Sheriff’s dive team practices at Saugerties Beach

Members of the dive team discuss safety measures before entering the water. (photos by Robert Ford)

The Ulster County Sheriff’s In-Water Rescue Team is one of the first units called out when a boater falls into the Hudson River or into one of several local creeks that feed it. The team gets there quickly.  The members know the waters they are called upon to enter.

The team also retrieves the bodies of those who opt to end their lives by jumping off the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.


Last week, the team spent training time in the Esopus Creek off the Saugerties Beach, learning the waterway.

“Rescue team members are highly trained deputy sheriffs and correction officers who, in addition to their regular duties, don dry suits and underwater breathing apparatus whenever the need for their specialized skills arises,” explains the sheriff’s website. “Equipped with state-of-the-art equipment depending on the particular situation, members utilize devices such as wired and wireless voice communications, underwater metal detectors and protective apparel to fulfill their mission.”

The recent training mission in Saugerties gave members of the team not only a chance to work in the water, but to become familiar with the new docks and boat launch ramp installed at the beach. They worked on evidence recovery procedures. While they didn’t locate sunken treasure, they did come up with a shovel left in the water during the dock installation and several pieces of rebar left after the boat launch ramp was built.

Each year these members conduct dives involving search and recovery of evidence, victims and property. Members are stationed throughout Ulster County when on regular patrol duty, according to the website. They often train other specialized teams.

To become dive-team members, officers undergo a two-week training program, after which they receive designation as certified police divers. Throughout the year, the divers practice diving, underwater communications, boat operation and safety, and other matters.

Tenders work with two divers in the Esopus Creek during a recent training exercise.