Officers Train To Survive In The Water

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(Memphis) It sounds like something you might see in an action movie: a police officer jumping into a river to capture a bad guy.

Local enforcement officers trained for that same kind of scenario Tuesday at a North Memphis swimming pool.

Boating season is coming up, and officers say they never know what could happen on the water.

If the law enforcement officers didn't know how to fall in a pool fully clothed before, they do now. They did it over and over again in the seminar meant to save their lives.

“We train our officers in the basic police academy how to survive gun fight, knife fights and fights on the street but we really haven’t taught our officers how to survive when they fall in the water,” said Rodger Norcross, an instructor with the National Association of Boating Law Administrators.

Officers learned what to do with their guns.

“That becomes a weight,” said Memphis Police Officer Anthony Rudolph. “That is no longer a weapon for us, it`s a weight.”

They also learned surprising things to do with their pants.

“We can manipulate the ends of the pants or blow into it and they can become a floatation device for us,” said Rudolph.

Firefighters were even told to go in the water with their full turnout gear.

While it is so heavy once it gets wet, instructors told them not to struggle to take it off, to actually keep it on and roll up into a ball because the outfit traps air and works as a flotation device if you don't try to get it off.

“We let them float for four minutes in their full turnout gear,” said Norcross.

Instructor Norcross teaches law enforcement officers around the country how to survive if their job takes them in the water. He says seven game wardens drowned last year in Texas. Nobody has drowned while on the job recently in Memphis.

“It’s not something that happens all the time but training is to be prepared,” said Rudolph.