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Taking the Plunge: Officers Who Work Around Water Need To Know More Than Just How To Swim--They Need To Know How To Be Cops in Deep Water

NCJ Number
Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine Volume: 30 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2006 Pages: 24-26,28
Dave Young
Date Published
April 2006
4 pages
In addition to providing guidelines for police officers in making rescues, subduing suspects, and surviving in water, suggestions are offered for how to train officers in these skills.
Basic techniques for performing various on-duty actions in water should be taught to all officers, not just marine police, since water is a potential environment for police actions in all jurisdictions. Although most officers have learned to swim, they have not attempted to swim or perform other actions in water while being in full uniform with equipment, including body armor. This adds approximately 35 pounds compared with wearing swim trunks. Officers should be trained in the following basic skills in water: swimming with the face down in the water, swimming with the head above water, swimming with head above water and a gun in the hand, and treading water. The latter skill is particularly important when contacting a subject to be rescued or a suspect to be subdued, since both operations require hands and arms to be performing actions other than keeping the head above water. Leg action in treading water thus becomes the only means of keeping the head above water. The goals of training should be to learn how to survive a sudden plunge into deep water while in uniform and with full equipment and to learn how to use force in the water to control and arrest resisting subjects. This requires that officers be trained to use their weapons while treading water, including the baton, chemical spray, and a replica of a sidearm. Training should be done in at least 8 feet of water and with an actual or simulated dock and boat.