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Exclusive: MCSO trains to handle underwater explosive devices

(Public Domain Photo)

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office traveled to California recently to learn how to respond to underwater explosives planted by terrorists.

The agency’s Lake Patrol Underwater Search and Recovery Dive Team attended an annual workshop on Catalina Island that taught law enforcement how to handle underwater explosives.

“We set up a scenario which we had to investigate underwater, and broke into teams,” detective Rob Marske said. “First, we identified victims of an underwater explosion.”

The team would examine the victim for trauma and also ascertain if the ordinance was still live. Then, they would have to figure out what sort of explosive they were dealing with.

“In this case, it was a pressure cooker,” he said. “Then we had to determine if there were any other active [explosives] underwater.”

Marske said the training applied to all law enforcement, even those in the arid Arizona desert.

“We have five major lakes just in our county alone,” he said.

Markse said public areas at those lakes — marinas, boat ramps, dams and bridges, for example — could be targeted by terrorists, adding that an attempt to detonate a bomb could end up with an explosive in the water.

“Say we had a report that this person did have an explosive device, but yet they threw it into a body of water,” he said.

The California training addressed that issue as well.

“We feel confident now, through this training, that we would be able to handle that situation properly,” he said.

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