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Sergeant Dana Cuff

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A woman in a T-shirt and baseball cap holds a rubber suit.

A blonde woman stands in front of a frozen lake in a black rubber suit.

Sergeant Dana Cuff has what it takes.

When she first came to YRP from Toronto Police Service in 2007, the thought of becoming a member of the Underwater Recovery Team (URT) had never entered her mind.

In fact, she didn't even know such an opportunity existed. But luckily, her first assignment was at #3 District where she worked closely with members of the Marine Unit and the rest, as they say, is history In fact, Sergeant Cuff is the lone female officer currently serving as an underwater recovery diver in Ontario and one of a few in Canada to suit up for the task.

Why did you choose a career in policing?

When I was first deciding on a career in policing, I was surprised about how many opportunities policing offers. It's a real career within a career. Whether it's working on frontline patrol, in the Criminal Investigations Bureau or as a member of the URT, you can find an area in which you excel and make a real difference in the community.

What was one of your most impactful experiences on the job as a member of the Underwater Recovery Team?

My first dive with the URT was in response to a missing fisherman. We knew it was likely he wouldn't be found alive due to the conditions, and tragically, we were correct. We were able to recover the body and bring closure to a grieving family and that gave me a sense of satisfaction. Although every case or every dive won't have a positive outcome, we can hopefully help bring a resolution and provide people with some answers.

How did your experience as a uniform officer prepare you for your future assignments?

For me, the biggest thing that stands out is that you're always a part of a team. It's the key to success in every area of policing.

How did it feel to become part of the Underwater Recovery Team?

I'm proud to be a part of the team and to introduce women to an opportunity they may not have even considered. It's challenging physically. We carry close to 100 pounds when we're in our full dive suit, so fitness plays a key role. But being mentally ready for a dive can be even more challenging. There are times when you're surrounded in complete blackness or you're diving under ice. It becomes a mental game and it doesn't matter if you're male or female - only if you can get the job done.  

What drew you to the Underwater Recovery Team?

It was the time spent working closely with the Marine Unit that made me want to be a part of the team. The URT is a close-knit group. We need to be as we rely on each other every step of the way. There are five people involved in every dive and every role is as important as the next. It's amazing to be a part of it.

What are the traits of a good diver?

You need to be a good communicator and be willing to put in some hard work. You also need to be a team player. Teamwork is a huge part of the URT and the safety of the diver relies on every member of the team.  

What advice do you have for officers starting their career with YRP?

Learn as much about the organization as possible and what opportunities are available to you. Then set goals and work towards what you want to achieve. There are great opportunities out there and a lot of support to help you reach your goals.