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Police Diver


Description

Police divers do extremely interesting work. They work within for police forces, or in their own diving units, looking for lost or stolen property, searching for explosives, recovering evidence, and looking under the deep dark water for the bodies of murder victims and accidental drownings.

American waters are often cold enough to preserve evidence, meaning that police officers are now able to use modern crime scene protocols, adapted to the underwater environment. Members of the diving team use archeological devices and techniques, video cameras, and still photographs, to gather as much information as possible in their dive.

While fulfilling, the work of police divers is hard and often gruesome. Searching for victims can be difficult particularly in the middle of the night, under water, fighting the current, with visibility obstructed by darkness and plant life making the work even more difficult. Often, divers will have to dive under ice, or search in confined underwater spaces, in fresh, salt, and polluted water, in oceans, rivers, sewers, and backyard pools.

Police divers must follow specific rules. They must dive in teams, with someone monitoring from land. Often, paramedics stand by in case of any emergencies. They plan the dive before they jump, use scuba-diving equipment, and restrict their searches to specific areas, only searching about 270-360 feet at a time. Using maps, they sweep the areas, while attached to a tether. They must be very meticulous about their work, ensuring that all points on the map have been covered before calling an end to the search.

Police divers are sometimes only employed as divers part of the time. Depending on the size of the city or the location, police divers might work as regular officers some of the time, and dive only when necessary.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
A police diver should be brave, yet cautious. This is because unnecessary risks or unplanned moves can cause death or injury to the divers in the team. Also, the diver should be mentally stable, whose emotions will not get in the way of completing a difficult task, like looking for the bodies of murder victims. A police diver should be fit, and able to focus on details, as well as perform thorough, meticulous searches.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Dive into reservoirs, quarries, lakes, sewers, rivers, at all times of day and night, looking for bodies, evidence, and lost or stolen property
  • Photograph and film area when item or body is located
  • Preserve and record evidence on site
  • Write follow-up reports
  • Give evidence in court
  • The day to day routine of a police diver is not always predictable. While they are initially trained as regular police officers, they concentrate on dives, although during the times when they are not actively involved in a dive, they may work as a regular officer. They will also be maintaining their equipment, re-training in diving techniques, or presenting information in court. The job will give divers the chance to work outside, although not always in favorable locations.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • When they are not active in other police roles, or writing up reports about past dives and underwater searches, police divers are in wetsuits and scuba gear, swimming around in a variety of bodies of water; swamps, streams, rivers, lakes, oceans, ports, harbors, locks, weirs, reservoirs, spillways, quarries, pools, and sewers. Many police divers are employed by police forces, while others might choose to work for commercial diving companies. Any diver, no matter who they work for, will be in close contact with other police officers, paramedics, firefighters, and the public over the course of a dive.

  Long Term Career Potential  
As a trained police officer, a police diver can always stay with the force, moving up the ranks to supervisory roles within the department. Or, a diver could leave the police force and become a commercial diver, meaning the police work is left up to the police, while the commercial diver. There is also the possibility or joining another type of police unit, like investigation or the highway police.
 

  Educational Paths  
Before becoming a police diver, you must become a law enforcement office. To do this, an individual must apply to the police force, proving they have good eyesight, are in good physical condition and have a secure, healthy mind. While it is not required, it is recommended you attend a community college to get a diploma in law enforcement. There are police training schools and programs offered at colleges across the nation. It is also a good idea to get a university degree in law, security, or social sciences.

Once in the police force, individuals can move onto becoming a diver. Training occurs in various ways, depending on which police force you work for. Some police forces require a prospective diver to have completed 100 hours of diving before applying to become a diver. One might attend a short introductory course, learning about a variety of job tasks, including observation skills, using recording devices, diving techniques, and how to handle of evidence. Divers are usually tested annually, and re-train once about once a month. They can also get further training in such fields as underwater explosives recognition, ice diving, first aid, deep diving, and lifting submerged vehicles.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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