MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Some of the most specialized crime-scene divers from around the country spent the week in a Twin Cities lake.

There are only about 60 underwater forensic divers in the United States. St. Paul police invited WCCO to get an exclusive look at this unique type of training in Stillwater.

At Square Lake in Stillwater, divers are submerging themselves in an underwater operation and St. Paul Police Department’s Sgt. John Adamek is captaining the assignment. Twenty-six agencies from Michigan to South Carolina, from Houston to the FBI are learning the specialized technique of underwater forensics from the St. Paul Police Department.

(credit: CBS)

“They are all coming here to receive training in underwater crime processing and explosive response procedures,” Adamek said.

Square Lake is ground zero due to its many underwater treasures, sunken items for recreational divers and for its clarity.

The divers are swimming around fake bodies and explosive decoys. For their Thursday training exercise, they are simulating an active crime scene underwater involving a sinking ship with explosives on board, and it’s a pretty clear perspective for the divers on a pretty nice day.

“We love the weather,” said Al Jarvis and Rich Menendez, both senior special agents with SLED, South Carolina’s state law enforcement agency,” We came from a very hot and sticky South Carolina. It’s very nice here. We love it.”

The special agents said they appreciated the complicated training in which only 60 U.S. divers are certified.

“It’s challenging enough to be a bomb technician, but something about doing it underwater makes it a lot more of a challenge,” Jarvis said. “There’s not a whole lot of people who do it. I think we’ve really enjoyed it.”

“The students here this week will be able to take this back to their home cities and continue on the path and make everybody safer,” Adamek added.

There are only four underwater units like this in Minnesota. The St. Paul Police unit patrols the east side of the state. They say the port in Duluth is their most active area.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield