Criminal Justice

PCC graduates and students use their training in remarkable ways. Read about how God is using them in their field of study.

PCC’s criminal justice major gives students practical training from a Christian perspective. Graduates work in 40 states at various companies, as well as federal agencies like Homeland Security, the Secret Service, and the Federal Air Marshals Service. Graduates have also worked internationally at Her Majesty’s Prison in the Bahamas and in the Royal Canadian Mountain Police.

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Chris Sawyer ’05
  • Deputy Specialist, Field Operations Division, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (VA)
  • Police Academy Instructor

Chris’s interviewing officer was so impressed with his character and demeanor that he contacted PCC to hire more criminal justice graduates. Later, Nate Ferguson, Sarah Gerlach, Josh Lowder, Aaron Marks, Randy Stackpole, and Curt Ulmer (’05 grads) were hired.

“I handle a wide range of police services, including traffic enforcement, service and 911 calls, patrol, etc. I also do a lot of training and teaching in defensive tactics, tazer, and firearms.

“There are lots of applicants and strong competition for law enforcement jobs. My education at PCC gave me an advantage. PCC gave me a strong foundation for learning and understanding laws, and taught me the theory and motives behind juvenile delinquency, crime, etc. The most valuable lesson I learned was to never lower my guard, and always pay attention and observe my surroundings.”

Joshua Davis ’04

JoshuaDavisPrelaw

  • Detective, Richardson Police Department (TX),
    Operational Support Unit
  • Awards: Officer of the Year (’09)

Before becoming a detective, Josh served on night patrol, where he worked with the SWAT team and K-9 division, made several high-profile robbery arrests, and worked in conjunction with the FBI and U.S. Marshall’s Office.

“I thank God for the opportunity He gave me to attend PCC. Through the classes and teachers, I believe I received the best criminal justice education possible. The education and study habits I received at PCC played a major role during police academy and helped me graduate as salutatorian of my class.

“God has truly blessed me with the opportunity to work with the Richardson Police Department. When I first applied, the background investigator was extremely surprised at the amount of ‘religion’ (as he called it) involved in my life. He initially thought I was too sheltered, but the Chief thought differently, and I began my career in July ’04.

“One thing I have learned as a police officer is the great value of human life. God gives me security each day I report to work, and no matter what happens, He always brings me through any situation I can’t handle alone.”

Tim Elwell ’90

Joshua Davis

  • Sergeant, Riverside Sheriff’s Department (CA), Special Enforcement Team
  • Awards/Honors: Medal of Merit (’07); Medal of Courage (’99)

“The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department provides police services to the cities of Perris, Menifee, and Canyon Lake. I am currently a supervisor on our Special Enforcement Team, which is responsible for street-level crimes such as narcotics, auto thefts, burglaries, and vandalism.

“PCC’s program gave me the general knowledge that put me ahead of many others during the application process. Being able to clearly write documents and articulate facts verbally during interviews placed me head-and-shoulders above many other applicants.”

Daniel Moore ’05

Daniel Moore

  • Crime scene investigator, Escambia County Sheriff’s Office (FL)

He sketches, photographs, videotapes, and processes crime scenes for fingerprints and trace evidence, then collects and preserves that evidence for court purposes.

“PCC gave me a head start entering the crime scene unit since my job consists almost entirely of what I learned in criminal investigation class. PCC’s criminal justice major stands out because of Christ-centered material.”

Scott McCracken ’02

Scott McCracken

  • Special Agent, United States Secret Service

“My current responsibilities are to investigate federal violations of law, specifically counterfeit currency violations, financial fraud, U.S. Treasury check fraud, and Internet fraud. My responsibilities also include providing protection for individuals covered under U.S. law. The Secret Service represented what I thought was one of the most trusted law enforcement agencies in the world due to their role as protector of its most influential leaders. God led me to this position through the positive influence of a professor at PCC.

“PCC’s program was important because the high standards ingrained an attention to detail that has proven to be important in everything I do on the job. Experience is crucial, and the two internships that I participated in as a student proved to shape the direction of my career. Trust is the cornerstone of the Secret Service. PCC’s Bible-based program provided a foundation to build the character necessary to be deemed trustworthy.”

