EDINBURG – The Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District Police Department recently hosted its first ever “Shredding Ceremony” for students who participated in the district’s First Time Offender Program.

“This is about a second opportunity. This is about our students cleaning their record and not having a criminal record that may affect them in the future,” ECISD Superintendent Dr. René Gutiérrez said. “I want to thank the first group for being the first model students of many more to come."

The six-week voluntary program is for first time offenders, who have committed a Class A or B misdemeanor offense, such as a possession of marijuana (less than 2 ounces) or a controlled substance, burglary of a building, or a state jail felony.

During the ceremony, the student’s criminal police record with the district is officially shredded.

“The documents are the police reports and all the information pertinent to filling a criminal charge against the offender, the defendant in this case,” said ECISD Police Chief Ricardo Perez Jr. “The students will learn that there is a chance to redeem themselves and learn from the mistake.”

Upon successful completion of the program, the students will have their pending first-time criminal offense permanently cleared from the Edinburg CISD Police Department’s database.

“It’s a very good feeling to know that I’m fortunate to get like another try and another chance at life. At first, I didn’t notice how big of a deal this was, getting a charge and it was going on my record,” said Edinburg High School student Alysha Garza. “This First Time Offender Program has been like amazing. It’s a very good program, being with my mom and we got closer.”

The students and their parents are required to attend a two-hour class, which is held at the Edinburg CISD Police Department training room on six consecutive Wednesday evenings.

Genevieve Garcia, Alysha Garza’s mother, said that the program helped her, and her daughter get closer by providing counseling for them.

“There are different activities that they do with us. Bonding activities that show us how to work as a team. They did an apology letter that showed us what the kids really felt,”  Genevieve Garcia said. “I was blessed to have been chosen to have her go through this program and I don’t regret one bit of it.”

Students between the ages of 10 to 16 years old, who are interested in joining the program, can contact the Edinburg CISD Police Department at (956) 289-2572.