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Michigan State Police invest in underwater technology to help with recovery missions

Posted: 6:28 PM, Aug 19, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-19 22:28:15Z

With Michigan surrounded by lakes -- it only makes sense state police invest in equipment that helps them on land AND on water.

Trooper Joel Kuhn said, "It becomes a team effort between technology and people."

Marine Two is one of the state police marine team's newer boats. You will find it docked at Milliken State Park in Detroit.

A side-scan sonar, Remote Operated Vehicle and an AUV (autonomous under-water vehicle) are used with the boat.

"We are the first law enforcement agency in the country to have one of those," Kuhn said. "Program in GPS coordinates or search pattern grids and you can put it in the water and it will run its course run that search pattern while you are doing other things."

The equipment helps with recovering drowning victims. They've had to use it to recover 13 bodies this year. Two of those we're results of boat accidents and life jackets could've prevented the deaths.

Using sonar technology that searches water that's hundreds of feet deep makes it easier and safer than sending in a dive team.

"Anytime you put a diver in the water there's risk," he explained. "If you can cut down on that risk, especially in zero visibility conditions. So, the sonar can give you a much better idea of what you are getting in to before you actually put a diver in the water."

The state police equipment isn't just used to recover bodies but they also recover evidence and ship wrecks too.

"Michigan has some of the greatest ship wreck diving in the world because of the fresh water and cold temperatures," Kuhn said. "It can recover evidence of stolen property or evidence of a crime. There are some ponds that we go into. I can recall one in the Flint area, we were looking for a gun and it was full of junk. Washers, dryers there was a car in there. To find a small gun in the midst of that."

Michigan State Police hope viewers see the value in having the latest technology for recovery missions, especially for drowning victims' families.

"Until they find their loved one and can bring them home, they are at a loss. A huge part of them is missing."

That's why state police will use whatever technology needed to bring every body home.