Southwestern Assemblies of God University students pursuing careers in criminal justice recently had the opportunity to take part in a 10-day Constitutional Heritage Tour. Along with touring national historical monuments, memorials, and museums, they received interactive training from law enforcement agencies.

According to Bruce Stayments, program coordinator for the SAGU Criminal Justice department, the purpose for this trip was to take students out of the classroom and into the places where they could potentially work.

Stayments stated that “along with the training, the purpose was to gain an appreciation for the Constitution and the laws of this country. I have shown them textbooks, videos, and lectures but to be in those places, to see it for themselves and see the Christian heritage of this country-I know that was accomplished.”

Senior criminal justice major, Matt Lighter, was one of the nine students who went on the tour.

“This trip overall was very informative and just opened my eyes to a lot of things,” Lighter said.

Lighter stated that he had always been interested in the United States Secret Service but did not feel like a future in the USSS was in the realm of possibility until the tour. Lighter was able to actually speak with an agent in the USSS outside of the White House and hear her story.

“It opened my eyes a lot — just hearing the training she did, the education she received and what she had to go through to get to that point,” said Lighter.

The tour was from July 10—19 and included travels to Washington D.C., New York City, Virginia, and Philadelphia.

Students gained valuable knowledge through lectures and simulation in the FBI Experience and the International Spy Museum. During the FBI Experience, students were informed about the process of being becoming an agent along with special services such as bomb disposal and surveillance operations. On their last day, students participated in interactive training with the Joint Task Force Empire Shield.

Joint Task Force Empire Shield is an element of the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs partly responsible for the military defense of New York City, primarily the deterrence and prevention of internal security threats.

During this session, students received firearm training, learned self-defense tactics, active shooter response drills, and even had the chance to drive military Humvees.

While students did gain valuable experience outside of the classroom, Stayments said that his favorite part of the trip was physically being in the places where history was made for our nation.

“What stood out to me about this trip was to be in the place where the Constitution was debated, to be in the bedroom of Thomas Jefferson where the Constitution was penned-it brings it all to life," he explained. "We teach Constitutional law and we talk a lot about the Founding Fathers and where law originated in this country. This trip really brought it all to life.”

A list of sites visited separated by location is included below.

Washington

Washington Monument WWII Memorial Constitution Gardens Vietnam Memorial Lincoln Memorial Korean War Memorial Ford Theater Supreme Court Library of Congress National Air and Space Museum Capital building Pentagon Tour and Memorial Museum of the Bible Holocaust Museum US Marine Corps War Memorial Philadelphia

1st US Supreme Court in Old City Hall Old Congress Hall The Liberty Bell Carpenters Hall Ben Franklin Press Christ Church Betsy Ross House Christ Church Burial Grounds (Ben Franklin’s Tomb) Declaration House (Graff House) Independence Hall New York

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Federal Hall Wall Street Trinity Church 9/11 Museum This was the department’s first Constitutional Heritage Tour but definitely not the last. Stayments said that he hopes that the trip will be offered annually to criminal justice students moving forward.

“I just came away with such a love for my students,” Stayments added. “They were so interested and inquisitive throughout the whole trip. We had such a good time together."

The Criminal Justice Tour was provided by Civitas Tours. To visit their website, visit http://civitastours.com/.

To learn more about SAGU's Criminal Justice program, visit https://www.sagu.edu/academics-home/criminal-justice.