Police and law enforcement authorities at the local, state and national level are regularly called upon to enter the underwater world to do their jobs. Underwater search & rescue, recovery and investigations are time sensitive operations often performed in extremely challenging conditions. In emergency situations, the first ones to enter the water are Public Safety Divers (PSDs), which include police, sheriffs, fire rescue, and specially trained Search and Rescue (SAR) dive teams. From under ice search and recovery performed at night on thin ice to criminal forensics evidence retrieval in polluted or fast-moving water to port security hull inspections in busy waterways – there are many conditions which are too dangerous for public safety divers to enter the water. In cases such as these, an inspection class remotely operated vehicle (ROV) is the preferred tool to quickly and safely complete the task.
Important Features for Security and Law Enforcement ROVs:
When planning underwater missions for security, law enforcement, and recovery, key features which are required for an ROV to perform under demanding conditions include:
HD pan & tilt camera: When performing visual inspections, HD video and images help you see the underwater world in greater detail, allowing authorities to discover, positively identify, and record HD video and images of mission targets:
High intensity LED lights:
Underwater search and recovery missions are extremely time sensitive. When operating at night, and when diving deep, high powered LED lights are needed to illuminate the underwater world to continue the search.
Sonar: Lakes, streams, ponds, oceans – each body of water can have limited visibility due to particles in the water, dissolved organic matter, as well as temperature and salinity gradients. When visibility is low, an underwater camera becomes significantly less effective than sonar, which provides an accurate picture of the ocean floor using only sound – targets can be located without being seen directly:
Grabber arm: When an underwater target is positively identified, such as forensics evidence, a grabber arm is deployed from the front of an ROV to securely grip the object for retrieval at the surface:
GPS Location: When a search is conducted, it’s important to keep search vehicles within a search grid, or focused at a last known location. On-board GPS allows an ROV to accurately report its location. When points of interest are identified, those surface locations are recorded.
Powerful thrust: Operating in fast moving water such as rivers, tidal channels and open ocean currents can quickly tire divers, Only the most powerful ROVs can provide enough thrust to operate effectively in moving water.
On-board battery power: When deploying search missions in remote areas, it’s important to consider how much equipment needs to be hauled in to get started. ROVs with on-board battery power operate independently of a topside power source and can be deployed in the most remote areas.
Temperature rating: Coastal water temperatures can often approach freezing during the winter months. For prolonged dives, even the best dry suit becomes ineffective and will severely limit search times. ROVs with operating temperature ranges Down to -10° Celsius/14° Fahrenheit allow vehicles to operate under the ice all winter long.
Deployment speed: During Search and Recovery, time is of the essence. ROV systems must be quickly deployed in just a few minutes in order to be effective.
Video recording & cloud storage: ROVs can record all aspects of a mission, most importantly, video, images and sonar. Recording these files can prove invaluable when used as direct evidence, and for future mission training.
No matter the mission, when security and law enforcement officers enter the underwater world, they are placed at a significant disadvantage. ROVs designed for police and law enforcement use help tip the scales back in favor of the mission. When piloted by an experienced operator, ROVs can help to speed up missions while reducing risk to divers.