Captain Justin Powell ’00

Captain Justin Powell

  • Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Officer, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

“I am a Military Police Officer, acting as the Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Officer at Camp Pendleton, California. The best part of my job is leading and teaching Marines.

“The criminal justice program at PCC gave me an edge in attaining the Military Police Officer Occupational Specialty over my peers by having what is considered a uniquely-qualified background to hold the position.

“The criminal justice professors were the most valuable part of my training. In the last 10 years, whether during combat operations in Iraq or training stateside, I have used something from their tutelage, wisdom, and advice on almost a daily basis. Whether teaching Marines the importance of discipline, or teaching Marines in CJ 101 Introduction to Criminal Justice for Central Texas College, I have passed on the knowledge they invested in me each day.”

Stephen Keyes ’06

Stephen Keyes

  • State Trooper, Florida Highway Patrol

“When I came to PCC in 2001, I felt that God was leading me into the field of Criminal Justice. But after my first year, I began to doubt God’s calling for my life. I had the misguided feeling that I could not be used by God unless I made myself into something He was ‘able’ to use. I studied in the pre-Med field for two years; I felt that God could certainly use a doctor instead of a law enforcement officer. After two years of God working in my life through personal devotions, chapel messages, church services, revivals, and the counsel of godly friends, I returned to the place to which I had been called.

“As I neared the end of my college education, God used a Criminal Justice Forum conducted by Corporal Ben Glass of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) to place a desire in my life to work in the area of traffic safety. I applied for the Patrol at the end of 2005. In March of 2006, I found out that I had not been selected for the next Basic Recruit Class with FHP. I was confused over this ‘bump’ in the road. Through this event, however, God taught me that his perfect calling also has perfect timing. I surrendered every aspect of my future career to him at a church service during my last semester. God led me to apply for a staff position at the College. When I graduated in May of 2006, I began working for the Print Shop (where I had worked throughout college). For two years, I was able to serve in the ministry that had so deeply impacted my life.

“During my time on staff, God led me to reapply for the FHP. I followed His guidance. In June of 2008, I was selected to attend the 116th Basic Recruit Class. I served as a Squad Leader during the academy and received the Public Speaking Award for the class. I graduated in December of 2008 and was assigned to work in the Pensacola District. I now know that God can best use a man who is a 'God-made man' and not a ‘self-made man.’

“The academic excellence promoted by the faculty of PCC prepared me for the challenges of the FHP Academy and work as a trooper. Additionally, I was taught by the members of the CJ Faculty that I should do the work of a Law Enforcement Professional to the best of my ability in order to honor God, not to for personal gain.”

Justin Keller ’04

JustinKellerPrelaw

  • Patrol Officer, Indianola Police Department (IA)
  • Awards: Officer of the Year (’09)

Justin willingly served as acting sergeant during his sergeant’s military deployment in Iraq. He assumed the new responsibilities knowing he would resume patrol officer duties when the sergeant returned.

“As a criminal justice major, the knowledge I gained at PCC was extremely beneficial in preparing me for the police academy and for being an officer. As the youngest officer in the department and with only two years’ experience, I was promoted over officers who were older and had much more experience.

“I’ve learned that being a police officer can distort one’s perspective of the world. Constantly dealing with ‘bad people’ in negative circumstances can sow a pessimistic outlook on life. But reminding myself of God’s grace has led me into some great discussions with people at the end of their rope with nowhere to look but up. As a Christian in law enforcement, the opportunities to be a shining testimony for Christ are endless.”

Peter George ’97

Peter George

  • Detective, Tucson City Police Department (AZ)

“My education at PCC was one of the key foundations for my career in law enforcement. PCC’s Criminal Justice program taught me to turn to God daily in my career and in everything I do. My classmates and I were taught to hold our standards high and answer to God first, knowing if we maintained His holy standards, we could maintain those of our police chiefs and commanders.

“PCC’s criminal justice program also taught me to balance my profession with my family and my faith. Our classes were bathed in as much Scripture as possible which helped us understand our calling by God and the importance of using God’s help and power to protect us spiritually and physically.

