The title of Texas Ranger is rare.
It is an honorable role throughout the State of Texas, with a heritage that traces to the earliest days of Anglo settlement in Texas.
As of January 1, 2020, there were just 166 Rangers authorized across the entire state. Three of those Rangers hold the distinguished title of graduate of East Texas Baptist University.
For Nic Castle (’01), Brian Hemati (’03), and Bruce Sherman (’06) a chapter of their journey to becoming Texas Rangers was spent on The Hill. An experience that grew their faith, molded them as men, prepared them for their role in law enforcement, and led them to lifelong relationships.
During his time at ETBU, Nic Castle served the campus as a Resident Assistant for two years, was a member of the Student Government Association, and was named the Department of Behavioral Sciences Student of the Year for the 2000-2001 academic year.
Upon graduating with a degree in Psychology in 2001, Castle joined Fort Worth ISD as a high school special education teacher. After being called into law enforcement, Nic joined the North Little Rock Police Department as a patrol officer in 2005. He returned to Texas in 2007 as a Highway Patrol Trooper and was recipient of the Mark J. Phebus Leadership Award presented by the Texas Department of Public Safety in 2008.
Castle was promoted to Texas Highway Patrol Sergeant in 2013. That same year the Smith County Sheriff’s Office presented him with the Distinguished Service Award and the Smith County Chapter of MADD presented him with the MADD Leadership Award.
Along his journey, he completed the Texas Department of Public Safety Training Academy and earned his Master Peace Officer’s License from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
“After some time in law enforcement, I decided Criminal Investigations, specifically violent crimes and people crimes, interested me the most,” Nic said.
Castle was named a Texas Ranger in 2016 and in January 2022 was promoted to Texas Ranger Lieutenant.
“Now as a Lieutenant, I have the opportunity to train, equip, and support a new generation of Rangers,” explained Castle. “God has blessed me beyond what I ever could have imagined in my career!”
Following graduation from high school in 1999, Hemati enrolled at ETBU that fall. During the spring of 2000, he worked on the production of the theater program’s play “The Importance of Being Earnest.” That Fall, he served as a mentor to incoming freshmen as part of the Journey program. Hemati also sang in the Chapel Choir for a couple of semesters.
Hemati completed the background and interview process for the DPS Training Academy in the fall of 2003 during his final semester at ETBU. After graduating from ETBU with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources, Hemati entered the DPS Training Academy as a Trooper-Trainee in February 2004. Upon his graduation from the Academy in August 2004, he was stationed in Terrell, Texas as a Highway Patrol State Trooper. For five years, he was responsible for highway law and traffic enforcement.
“I was able to enjoy investing in my community by helping others. Sometimes directly helping those in need on the highways or responding to victims of crime,” explained Hemati. “Sometimes by saving their lives by slowing them down or addressing other traffic-related infractions, although those folks rarely felt very helped.”
In July 2009, Brian was promoted to Highway Patrol Sergeant as a first-line supervisor for the State Troopers. The promotion led to a relocation to the Texas Panhandle where he resided for six months before a transfer brought him back to East Texas in Athens. He would remain in that role for 12 years and began to invest in the careers and aspirations of others as a firearms instructor, physical fitness instructor, crash reconstruction instructor, crime-scene photography instructor, and Use-of-Force instructor.
Hemati was promoted to the Texas Ranger Division of the Department of Public Safety in August 2021 and assigned to investigate various cases involving public corruption and violent crimes.
“Law enforcement is far different than I thought it would be. I ran across one of my old assignment papers from ETBU recently in which I wrote about ethics in policing and the need of ethics in law enforcement,” said Hemati. “While nothing I wrote was inaccurate, it was interesting to hear my naïve perspective and note my level of inexperience coming from an air of informed intelligence.”
During his time on The Hill, Bruce Sherman worked on the Facilities Maintenance staff at ETBU while pursuing a degree in Applied Sociology and playing on the Tigers football team from 2003-2005.
Bruce’s career with the Texas Department of Public Safety began a month after his graduation from ETBU in 2006. With that hiring, Sherman obtained a goal dating back to the age of six to become a State Trooper.
