certification, awarded by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), is given to individuals who have undergone the most intensive and laborious law enforcement training by the state. It is the highest recognition in regards to training and years of experience that a Texas Police Officer can receive.
“I am a lifelong learner,” said Stayments. “It was a goal that I just had to achieve.”
After 25 years of service in New York, Bruce and his wife, Jann, made the move to Waxahachie, Texas, in 2008. When they arrived, Bruce led the Law Enforcement Explorer Group and later became certified as a Texas Police Officer in order to serve as Chaplain for the Sheriff’s Office in Ellis County, Texas. Stayments served as Chaplain and Captain of the Reserves for almost 10 years for the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office. Just a few months ago, Stayments transitioned to serving as a part-time Police Officer.
“I’m just called to be a police officer,” he said. “I mean, I am a sheepdog. I’m here to protect and help people. And as long as I’m doing that I’m a happy camper. And, to think that I can inspire others to do the same, or be involved in the criminal justice system has been most gratifying.”
While Stayments’ MPO certification and career in law enforcement are certainly noteworthy, some of his greatest professional feats were not on patrol or Afghanistan – they were in a classroom. While serving in various capacities of law enforcement, Stayments has been teaching. For over thirty years, he has raised up hundreds of the next generation of law enforcement.
“You know, I was never the greatest student myself but I remember having professors that believed and invested in me. If I can be that kind of professor to these students, then I am doing my job.”
Stayments believes that his involvement in local law enforcement has also helped SAGU’s Criminal Justice program thrive. In Texas, different police departments often work together for training purposes and through Stayments’ ongoing training, he has been able to network and build relationships with police officers from all over the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Stayments even received the opportunity to go through SWAT School, a 60-hour training course offered by the SWAT Academy of Texas. “That was a crowning highlight of my training career,” says Stayments. “All of this knowledge, this training, is helpful to me as a teacher because that’s just one more thing I can pass on to my students.”
Numerous SAGU Criminal Justice graduates are serving in various law enforcement agencies throughout the country. Many of whom credit much of their success to the efforts of Bruce Stayments and his investment in not just their careers but the development of their character.
“Studying under Bruce Stayments is what truly prepared me to be a great working law enforcement officer.” – Officer Kirk White, SAGU alumnus and Red Oak, Texas, Police Officer of the Year (2019).
“I’m proud to be a teacher,” says Stayments. “The best part of it all is connecting with students-finding out what they’re all about, what they’ve been through and what brought them here.”
“All that I am, and any success I’ve achieved I owe to the grace and goodness of God. He has given me strengths and abilities, opportunities, and connections – to Him be all the glory and honor. ”
Over decades of service, Stayments is certain that he has found his calling and is right where God wants him to be. Having discovered his purpose, it is no surprise that one of his greatest passions is helping students find theirs. “I get to be a part of that. I can pour into their lives and inspire them to be all that they can be.”
Stayments is excited about the future of the Criminal Justice program with plans for workshops with criminal justice practioners and criminal justice students on SAGU’s campus. He also mentioned a potential virtual training system in the near future for violence de-escalation, physical force continuum, and firearms simulation.
“It’s always exciting to be part of what God is doing in people’s lives,” he said. “To think He uses me to be a part of that is what fuels me! I’m going to be doing this until He changes my direction!”
Want to learn more about SAGU’s Criminal Justice degree program? Click here.