The Leon County Sheriff's Office has for many years supported a Tactical Dive Team to complete the high risk tasks of Public Safety / Law Enforcement Diving. Tactical Dive Team Members are trained and operate as Underwater Crime Scene Detectives.
There are many facets related to the environment surrounding a Public Safety / Law Enforcement dive operation; deep, cold water, zero visibility and contaminated waters are the norm, not the exception. The divers often dive by feel not visual acuity and must contend with the weather, lack of daylight, water current and often coordinate their efforts with other agencies. Law Enforcement divers must be trained in search patterns, recovery techniques and underwater crime scene processing. Evidence must be located, documented with video or photographs, and collected in a manner consistent with Law Enforcement Crime Scene Standards. The Tactical Dive Team must perform these tasks and be prepared to testify in criminal proceedings.
There are currently eight members on the agency's Tactical Dive Team. Members are volunteers and have primary job assignments throughout the agency. Members serve in an on-call status (24 hours a day, 365 days a year) for Leon County and numerous surrounding counties.
Each member is required to have a minimum of an Open Water Certification from a nationally recognized dive organization and the Underwater Police Science and Technology Course. Each member is also required to successfully complete a yearly physical fitness exercise. Team members are also trained in advanced diving methods and are required to operate various vehicles and watercraft assigned to the team.
The Team responds to incidents to include drowning investigations, homicides, weapon recovery, suicides, auto crashes, auto thefts, boating crash investigations, suspicious sinking of vessels and recovery of stolen property. The team also responds to special community needs, such as evacuation of people during flooding.