As an undergraduate, Pugel studied Criminal Justice at Lower Columbia College, where he graduated with honors as the school's Outstanding Criminal Justice Student. He also earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminology from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). Additionally, he served as president of the Associated Resident Students at CSULB. He's still involved in school activities as an alumnus.

The state of California also awarded him the Supervisory Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certificate. At the end of their probationary period and satisfactory completion of a certain course of study, full-time police officers who have met all requirements of the Commission's regulations will get a POST certificate.