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Divers gather for anniversary

LAKE GEORGE The New York State Police Scuba Diving Team recently celebrated its 75-year anniversary, with a reunion at Dunhams Bay Resort in Lake George. Founded in 1932 the team remains the oldest, and largest, state law enforcement dive team in the nation.

Past and present members of the dive team, their families, friends, and colleagues, gathered for the 3-day event. The purpose of the reunion was to share their experiences, educate attendees on the latest technological developments, and document the history of the organization.

This is the first time weve done this type of reunion, said Ted Smetana, retired New York State Trooper and former Division Dive Officer. A lot of early diving records have been purged, so we are trying to get everyone together to document what we remember for present and future divers.

In addition to lectures, historical displays, and memorabilia, a public diving demonstration was provided.Attendees observed as divers exited a state police helicopter into the water, joined with other team members, and navigated to shore. The team also displayed their recently acquired airboat, the latest in personal underwater propulsion equipment, and cutting-edge wetsuit technology that keeps divers completely dry underwater while protecting them from any chemical contaminants.

Diving teams across the state remain on call 24 hours a day, responding to a myriad of emergencies such as missing persons reports, evidence recovery, and national security details. In 1996 the team was mobilized in response to the crash of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island. During the disaster, the state police dive team was among the first agencies responding, and assisted the recovery effort for a record 111 days of continuous diving. In total the team contributed to the recovery of all crash victims, and the retrieval of 98% of the Boeing 747 aircraft.

The Lake George area and Dunhams Bay Resort, have served as the backdrop for state police dive training since the early 1960s. Today the organization serves as the model for departments across the country, and remains highly respected throughout the various state, federal law enforcement, and military communities.

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