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Opportunities for Youth in Law Enforcement

If you are a young person with an interest in law enforcement, it is not too early to start working toward a career in policing. Thousands of agencies across the country have programs specially designed for you. If you want to know how to get started, you have come to the right place.

Many agencies offer programs specifically for young adults that are designed to expose young adults to law enforcement and the career opportunities available. These programs can be a great way to get your feet wet in policing. Many focus on character building, developing leadership skills, and community service.

Below are some examples of programs geared toward future generations interested in policing. Most agencies have a unit or individual who coordinates youth programming. Find contact information for agencies near you.

Police Explorers / Cadets - For young men and women who are interested in careers in the field of law enforcement, Exploring offers experiential learning with lots of fun-filled, hands-on activities that promote the growth and development of adolescent youth. See also Learning For Life.

Cadet Explorers Kids with McGruff the Crime Dog

Teen Court - Teen Court is designed to educate youth about the judicial process through direct participation. Teens are nominated to serve as jurors, bailiffs, and attorneys.

Police Athletic League (PAL) - PAL is a youth crime prevention program that utilizes educational, athletic, and recreational activities to create trust and understanding between police officers and youth.

Citizens’ Police Academy for Youth – Many agencies offer citizens’ police academies as a means of educating the public about police services. Some agencies allow youth to attend or have separate special academies designed for youth.

Ride-a-longs – Ride-a-longs can offer a great way to get a first-hand look at what life as an officer is like.

Volunteering – Many agencies use volunteers to perform critical functions in the agency. In some cases, youth volunteers or interns are needed. See Volunteers in Police Service for more information.

Mentoring – Youth mentoring programs serve to build and maintain positive relationships between young people and law enforcement.

Photo of Young Adults in Law Enforcement