One of four original members of Hoffman Estates Police Explorer Post 806, Phil Giacone's career ambition is to become a police officer.
The post was started by officer Lisa Notarnicola four years ago and has since grown to 15 members.
Giacone of Hoffman Estates joined the post during his sophomore year in high school after attending a presentation from Notarnicola.
The Explorers program, which is part of the Boy Scouts of America, has existed in Hoffman Estates since 1977, but there was a lapse in membership for three years. Giacone and three others were the first Hoffman Estates Police Explorers when Notarnicola relaunched the program.
The program is a way for participants to get a feel for a job as a police officer, and many continue toward that goal when finished.
"She explained the opportunities that the Explorer program offered," Giacone said. "I was very enthusiastic about it. Now we're all testing for police departments."
In 2011, the Explorers participated in a state competition in Springfield.
"We had two weeks of training for traffic stops, domestic abuse (cases), felony stops, arrest, search-and-seizure and building searches. And with that experience, we found a way that worked for us as a team," Giacone said.
Giacone won first place for shooting in a live-fire competition at Springfield.
The Hoffman Estates Explorers also went to a national competition in Fort Collins, Colo., this summer.
"That was the original goal when we started the program. We wanted to go to nationals," Giacone said. "So, through the four years of the program, it was actually a pleasant surprise that we were actually able to get the funds and be able to go to nationals."
Their participation in competitions has not been without speed bumps, as they discovered last year when they didn't have proper uniforms.
"When we went down to our Springfield competition, we had polo (shirts). We didn't have actual uniforms," Giacone said. "So when we went from competition to competition, we just had our duty belts and the polos, which I guess stuck out from everybody else. But it also gave us a drive to want to do better."
After Giacone placed first in shooting, the group also finished first as a team in shooting and won second place in the obstacle course. The experience taught the Explorers something.
"It showed that it's not the uniform, it's the person in the uniform that counts," Giacone said.