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"There's going to be some bragging rights that's for sure," said Rachael Obermeyer, a 19 year old with the Aurora Explorer Post.

The Law Enforcement Explorers Post Advisors Association of Colorado, or LEEPAAC, wants students ages 14-to-21 to learn professional police procedures from more than 80 police officers from around the country.

"It's just a great learning experience," said Zach Williamson, a 19 year old with the Weld County Explorer Post. "You can go back to your post when you're doing this type of scenario and say hey, this is how they did it."

Explorers from different areas were mixed up and formed into competition teams. They were then graded on a variety of exercises including high-risk traffic stops, serving warrants, and crime scene investigation.

"Actually doing it is a lot different than reading about it or seeing it on TV," said Robert Nees, a 19 year old with the Lakewood Explorer Post.

Kara Hoofnagle is the head of the Criminal Justice Program at Johnson and Wales. She knows not all of the Explorers will become law enforcement officers. But, she says they learn skills that translate into all facets of life.

"The program is so good at teaching leadership, at teaching responsibility, accountability," Hoofnagle said. "It really just builds students and their character."

Nees says he's learning valuable communication skills.

"What surprised me is how much actual talking police have to do," Nees said. "You have to be very vocal. You have to be able to talk with absolutely anybody and everybody."

The winners will be announced on Thursday. They will each take home a trophy standing about two feet tall.

Obermeyer says she hopes to take home the honors. More importantly, she says she's taking home an experience that may help her become a professional officer some day.

"You get tunnel vision, and your adrenaline starts to rush even though it's just a scenario," Obermeyer said. "So, you have to think on your toes, and it's not always straightforward."

Money raised from the conference will help fund the LEEPAAC scholarship program.

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