Law Enforcement Dive Training
Law enforcement diving is a specialized form of search and recovery, which involves knowledge and skills with which most SCUBA instructors are not familiar. Some courses advertise law enforcement diving or police diver training when in fact the course is nothing more than a search and recovery course or a bunch of "specialty" courses lumped together. Before an instructor can teach this subject, they should have first hand professional knowledge and experience in law enforcement diving techniques, criminal investigations, crime scene searches, evidence recovery and handling, court room testifying, suspect interviewing skills, and more. Hopefully you will find an instructor who has years of professional law enforcement diving experience. Unfortunately there aren't too many.
Many SCUBA instructors think they can teach anything if they have a lesson plan in front of them and they'll try to do so at your expense, which means you lose. Also, be careful of the instructor that says their way is the only way. The odds are you're looking at someone who lacks the experience to support what they are saying. Anyone with a little experience in this business knows you need to be flexible and learn to "adapt and overcome." Many of the "This is the only way" methods can actually be done quite professionally and proficiently many different ways. What works for me might not work for you. The question is, "Is what you are doing working?" If it is, it's safe and you're happy, what's the problem?
So like any training, ask questions about the instructor's qualification. When was the last time they recovered criminal evidence? How many criminal cases and recoveries have they worked on? Have they ever been a full time sworn police officer and if they have, have they ever been a member of a law enforcement recovery dive team and if so, for how long? If they don't want to answer your questions or become offended with your questioning, usually that's a sign they don't have a good answer. But be careful. A few instructors may stretch the truth and say they have certain qualifications when they really don't.
There's nothing I hate worse than taking a course and sitting on my butt for days while listening and watching an instructor waste my time. They do this by not being prepared or by not knowing what they are talking about. Unfortunately, in most of these so-called "training programs" by the time you realize you've been "snookered," it's too late and because they are in it for the money, they don't give refunds!
Training agencies have also gone astray by delving into law enforcement diving due to the market and not because they actually have experience in the subject matter. This can be seen quite clearly with some of the rescue agencies. For years they pushed rescue diving and produced products to support their training and safety requirements. Now many of them have shifted towards law enforcement diving without blinking due to the market rather than their qualifications.
I'm not saying qualified professional training is not out there because it is. I'm saying you have a responsibility to yourself and your team to provide quality, professional training. You are an investigator, so investigate. Call them up, ask questions about the course contents and your instructors qualifications. If the course sounds like it has something you need, and the instructor is qualified to provide it, go for it.
Question - If you are a certified diver, was your instructor qualified to teach law enforcement dive training? How about your training agency?
Remember - Once you have the proper training requirements needed to participate as a law enforcement diver, retrain and update constantly. Prepare for what you are about to do.