Over the years there have been a number of public safety divers who have died or have seriously injured themselves attempting a recovery, which required special skills and knowledge they did not possess. Many each year find themselves in trouble (over their heads) or, wasting everyone's time because of their lack of knowledge, skills and abilities in recovering underwater evidence. Having the proper training is imperative.
As a sport or public safety diver, you should be taught to dive within the limits of your training. This practice should be especially followed in recovery diving. Your professional training should begin only after receiving an advanced divers certification. Why advanced certification? Because an advanced course takes you one step further away from an open water (beginner) diver. An advanced certification introduces you to advanced diving techniques such as deep diving, night diving, search and recovery, advanced navigation techniques, etc. Completing the course is the 2nd step in your education and demonstrates that you are serious about becoming a professional.
If you possess just an open water license and you're planning on or already participating in law enforcement diving operations, ask yourself the following:
Where in your basic course did the instructor teach you about search and recovery?
Where did you learn about dealing with low or no visibility?
Where did you learn about all the other skills and knowledge requirements that are needed to allow you to safely and actively participate as an underwater criminal investigator?
If all you have in scuba training is an open water license, the answers to these questions are: He didn't, You didn't, and You haven't! So, why do we have sport divers out there calling themselves public safety divers?
As an open water diver, you have been given the skills and training to allow you to safely use scuba as a sport diver without killing yourself. That's it! Open water divers are qualified to 60 feet in conditions equal to or better than those in which he/she was trained. Open water training usually is only conducted in near perfect condition - not so for public safety diving.
The odds are that if you haven't been trained properly in underwater criminal investigations, you're probably not doing the job correctly. If you're not doing the job correctly, you're wasting a lot of valuable time and not finding everything you should be.