Law Enforcement Dive Team

As most of you know, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department dive team is headquartered at Southern Skin Divers Supply. We provide and train the volunteer black water divers for the Sheriff's Dive Team.

Southern Skin Divers Supply is now the official Dive Team for the largest law enforcement agency in Alabama.  Sheriff Mike Hale of Jefferson County is our friend and we are proud to be volunteers and be able to help law enforcement agencies that can use our skills.  Southern will be purchasing additional equipment to help us locate metal objects such as automobiles that have washed away in strong current.  The Sheriff's Dive Team will be training in rivers throughout Alabama.  As new volunteers are needed, Southern will evaluate and train black water divers for the Sheriff's Dive Team.  The four primary divers on the Sheriff's Dive Team have well over 10,000 total dives and have been certified for over 100 years total time.  Forrest and Spencer Phillips are both Instructor Trainers.  Allen Scott is the main diver to look for bodies.  Steve Phillips has more experience in finding metal underwater than anyone in Alabama.  We will keep our divers posted on what the Sheriff's Dive Team is doing.

Here's a copy of the letter we received from Sheriff Hale. ==> Dive Team



Recently SSDS has started stocking and selling a new Emergency Response SCUBA System. This equipment has great potential for rescue divers and for fire departments. The SCUBA system can be instantly deployed and used underwater or on land. Forrest demonstrated the Emergency Response SCUBA System to Chief Lee of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Forrest was dressed in his uniform and walked up with the SCUBA System. I timed him as he donned the equipment, turned it on, dived in the pool, located a weightbelt, cut a two inch wide web belt and then surfaced holding the weight belt and the cut strip. The total elapsed time was 51 seconds. Amazing if you think about how long it usually takes to put together then put on your dive equipment. I can see a real need for such equipment as this for real rescue divers. Realistically, most times that an emergency happens that this equipment could be used, the diver will not be close enough to help. But sometimes it could be used. Also on land, when an officer or fireman must enter a smoke filled house, building or car, this equipment could often be of use. We will be training the law enforcement and rescue and recovery dive teams to use this Emergency Response SCUBA System.


Forrest donning the Emergency Response SCUBA Unit                                      After the demonstration in the pool

Many of the dive teams throughout Alabama are manned by volunteers but others are paid officers such as the City of Hoover has now. Southern Skin Divers Supply has been training several Hoover police officers to be useful divers on their new team. The Hoover team is learning the skills that it will take. Most of their training has been here at The SCUBA School and now they are starting to train some in ponds and lakes. I hope to work with some of the better divers this Spring in the hazardous and hostile blackwater rivers. This is where they will start to learn about strong currents, obstructions, lines and snags and things that bump into you in the blackness. I will be training them how to use an underwater metal detector and other equipment so they can find metal items such as weapons when they need to. The dive team divers whether paid or volunteer must be willing to spend at least a thousand hours underwater in order to be proficient when they are needed.

Many times when divers are needed it is after rains when our creeks and rivers are at high water and have bad currents. Divers will be asked to enter these waters by land people who have no knowledge of whether the divers can safely go in the waters or not. We want to make sure that the emergency divers are very familiar with their skills and know when to go and when not to go. The Hoover team is very fortunate to have our own Mark Tant as their Training Coordinator. Mark has been diving for 35 years and is the senior Instructor Trainer for Southern Skin Divers Supply. Mark's full time job is a detective for Hoover.

The Hoover dive team recently found and recovered a car underwater that was stolen 16 years ago. The team was practicing search patterns in a lake when the car was found.


 Hoover Special Response Team on a training dive                                          With the car the Hoover SRT divers recovered

In April, Mark taught a two week Crime Scene photography class to local police officers. The Jefferson County Sheriff's dive team and the Hoover dive team are willing and available to help as needed throughout Alabama.

We at SSDS would like to know about and build a list of other Law Enforcement dive teams in Alabama. Please call and give us contact information.

Here are some links to some previous work that Southern & also the Hoover dive team has done for the Law Enforcement Community .

(watch for more to be posted):

12/2/04        10/11/07    3/18/08    4/12/08


A True Diving Pioneer Passes - Bill Tant - "Cap'n Scuba"

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Southern Skin Divers Supply - 4515 5th Avenue South - Birmingham, AL 35222 - (205) 595-3052

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