Working Waterborne

Scuba diver entering the water.

October 26, 2021

Growing up on a lake, Tpr. Shawn Reynolds was pretty much destined to love being in the water.

"I became certified in scuba diving in college and started diving recreationally," said Trooper Reynolds. "I knew I was going into law enforcement and when I realized I could incorporate diving and boating into my career - that was a bonus."

Now a divemaster assigned to the Michigan State Police (MSP) Special Operations Division, and the only member of the Marine Services Team stationed in the Upper Peninsula, Trooper Reynolds feels lucky to have spent the last eight-and-a-half years submerged in water-specific skills.

"It's a pretty great way to spend a workday," said Sgt. Jim Bush, who supervises team members in Northern Lower Michigan and the U.P. "But it's not just the obvious. We use physics and math daily. You really have to understand how being underwater can physically impact you and the job you're tasked with."

The job this day was inspecting the massive hull of the U.S. Coast Guard's heavy icebreaking vessel the CGC Mackinaw in Cheboygan. The 240-foot-long, 58-foot-wide cutter assists with keeping channels and harbors open for commerce to meet winter shipping needs on the Great Lakes. 

MSP Marine Services Team members donned scuba gear to get eyes on what's below the surface. They provided a live feed of what they were viewing so Coast Guard members could watch and note any problem areas before their season starts. 

"The variety in our work keeps it interesting," said Sergeant Bush. "We were in Detroit when the freeway flooded, actually diving the waters there, and transporting people out of their stranded vehicles. During a wildfire in the U.P., we retrieved items that had been dropped during an aviation operation. We are always available to share our technology and skills."

For Trooper Reynolds, that meant helping the Department of Natural Resources locate a tracking collar from a wolf that ended up in a river in the Eastern U.P.

"That was a first for me," he said. "We believe a poacher attempted to get rid of it."

When not diving, the troopers assigned to the team perform road patrol.

"There's a balance," said Sergeant Bush. "Your days vary. We assist in missing persons investigations, search for weapons used in crimes, dive plane crashes and drownings. We're helping people, which is what we all signed up for."

Related Images
Marine Services TeamCGC Mackinaw