When people think of the Royse City Police Department, the image of Lt. Jeff Stapleton usually comes to mind. The tall, soft-spoken officer has worked everything from patrol to interim chief of police.

Stapleton has worked for the Royse City Police Department for five years, where he has had the chance to fulfill a lifelong goal of working in law enforcement and helping people.

“I love helping people and trying to make a difference. You are here to help people. I always loved the thought of being able to basically have your own office instead of being stuck in a building. You have your own office in a police car, and you get to be able to work with the public everyday,” Stapleton said.

He is second in command of the department, after Chief of Police Tom Shelton. Stapleton was interim police chief about six months in 2004 after former Chief Dana Thomason left until Shelton was hired July of the same year.

His job as lieutenant entails mostly administrative functions, such as overseeing all patrol officers and lots of paper work.

“I handle a lot of administrative responsibilities, act as a training coordinator, do the payroll, and I handle the scheduling over all of the sergeants and patrol,” Stapleton said.

He originally started out working as a patrol officer, like the many officers he oversees. He misses working patrol and occasionally gets the opportunity to stretch his legs and help his fellow officers on their patrol calls.

“I miss being in the street. I help officers during potentially dangerous calls or if I hear something different in their voice over the scanner. I miss being able to respond to the calls and dealing with all of the personalities of the public,” he said.

Stapleton is also no stranger to working with firearms in intense situations. He was in active duty in the 2nd Armory Division from 1987 through 1991 in the Persian Gulf War in Kuwait. He then served in the National Guard from 1991 through 1995.

“Law enforcement is a very paramilitary job,” Stapleton said.

After serving in the military, he worked as a reserve patrol office with the Sherman Police Department from 1994 to 1996. He worked for free, like all reserve offices, approximately 20 to 30 hours per week so he could eventually work as a patrol officer in a paying position.

He patrolled Sherman while he worked in the building supply business for McCoy’s Building Supply the rest of the week.

He got his first paying law enforcement job at the Bonham Police Department, where he worked for a little more than three years in the mid to late 1990s. He also worked with the Fannin, Red River and Lamar Counties SWAT Task Force while working in Bonham.

He saved as a patrol officer and as a K9 office, developing close bonds with the two Labrador retrievers he worked with daily. The dogs aren’t off of the native Floridian’s mind too much. He has pictures of himself and the dogs in his office in Royse City.

He chose to work in Royse City after his friend, Paul Holt, recommended the department.

“Paul Holt was a sergeant here for years, and we had both worked together in Fannin County. There was a lot more potential for me to come here to work with the growth,” Stapleton said.

“There are a lot of advantages to working here. We have a lot of really good officers here. We’re constantly increasing the amount of training for our officers, which helps the department and the community.”

He likes working in Royse City because the department takes a proactive approach to fighting crime rather than responding to crimes after they are committed.

“We do a lot of criminal patrolling where we’re being proactive in the community. Our officers are looking for people who may commit crimes. We don’t want to be an agency that is reactive.

“I’d like the people to know that the Royse City Police Department is working on starting ‘street programs,’ such as neighborhood watches and the citizens police academy,” Stapleton said.

The Royse City Police Department is also utilizing special weapons and tactics training from throughout the state and in Brazil. Shelton has helped get SWAT training for the department because he is the president of the Texas Tactical Police Operations Association.

Stapleton was the lone Royse City patrol officer who got the opportunity to teach some SWAT classes in Vitoria, Brazil, in April last year. He taught SWAT classes that lasted at least 10 to 12 hours per day for eight days along with SWAT personnel from Texas, Brazil, Spain and other South American countries.

“The schedule consisted of a lot of different classes, from hostage rescue to hand-to-hand tactics, to building searches, crowd control and building entry. That was a great experience. For a law enforcement officer, I felt like that was an opportunity of a lifetime,” Stapleton said.

“To train with officers from different countries was amazing. There are a lot of kidnappings, homicides and robberies in South America. Brazil is a very poor country, and the people there are wonderful. They are really hospitable, gracious and took very good cared of all of the Americans when we there. The students were just some of the nicest people.”

The trip and courses were paid for by the TTPOA. Patrol officer Tim West had originally won the trip during a raffle at the TTPOA state conference. West could not attend the Brazilian SWAT school due to a scheduling conflict, and Stapleton got to go to South America instead.

Though he lives north of Royse City, the 37-year-old spends most of his time working in the city at the police department and working out after hours at Royse City Fitness.

He’s also taking college courses at Mountain State University, which is an online college. He’s completed 40 college credit hours and has an advanced peace officer license.

When he’s not busy helping to make the Royse City Police Department run as smoothly as possible, Stapleton enjoys spending time with his wife, Linda, and his 17-year-old daughter, Niccole, who lives in Sherman.

He also keeps work close to his heart and mind, along with the resident of Royse City, which has become his second home for the last five years.

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