Underwater Recovery Team
Lieutenant Dennis Joiner
Underwater Recovery Team Commander
Marion County is one of the largest counties in the state of Florida encompassing over 1,600 square miles. Of our land mass, we have over 84 square miles of lakes, rivers, ponds and natural waterways. This is over 5 percent of our total area and that does not include any man made retention ponds or quarry pits that can be seasonally filled with water.
The Sheriff’s Office Underwater Recovery Team is one of the specialized units within the Community Policing Division. It is one of the several specialty units within the division that is staffed with full time deputy sheriffs from the agency. Marion County has numerous rivers, lakes, ponds and sinkholes, as well as numerous other man-made bodies of water within its jurisdiction. The Underwater Recovery Team’s mission is the recovery of drowning victims, evidence, or anything else which would require entry into one of these bodies of water. The team is comprised of 10 SCUBA certified divers, as well as a Dive Commander and Assistant Dive Commander, both of whom are also certified divers. The divers are recreationally certified divers, and experienced public safety divers who have advanced certifications which include such specialties as: Master Diver, Divemaster, Deep Diver, Rescue Diver, Underwater Navigator, Black Water Diver, Cavern Diver and Advanced Diver.
These specialties are in addition to certifications specific to Public Safety Divers, such as Dive/Rescue I and the Underwater Police Science course. In 2010 the team was called out 6 times to dive our local waterways. Two drowning victims were recovered as well as searching and recovering various pieces of evidence relating to crimes ranging from property crimes to homicides. Additionally, the team again participated in the annual Rainbow River clean up in an effort to help maintain our natural resources.