Underwater Recovery Team (URT)
The Underwater Recovery Team, formed in 1982, is made up of nine specially-trained members drawn from across the organization.
Initial training for new members is focused on learning the concepts of line searches, evidence recovery, zero visibility diving and tending techniques for both SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) and Surface Supplied diving. Divers are required to achieve a level of competency set by the Canadian Standards Association for Occupational SCUBA Diver.
A higher level of competency is required in the area of Surface Supplied (helmet) Diving. The Canadian Standards Association sets this level of Restricted Surface Supplied Diver as well. Once the member has met this standard, more advanced techniques are learned, including confined spaces, ice diving, contaminated environments, rigging and hoisting, lifting submerged vehicles, air crash recovery and deep air diving to 165-feet, to name a few.
The URT's highly specialized dive equipment, including custom built dry suits, dive helmets and positive-pressure full-face masks, provides divers with completely closed environments that allow them to safely enter into any form of contaminated water.
Operational dives by the Underwater Recovery Team have recovered victims of drowning as well as many pieces of evidence crucial to criminal investigations. The waters in which the URT has deployed are vast, ranging from the depths of Lake Simcoe to the sewer systems of the City of Markham.
The York Regional Police Underwater Recovery Team is one of only six dive teams across Ontario that specializes in recovering evidence and investigating possible fatalities in the region's waterways. They participate annually in joint force training with the other five specialized dive teams in the province for sub-ice dive training.
The unit assists other police services when required and trains on a regular basis to maintain a team-building apporach to underwater recovery.