Following a Career Path from SHSU to Pasadena

Brothers Sgt. Matt and Assistant Chief Josh Bruegger of the Pasadena Police Department.
Brothers Sgt. Matt (l) and Assistant Chief Josh Bruegger (r) of the Pasadena Police Department.

Sgt. Matt Bruegger followed in his brother’s footstep on his career path from Sam Houston State University, to the Pasadena Police Department and to the DWI Task Force Unit.

Sgt. Bruegger had a good role model and mentor. His brother, Assistant Chief Josh Bruegger, founded the unit in Pasadena back in 2000, when too many obstacles prevented officers from pursuing impaired driving cases. With just two years on the job, Josh Bruegger and two other night patrol officers tackled the growing problem on the area byways, and built a model program for mid-sized departments across Texas.

A driver holding a bottle behind the wheel, with blurred photo of the roadway.“DWI was a problem that was going undetected, and officers were responsible for a lot of other things,” said Assistant Chief Josh Bruegger. “So we told our officers if you catch them, we’ll clean it up. We became subject matter experts so what took us 1.5 hours would take a regular officer four hours. Patrol officers were more apt to stop drivers for DWI. We arrested 1,000 DWI offenders the first year. We became the model for a lot of other agencies.”

Impaired driving remains a passion for Assistant Chief Josh Bruegger, who now oversee all aspects of patrol for the department. He continues to be an instructor for the Impaired Driving Initiatives at SHSU, a Department of Transportation funded project that trains law enforcement, employers, and school personnel on the signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug impairment in an effort to keep roads safer.

Sgt. Matt Bruegger will take over the reins of the unit. He also has been trained as a Drug Recognition Expert and teaches school personnel in the Drug Impairment Training for Educational Professionals program at SHSU.

“It is an interesting and worthwhile cause because you are getting intoxicated people off the road before they can cause injury to themselves or injure or kill other people on the road,” Sgt. Matt Bruegger said. “It is a division where you see results right away. You may not know what will happen, but you can prevent a serious accident or fatality.”

Alumna Susan Clifton receives her Assistant Chief stripes from her mother.
Assistant Chief Susan Clifton received her stripes from her mother.
The Bruegger brothers are not the only officers or leaders from Sam Houston State University in the Pasadena Police Department. The College of Criminal Justice is well represented within the department, and three Bearkats were recently tapped for promotions. In addition to Josh and Matt Bruegger, Susan Clifton was elevated to Assistant Chief in charge of Investigations. She is a 1988 graduate and a veteran of many programs at the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas, most recently the LIFE program for female executives.

“I wasn’t even going to go to College before I got a softball scholarship from Sam Houston,” Clifton said. “I took my first criminal justice class when I was a freshman and I was hooked. The influence of my professors led me into law enforcement and planted the seed for Pasadena.”

The Bearkat trio all have risen steadily through the ranks, serving in a wide array of divisions, including patrol, investigations, and Internal Affairs. Clifton also headed the Domestic Violence Unit, the Police Academy and Special Operations. Each brings valuable lessons to the job taught by SHSU or its affiliated professional organizations.

“It’s made me well-rounded,” said Assistant Chief Josh Bruegger. “It has given me the bigger picture of law enforcement and how things are interconnected, such as society, law enforcement and theories, and how they apply to the job.”

For Sgt. Matt Bruegger, the classes were geared toward the real world.

“It showed you things you can implement, whether in law enforcement, at a federal agency or as a probation officer,” Sgt. Matt Bruegger said. “I think a lot of what I learned served at the baseline for everything that has led up to here. “

Assistant Chief Clifton served in many positions in the police department.
Assistant Chief Clifton served in many positions in the police department.
Clifton said she had learned so many things from SHSU, LEMIT and other training programs it is hard to credit just one with all the skills she uses daily on the job.

In Pasadena, the Bearkats share a unique bond and camaraderie on the job.

“We think a lot alike,” said Matt Bruegger of his brother. “When I am being supervised by him, he has higher expectations for me. He almost overcompensates, but we have a common bond.”



Assistant Chiefs Susan Clifton and Josh Bruegger are using lessons from SHSU and its affiliated professional institutes to help lead the department.
Assistant Chiefs Susan Clifton and Josh Bruegger are using lessons from SHSU and its affiliated professional institutes to help lead the department.
Assistant Chiefs Bruegger and Clifton now plan to use everything they learned at SHSU and in throughout their careers to bring fresh new ideas to the department. With just three weeks on the job, they are already implementing change. Josh Bruegger is encouraging officers to take advantage of the diverse opportunities available in the department and streamling paperwork, while Clifton is introducing a Hide-Lock-Take sign campaign in the city’s largest shopping district to help reduce motor vehicle burglaries and thefts.

“I like having the ability to get things done that I have wanted to do,” said Assistant Chief Clifton.

Assistant Chief Josh Bruegger wants to inspire officer to enjoy their work.

“I believe police work can be fun,” Assistant Chief Bruegger said. “I want my officers to come to work, do the job, follow the rules – and have fun.”


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