Three officers attached to the San Pedro Tourism Police Unit have now joined the ranks of PADI Open Water Certified divers. The officers took the course over the period of September 4th through 8th which was offered by the San Pedro Tourist Guide Association (SPTGA). Four officers started the course, however only three completed. Taking the course were Police Constable Kendis Humes, Police Constable Richard Nunez, Special Constable Germain Crawford and Special Constable Kenny Ferguson. SC Ferguson did not complete the Open Water Course but is however allowed to dive within the reef.

Sharmane Young, Woman Corporal 834 NCO IC (Corporal in charge of the Tourism Police Units) for San Pedro Caye Caulker spoke of what this means for her unit; "Well, I must say that the industry that we're in requires that we are out there on the sea. As such, we have tourism police officers out there on a regular basis. It is not uncommon that we have incidents that require our officers to be informed and trained. This course will assist these officers in terms of preparation. It will give them an idea of what is to be expected, what not to expect and also what to do as to offer assistance when it becomes necessary."

President of the San Pedro Tourist Guide Association Billy Leslie commented that this is just yet another way in which the SPTGA strives to give back to the community in which its members reside and work. "The SPTGA; with its continued effort of providing service back to the community through its members has chosen to assist our tourism police personnel in giving them training about water activities. This is the first step in which they completed the open water training and the training will continue so that they can have more knowledge in any water related incident when doing their police checks and so forth."

Billy continued; "We have always had a great relationship with the tourism unit that ensures that licensed tour guides are always out there. In the past our relationship has always been assisting them with something they don't have for example, boats to go and patrol. We foresaw that training was much needed, especially when on their patrol and encountering someone in trouble. So we wanted to open their minds so that they can better understand what the reason for the trouble is and what they can do to assist."

This program is an attachment to the summer training program with kids from the various Primary and Secondary level schools on the island which took place during the summer. According to Leslie, this isn't the first time that the SPTGA has joined force with the police department in providing training; "I can recall about ten years back when we trained some five officers, all the way to the rescue diver training so we saw the need again and we completed that need."

The training was made possible through a coordinated effort between the SPTGA, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the San Pedro Police Tourism Police Unit, the US Association, PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and the various tour operators that continue to assist the tourist guide association when they venture into programs such as these.

SC Germain Crawford completed the PADI course and was very excited. "I feel pretty good and definitely want to continue the course. This course is great. I really enjoyed learning new things. Learning to dive was amazing. Seeing the different marine life and seeing the reef for the first time and even getting to know new people - this was a really great experience. And I am very excited to continue all the way to become a Rescue Diver."

WC Young ended by giving thanks to the SPTGA for this opportunity, "I would like to thank the SPTGA for the great assistance. I continue to work hand in hand with them and again when it comes to training I will always emphasize on how best we could facilitate officers so that they can work properly and more efficiently."

Further to the Open Water Courses, the officers will move on to continue by taking the Advanced Open Water Course and eventually the Rescue Diver Course.

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