The Lee County Sheriff's Office is adding a new emergency response unit. Sheriff Stacy Weber said three sworn officers are becoming certified divers.
Weber said the response unit is needed because the county borders the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers and is covered with small lakes and ponds.
“As a detective, I learned a lot of defendants or suspects would try to utilize the water to hide things,” said Weber. “Toss guns, weapons, stolen property, safes and so on. That was basically the end of it because we were not able to go in and find stuff.”
Weber said the divers will also help in the search for and retrieval of bodies. He said in the past, the county had to wait for dive teams from Davenport or Muscatine to arrive to a scene.
“We have been stuck standing on the side of the water, waiting for others to come handle things,” said Weber. “The Sheriff’s Office’s outlook on this is we are done waiting. We are going to train our guys. We won’t be waiting around.”
Weber said the three officers are being trained by a former law enforcement officer so they are receiving a wide range of certifications necessary for law enforcement. He said the training could take weeks or even months to complete.
Weber said the public is invited to watch an upcoming training session at the Heron Bend Fishing Area along Highway 61 near the Lee County Conservation Office. The session will begin at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 3.