The Bay County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team is on call 24 hours a day to respond to search and rescue or recovery calls or crime scene investigations when a body of water is involved. There are currently five full time and two reserve deputies assigned to this team, which is a voluntary assignment. The team rarely dives in the open waters of St. Andrews Bay or the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the time, they work in lakes, streams or canals, providing almost zero visibility for their missions.
Two boats are available to the Dive Team, including a 27' Boston Whaler dive platform and a 19-foot Boston whaler . These deputies have to pass strenuous physical fitness tests to be a member of the dive team, and constant training is required to keep up with the latest diving and investigative techniques.
Training ranges from perfecting line and compass searches to the use of specialized equipment, such as sonar, dry suits and full-face diving systems. The team is also trained in helicasting, where divers in swim gear are deployed from a helicopter. Frequently, the divers train along side divers at the Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center on Panama City Beach. Each member of the Dive Team is S.C.U.B.A. certified and holds training certificates throughout the civilian dive standard. Members have also attended the FSU UCSI school and train yearly with these groups.