McAllen, Edinburg offering law enforcement experience to teens this summer

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Do you know a teen who dreams of one day being an attorney or police officer? Then the cities of McAllen and Edinburg may have an opportunity for them.

The two cities are offering local teenagers a chance to see what it’s like to be a public servant during two unique experiences this summer — a teen municipal court, and a teen police academy.


The McAllen Municipal Court is offering McAllen high school students an opportunity to serve as teen lawyers and jurors who will deal with real-world cases against teens who are facing class C misdemeanor citations.

“McAllen Municipal Court’s Teen Court Program allows teenage offenders to dispose of their citations in a court of their peers,” the city stated in a news release on Monday.

Judge Lauren Sepulveda’s bench is seen in this undated photo at the McAllen Municipal Court. (Courtesy: City of McAllen)

The program is being made possible through a $7,965 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation.

Teen defendants who agree to be judged by their teenaged peers will be allowed to address their citations without fees or a conviction.

“As long as the teen offender completes the community service hours and requirements assessed by the teen jury, their charge is dismissed, and no fines are assessed against them,” the news release states.

Any teen 14 or older who lives in or goes to school within McAllen can apply to serve as a teen prosecutor, defense attorney or juror. The teen court program will hold court sessions between June and October.

To prepare for the program, participants will need to attend an “advocacy conference” where they will be “taught advocacy skills by local trial attorneys.”

Two such conferences will be held — one in June, and the other in July.

The program is open to highschoolers only, and is free. Should a teen need help with business attire, “financial assistance for court appropriate clothing for volunteers is available,” the news release states.

To apply, contact the teen court coordinator at (956) 681-2900, via email at [email protected], or online at the McAllen Municipal Court’s website.

Applications may be submitted through 11:59 p.m. on Friday, May 24. Teens selected to participate in the program will be notified no later than June 1.


Meanwhile, teens living in Edinburg will have a chance to participate in a week-long teen police academy.

The academy is open to any incoming 10th, 11th, or 12th grade student who attends a public, private or homeschool within Edinburg.

Like McAllen’s teen court program, the Edinburg Teen Police Academy is free of charge.

“The week-long program will allow participants to learn more about core police functions, such as patrol, special operations, and crime scene investigation, through hands-on activities at the CPL Derek Hernandez Police Training Facility, located at 1309 N. Doolittle Road,” the city stated via a news release on Tuesday.

The department will host two sessions — the first from June 24 through June 28, and the second from July 8 through July 12.

Each session will take place from 8 a.m. to noon daily.

Limited spaces are available and the deadline to apply is June 17.

Teens may download the application form on the city’s website.

Completed applications should be sent to [email protected] and [email protected].