IBERIA PARISH, La. (KLFY) — The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office is bringing the capabilities of their department deeper, specifically underwater. An Underwater Search and Recovery Team formed this month brings another layer to the marine response they currently have.
“We have a huge amount of waterways,” stated IPSO Underwater Search and Recovery Team diver Paul Buswell.
Bayou Teche, Lake Fausse Pointe, Weeks Island, Delcambre canal, the Port of Iberia, are all under the protection of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Buswell is convinced the newly formed an Underwater Search and Recovery Team to make any spot not on land or air safer.
“Before this team, they had to rely on either a contract diver, recovery divers, who didn’t have the same public safety or rely on another dive team from a different parish. Where that is very important is response time,” Buswell explained.
He said waiting on another dive team from Lafayette or St. Martin Parishes can take hours at times. Deputy Buswell is one of 4 primary divers on the team which also includes two safety divers and three communication support personnel. Everyone is in constant communication through enclosed diving masks.
“A lot of waterways in Louisiana is muddy water, so you don’t have any visibility. It is very technical and dangerous. We have high flow under the bridges. We have a lot of debris. You are completely blind while you are diving, and if you have to recover something, you have to do it by feel,” Buswell stated.
The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office has not had a dive team in at least a decade. Buswell said he did not recall one 23 years ago when he was a New Iberia Police officer.
The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office dive team is designed to assist in the recovery of items from waterways, including vehicles, firearms, and other forms of evidence, as well as the search and recovery of bodies.
Divers can even search for drugs attached to the bottom of boats in port. In fact, border defense was a primary contributor to an Operation Stonegarden federal grant to them. Forming the Underwater Search and Recovery Team would not have been possible without it.
The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office does want to thank Diver’s Destination in Lafayette for their dive certification.