February 28, 2011

Santa Cruz Police Dive Team

Article by Lt. Colleen McMahon

What happens when a suspect attempts to hide the evidence of his/her crime by tossing it into the murky waters of the Monterey Bay? If people think items will be hidden forever once they disappear below the surface, they are wrong. The Emergency Services Unit Dive Team consists of officers who are specially trained and equipped to enter the dangerous environment underwater.

Divers must be physically fit and comfortable in the water. Search patterns and communication equipment also become an integral part of the team’s strategy. Techniques must be adaptable to open ocean conditions, river currents and other water environments.

Once evidence is located, it must be appropriately documented and recovered. Items can range in size from a knife to a motor vehicle. Each situation will require specialized knowledge and equipment.

Dive Team officers attend training sessions regularly. They must maintain and sharpen their ability to conduct search operations as a team within an environment that severely limits normal communication and is extremely hazardous due to the requirement for special survival gear. This includes SCUBA gear and, in the very cold waters of the Monterey Bay, drysuits to protect divers from the debilitating effects of the cold temperatures. Diving around the Santa Cruz Wharf requires a high level of comfort with low-light diving, surging currents, and errant fishing lines. Divers must work as a team to keep each other safe while accomplishing their search and recovery mission.

The Santa Cruz Police ESU Dive Team is just another way we are working to keep our community safe!