The Dive Team is comprised of eight sworn members of the Sumter County Sheriff's Office. Dive Team members are volunteers assigned to a variety of positions within the agency and are activated on an as-needed basis depending on the size of the mission. Team members hold various levels of certifications with some members trained in the use of dry suits as well as other specializations.
In an effort to standardize the level of training, all members are required to attend an Underwater Police Science class that covers Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, and Search and Recovery certifications through the National Association of Underwater Instructors and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.
Public safety diving presents numerous hazardous conditions, and Sumter County offers a variety of lakes, ponds, rock pits, and river, including the Withlacoochee River, which offers low or no visibility conditions with unmarked or submerged obstacles. The methods used in searching for evidence or objects disposed of in a body of water requires the diver to probe small crevices and holes. Monthly training missions are conducted exposing team members to these hazards to maintain a high level of proficiency in navigation, zero visibility diving, operation of the dive boat and utilization of specialized equipment such as underwater communications, lift bags and search lines.
The Marine Division of Sumter County has been in operation for more than fifteen years. This division's mission has included finding lost boaters on the Withlacoochee River, drowning victims in our lakes and lime rock pits, the eradication of marijuana plants in the management areas. The Marine unit also assists the dive team when needed. The Sheriff's Office has one airboat and one 16' outboard boat. These boats are operated by deputies with special training and equipment.