“The fact is, I couldn’t be a Christian professional in law enforcement without the foundation I received at PCC.”

Matt Vasel ’07

Matt Vasel

  • Patrol Officer, Merrillville Police Department (IN)

Matt Vasel ('07) recently received Officer of the Year for his work at the Merrillville Police Department (IN).

After graduating from PCC with a degree in criminal justice, Matt moved to Indiana and applied for jobs at several police departments before being hired by Merrillville to start working the streets. Now, as a patrolman first class, Matt said, “You never know what will happen. I’ve been to calls ranging from domestic battery and fights to fatal accidents and homicides–not always calls you want to go on—always new challenges, and new things to learn.” In a March interview, he said, “You do what the job requires.” Matt also serves as a field-training officer (FTO) training newly hired officers and works on the accident investigation team.

PCC’s criminal justice program prepared Matt for his everyday responsibilities. “The papers I wrote throughout college definitely helped me with all the reports I write every day,” he said. He also appreciated the Senior Criminal Justice Seminar. “It helped determine the ethics that help me make the right decision even when things get tough.”

Matt produced Merrillville’s highest patrol activity for the year with 177 arrests, 1,046 traffic citations, and 1,111 calls for service. Add to that his positive attitude and excellent performance, and it’s no wonder he was named Officer of the Year at the annual Outstanding Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Officers Awards Ceremony in March.

While fulfilling his responsibilities, Matt always counts on his faith. “When important decisions are necessary or when a call goes bad,” Matt said, “I rely on God to get me through.”

Brian Wright ’94

Brian Wright

  • Captain of Support Services, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office (VA)
  • Selected to attend the FBI National Academy Session 229 (Quantico, VA) from April–June 2007
  • Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice Education: University of Virginia
  • Awards: Project Lifesaver National Mission medal

“The education that I received at PCC gave me a familiarity with the law enforcement work environment and terminology that helped me learn the necessary job skills quickly. PCC also helped me develop right priorities (God first, family second, then my job…after that everything else falls into place). I learned many valuable lessons from the PCC faculty that I still use daily, including developing a strong work ethic and having a godly testimony in the workplace.

“I now have 20 years with my Office and look forward to what God has in store for me in the future. My prayer is that He will continue to use me as a witness in the criminal justice field.”

Joshua Fisher ’01

Joshua Fisher

  • Special Agent, United States Secret Service

“As a special agent, my daily responsibilities include investigating financial crimes, including counterfeit currency, credit cards, checks, and identification documents; bank, wire, and access device fraud; and computer crimes which include network intrusions or ‘hacking’ cases. I worked as an officer with the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service for 3 years then became a special agent, the position I've held for the last 6 years.

“The most enjoyable part to me is the ability to help the victims of crimes, whether it’s an individual citizen who’s been the victim of an Internet scam or a large corporation who has suffered the loss of a substantial amount of money as a result of a network intrusion.

“PCC’s criminal justice program provided me with the broad overview of the life of a law enforcement officer, touching on the skills needed to survive as a patrol officer as well as revealing the qualities needed to be a leader or someone in a management position.

“The most valuable instruction I received was regarding communication. Clear, concise communication is essential during the investigation of a case. This includes obtaining the victim’s statements, interviewing the witnesses and suspects, documenting the findings in a report, and ensuring the facts are accurately presented and understood in all judicial proceedings.”

Jeremy Brewer ’99
  • Trooper, Michigan State Police
  • Awards: for bravery, distinguished service, and valor ('05)

On Feb. 26, 2005, Jeremy joined officers at the scene of a fire in a 5-story senior citizen apartment building. Without a respirator, Jeremy entered the building and searched for trapped residents. He and another officer were credited with rescuing 15 from the fire. For his heroic actions, Jeremy received awards for bravery, distinguished service, and valor from various organizations.

Tyler Ingle ’14

Tyler Ingle

Depending on the time of year, Tyler Ingle (’14) could be up at 2:30 a.m. monitoring duck hunting, putting in late hours patrolling waterways, or teaching boating or gun safety classes. “As a game warden, I have been entrusted to enforce the laws and to protect the wildlife and fishing resources of North Carolina,” Tyler said. “I take this very seriously. Game wardens are the last line of defense against people taking more than their limits of wildlife.”

