Diving into criminal investigations

CPSO officers train in murky SW La. waters as part of certification

Eighteen officers with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office trained on Wednesday to become master underwater criminal investigators.

Divers practiced recovering a sanitized vehicle that was dumped and sank to the bottom of the dive pond. The car landed upside down, and the team had to attach lift bags to set the car right side up for investigation. This method preserves the integrity of the damage and helps investigators assess the wreckage more accurately.

“In the old days, we would use a wrecker and drag the car up, but that destroys the car and any physical evidence,” said Lt. Ron Johnson, with the marine enforcement unit.

Once the training is done, the sheriff’s dive team will be one of the few nationwide to have every diver certified as a master, Johnson said.

Johnson said the “next level divers” with CPSO’s marine response team have undergone years of training to successfully navigate and recover evidence in Southwest Louisiana’s murky waters.

“Diving is 100 percent self sufficient,” he said. “You have to be really confident in what you do. You have to be comfortable making choices underwater because one wrong breath can be life or death.”

Most of the water in Southwest Louisiana has a zero foot visibility and is also filled with debris and dangerous wildlife, he said.

“Concrete, rebarb, snakes, alligators — there are all kind of factors you have to be aware of for your safety and your codivers safety,” Johnson said.

The team has completed five official investigative dives this year and averages 12-18 underwater investigations annually. CPSO’s underwater criminal investigators also assist neighboring parishes with investigations, as well as the Coast Guard and other federal agencies when needed.

Most underwater investigations involve cars dumped for insurance fraud, robbery or drowning victims, Johnson said.

“Panic is our number the criminal in drowning,” he said. “Prepare in your mind mentally ahead of time.”

‘You have to be comfortable making choices underwater because one wrong breath can be life or death.’

Lt. Ron Johnson

Marine enforcement unit

””

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office Marine Division train using airbags to lift vehicles submerged underwater on Wednesday.

Rick Hickman

Local News

Pair has passion for civic engagement

Local News

Nonprofit director to retire: Hickman has worked for BArc for 39 years

Local News

Christian Youth Theater opens season with ‘Adam’s Family’

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:Let health experts call shots

high-school Football

Jennings High comes to aid of former foe

Local News

Victims of Ida get glimpse of journey ahead

Local News

Support workers not pleased with supplemental pay plan in Jeff Davis

Local News

Only a fraction of funding reimbursed to Cameron by FEMA

Local News

15 child deaths attributed to COVID in La.

Local News

School Board extends COVID-related sick leave policy

Local News

Kind Vibes Only: CPSO hosts one-mile anti-bullying walk

Local News

Sowela rolls out fifth annual Flying Tigers Car Show

Local News

Parents urge Jeff Davis School Board to oppose any vaccine mandate

Local News

City hiring two agencies to help with disaster recovery financial advocacy

Crime

Man arrested in Monday shooting near McNeese campus

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:State’s election system secure

Local News

Transfer of Mallard Cove Golf Course to Chennault complete

Local News

Maplewood schools will remain closed Thursday

Local News

Kinder Future Farmers of America collect, deliver fuel to Lafourche Parish

Local Business News

Disaster assistance request for SW La. makes it to budget

Local Business News

Area LyondellBasell plant receives ISCC PLUS certification

Local Business News

When it comes to headwear, Anne Monlezun and Kevin Mattingly have got you covered

Local Business News

Elizabeth Jimney column: Building a website that works for you

Local Business News

Names in the News: People shaping the future of Lake Area business