The U.S.R.T. (Underwater Search and Recovery Team) was formed over 40 years ago under State Law mandating that County Sheriff's are responsible for recovery of drowned persons. The 12 (sworn) members are the sole underwater search and recovery team in Macomb County. As such, the Macomb Sheriff U.S.R.T. uses it resources and personnel to assist any public safety agency in Macomb County, and also participates as a member of Southeast Michigan regional search and recovery team. In addition to the recovery of drowned persons, the team also is crucial in recovery of criminal evidence and/or property put in the water to avoid detection. Through County, State, and Federal funding, the team is outfitted and trained with the latest equipment and technology. The use of side scan sonar, underwater remotely operated vehicles, and many other tools allow the team to achieve success in their operations which are performed 24/7 year-round.
At first reports received that a drowning has occurred and a victim is missing, the U.S.R.T. Supervisor and team leader would proceed to the body of water to be searched. After making assessment of water depth, clarity, credibility of information received, associated risks to divers, a determination is then made for search plan, time and location of team activation. Upon team arrival at scene, when required, high tech imaging side scan sonar devices and an underwater robot are utilized. Upon confirmation, various methods of search are performed, which will lead to successful recovery while minimizing the dangers to the Sheriff Team members.
Macomb Sheriff U.S.R.T. members are selected based on their S.C.U.B.A. skill levels and their coping abilities underwater in confined spaces. The diver's ability to function in zero visibility conditions, while encapsulated in a rubber suit, under duress, is also used for consideration. All team members receive training up through the certification of Master Diver. The team trains monthly, and also participates in annual homeland security details and exercises with the regional team.
In the past, the U.S.R.T. has also assisted the Road Commission in underwater bridge structure inspection on the Gratiot Bridge in Mt. Clemens, the Michigan DNR Fisheries Biologist in obtaining specimens from the bottom of Lake St. Clair in Anchor Bay, our Detective Bureau in recovering everything from murder victims to weapons used to commit crimes, narcotics and stolen property. Additionally we recovered ten drowning victims and evidence from the bottom of Lake St. Clair in St. Clair Shores and Harrison Township following boating accidents over the last three years.
The Sheriff U.S.R.T. members feel privileged to provide this highly skilled service to help solve crimes, and to provide answers and closure to victim’s families following drowning accidents in Macomb County and Southeast Michigan.