Deputies Cody Taylor, Jessica Murray and Jose Portillo recently completed intensive training to become certified divers with the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office’s dive team. Since early summer, these officers have been training at several locations in the New Orleans area to learn various watermanship and dive skills.
Classroom instruction and water exercises were key elements in all training. Among the most challenging exercises was an
mergency rescue diver course in which students learned techniques to work in black water with little or no visibility.
Divers were blindfolded and were required to complete underwater tasks by feeling.
Officers had to maneuver through pipes and net traps and complete puzzles, locate objects set across a lake bottom at different depths and swim a 500-meter freestyle in 14 minutes or less, and a 800 meter freestyle with mask snorkel and fins without lifting head out of the water in 16 minutes or less. Officers also were required to tread water for 15 minutes with the last two minutes lifting hands out of the water above their heads.
In addition, Murray and Portillo earned open water dive certification during training at Blue Water Park in Pelham, Alabama.
Deputies Taylor, Murray and Portillo join SJSO veteran dive team members John Norsworthy, Seth Rome, Jonathan Walker, and Jenni Estraca.
The dive team works in various technical environments in evidence and vehicle recovery.