Drought Displaces WFPD's Dive Team

- As the seemingly endless drought continues to dry up Texoma's water supply, it's also drying up activities and training that need deep water to be effective.

Sgt. Danny Wiggins, the commander of Wichita Falls Police Department's dive team, says, "It's causing us to go farther and farther out from Wichita Falls to find some bodies of water where we can actually do some training."

WFPD's dive team has to travel hundreds of miles away from the city to find a lake that has enough water that they can train in to keep their skills sharp.

"We just don't have the depth of water in there," Sgt. Wiggins says. "The water there around the area is really dirty and silty. We try to do as little training in that as we can to help preserve our equipment and make it last longer."

On Wednesday, the team made the 100-mile drive to Lake Murray in Ardmore, OK for its July training session.

Steve Vaughn, a member of the dive team, says, "Training in water like this, you can see everything that's going on. We'll get used to what we see. Then when we go back to some water where we can't see, we rely on this training that we know what everybody's doing and what it looks like. Also we work on search patterns and communication with each other."

And even in a drought, it's important to continue training, because the divers never know when they might get called out.

"What our job is is basically search and recovery," Sgt. Wiggins says. "Anything that's lost in a body of water. If it's been thrown in there as evidence, it's been taken in a burglary, or a stolen weapon that's been tossed off the get ride of it so someone doesn't have it, or a drowning victim. They call us, we go underwater, and we locate it."

In this drought, everyone must adapt and adjust, just like WFPD's dive team.

The team also uses Lake Elmer Thomas and Lawtonka near Lawton, and Possum Kingdom Lake for its training sessions.

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