“My dad, and role model, had been in law enforcement since the ‘70s. He always encouraged me to become a State Trooper if I wanted to be in law enforcement,” explained Bruce. “In the small town where I grew up, the Texas Highway Patrolmen were the pinnacle of a policeman in my eyes. Even the Sheriff and a Justice of the Peace were retired State Troopers.”
Over the last 15 years, Bruce has served as a State Trooper, Special Agent and since 2017 as a Texas Ranger. In those roles, he has been deployed to border security operations, natural disasters, and other critical incidents in Texas.
“I remembered the positive influence and impact the local Texas Ranger had on our community growing up,” said Sherman. “Now, I am blessed with the same opportunity to preserve the rich history, tradition, and bar set by those State Troopers, Texas Rangers, and great Texas lawmen before me that spent their lives serving and protecting others.”
In his current assignment with the Texas Ranger Division in Company “B” covering Dallas, Kaufman, and Rockwall counties, Sherman also has assignments to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the United States Marshal Service’s Fugitive Task Force.
Sharing in the Mission
ETBU Faculty and Staff played a role in the development of these three men during their time on The Hill.
“Dr. (Laurie) Smith was not just there to teach the subject matter of whatever class you registered for; she made a positive difference in her students’ lives. Dr. Smith is undoubtedly my first thought when I recall my favorite professors, and I am thankful for her support in pursuing this career during my time at ETBU,” Bruce explained.
Castle added, “Dr. Laurie Smith’s ‘Death and Dying’ class and her expertise at navigating the grief process has served me well in my profession over the years.”
“Dr. Lynn New in Psychology whose classes were always ‘quite scintillating’ (if you had his class you definitely know that reference) and he consistently helped us think outside the box and expand our understanding of the topics and our world in general,” said Hemati.
“Dr. John Harris in religion taught me to think critically and logically through the text of the Bible. I always enjoyed the format of his classroom and the open discussion the class was able to have,” said Hemati. “I was greatly sharpened in his class. Professor David Chrisman was able to bring historical events to life and had a real passion for his subject. He taught me to love the past which serves me today.”
From their time spent at ETBU, all three gentlemen pointed to the friendships made and meeting the love of their life on The Hill.
Castle married Krystal (Sherrod) Castle (’01) on January 6, 2001 and the couple has two children, Cora and Benjamin. Hemati met his wife Erica Rae Detrick, whom he married in August 2008, as both were students at ETBU. The Hematis have four children, Titus, Alexis, Maximus, and Genesis. Sherman married Kelle (Chambers) Sherman (’06) in 2009 and they have two sons, Wyatt and Marshall.
“The real heroes are the spouses, children, and immediate family members of law enforcement officers,” said Sherman. “They are the ones that make the sacrifices for law enforcement officers every day to effectively do their job until the job is done. A law enforcement officer’s greatest asset, second to a personal relationship with Christ, is the support of their spouse.”
The last few years have been some of the most turbulent for those working in law enforcement. Dodging a bullet fired in their direction, being present at a brutal massacre, dealing with those lives broken by abuse, and seeing firsthand the worst of the sinful and fallen world we live in can be trying on any law enforcement officer.
“Law enforcement is certainly dangerous and all the things you see and hear, but probably the biggest unknown thing about law enforcers is that they have to see things and deal with events, images, and realities that the majority of society will never experience,” explained Hemati. “This is a heavy burden which most law enforcers feel like they carry alone.”
“Our profession is a calling. We meet people at their lowest moments and help them navigate situations no one should ever have to face. We do it all while having to maintain our composure and professionalism in the face of chaos and violence,” said Castle. “Despite this fact, the crimes, especially crimes against children, hit close to home for us as parents.”
It is the role, as a parent and husband, that all three former Tigers mentioned when asked how their ETBU family could specifically pray for them. Asking for prayer as they balance the demands of their careers with the responsibilities as a husband and a father.
For these three former Tigers in law enforcement and all those working in law enforcement around the world, ETBU lifts prayers of gratitude up to God. Our prayer for those unsaved is that they will come to know Christ. For those saved law enforcers, may God continue to provide them with the grace to stand firm in their faith during difficult situations.