When the alumnus left his small town in North Carolina to attend PCC, some questioned why he would move that far from home for college. But Tyler knew God had led him, and he was determined to learn all he could. He said, “I remember receiving my first semester schedule. I thought, How am I going to be able to get all this done? Well, long story short, I did.”

Ingle

Tyler, a criminal justice graduate, recalls walking into freshman speech class and doubting he would ever use those skills. Little did he know that one day he would address audiences of three to four hundred people at a time, make TV appearances, teach classes, and comfort family members who had lost a loved one in a boating or hunting accident. “I had no idea that class would prepare me for my job the most,” he said. “The Lord has a sense of humor, and as a game warden, I do public speaking all the time. Looking back, it is amazing how God used PCC to step by step get me out of my comfort zone.”

Now, Tyler uses that same grit and determination he used to complete his degree to tackle his job each day. Every day is an adventure for the young game warden. “I go to work facing the unknown each day, but the reward is that each day is never the same,” he said.

Ingle

“My favorite part of my job is that I can influence people’s lives. I meet so many different people from all different types of backgrounds. I have spoken with people in the North Carolina legislator’s building all the way to kids in kindergarten. It amazes me that as a game warden I get to do that!”

As a Christian, Tyler’s faith is as much a part of his life as his identity as a wild game officer. “I have seen that the Lord has used me to help people in some of the worst times in their lives,” he said. “God puts Christians in unique positions to be used of Him. As a game warden, I have had the opportunity to pray with folks down on a river bank while I was working.”

If you happen to pass through North Carolina someday, you might just spot Officer Ingle traversing the woods or on a boat patrolling the waterways. But one thing is certain: “I am proud to serve the citizens of North Carolina and protect the wildlife resources for future generations to enjoy,” Tyler said.

Mitchell Szydlowski ’95

Mitchell Szydlowski

  • PCC’s first criminal justice graduate with United States Secret Service

Mitch Szydlowski applied to the U.S. Secret Service during his senior year at PCC. After a 15-month process of interviews, medical exams, and background checks, he became a Uniformed Officer at the White House. Later he passed the Treasury Enforcement Agent Exam to become a Special Agent and was reassigned to Detroit, Michigan. Responsibilities ranged from investigating financial crimes of fraud and embezzlement to assisting temporary protective teams assigned to national and foreign heads of state. He has traveled to over 30 states and 7 foreign countries, protecting leaders from Israel, Nigeria, and the Philippines. In 2002, Mitch returned to Washington, D.C., with his family. The next step for Mitch will be as a member of a protective team assigned to current or former presidents, vice presidents, and their families.

Although every day is an adventure, Mitch is enjoying his career and trusting God to continue to guide his path.

Eric Haines ’93

Eric Haines

  • Commander, Escambia County Sheriff’s Office (Pensacola, FL)
  • Master’s in Public Administration: University of West Florida
  • First PCC graduate employed as a deputy at Escambia County Sheriff’s Office
  • Awards/Honors: graduated 1st in class at police academy; Lifesaving medal; Unit citation

“As a Commander, I am over the Administrative Division, an 1,100-person department. I am responsible for human resources, training, finance, domestic security, records, civil processes, extra duty employment, communications, fleet services, recruitment, and other areas.

“I was the first graduate of PCC to be employed as a deputy at Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, the county PCC is located in. Because of that, I knew it was critical to make the best impression at this department, both for the reputation of the College and those Criminal Justice students who would come behind me. I am happy to say that several PCC graduates are now employed here, and they are all outstanding employees. I count it a privilege to still work in the same county as PCC, and I get to speak to the CJ seniors every year about interviewing skills.

“PCC’s program helped me gain a strong work ethic, learn how to adapt to a structured environment, and have the proper attitude toward authority. On top of that, I got a great education. While the core CJ classes were certainly important, the courses of English, Speech, Math, etc. have given me skills that many others in the criminal justice field don’t have. Communicating and writing are at the core of every action a police officer takes.”

Learn More

Check out PCC’s criminal justice major (bachelor of science degree or associate of science degree).