NEW: Certified underwater criminal investigator coming to MCSO

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 6:29 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office is getting a new tool in for investigating cases and solving crimes in water. It’s a first of its kind in the State of Georgia: an underwater criminal investigator.

“I’ll be able to testify, gather and collect all the evidence underwater,” Muscogee County Deputy Russell Sherman said.

For those of us living near the Chattahoochee River, Lake Harding and several other bodies of water throughout the Chattahoochee Valley, accidents are prone to happen. Right now, if someone drowns or a crime is committed in a body of water there is no expert underwater criminal investigator.

Deputy Russell Sherman is the man on the job, saying this technique can make or break cases, “If I’m called out to a lake or to the Chattahoochee River then we have side scan sonar, a technology that stays under the boat, right side left side limit. It pinpoints that object, so we can dive down to it, gather evidence, photograph it, collect and bring it back up unharmed.”

Sherman explained several hours of training and different classes goes into this certification, but he told News Leader 9′s Ashlee Williams that it is in great demand here in the State of Georgia.

In past circumstances, it has taken days, weeks and even months for bodies to be found in the Chattahoochee River. With this new technology, it can now take a matter of minutes.

For example: “Like the little girl in California... the perfect example. About two and a half weeks ago, police divers spent an unknown amount of time looking for the body and using the side scan of technology. With the training I’m getting, it will be in about 30 minutes. It narrows down the window for locating somebody and evidence.”

Deputy Sherman completes all of his diver training on October 18th, then he will be named a fully functioning underwater criminal investigator.