Grant used to buy helmet and dive suits for Dive Team. (Courtesy photo)

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Underwater Search & Recovery Team (Dive Team) has important new safety equipment, thanks to a donation from local philanthropic organization, the Raintree Foundation. The Dive Team trained with the new equipment on Feb. 27 at Santa Barbara City College.

Due to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse’s outreach efforts, the Raintree Foundation awarded a $15,000 grant to the Sheriff’s Office.  The grant was used to buy a diving helmet and dive suits that keep deputies safe as they navigate often treacherous underwater environments.

These environments often include hazardous materials such as decaying debris, pesticides, or sewage that are capable of spreading disease or infection if diving with recreational diving equipment.

“The Sheriff’s Dive Team has to perform in some of the most adverse conditions a diver could encounter,” said Sgt. Garrett TeSlaa. “This is not the kind of diving you do on your vacation.

“We train and prepare for these events regularly, and this donation from the Raintree Foundation greatly expands our capabilities to quickly and safely recover victims or evidence.

“The biggest purchase from the grant is a Kirby Morgan 97 helmet with an enclosed breathing apparatus and communications capabilities. This helmet and the dry suits eliminate many of the potential underwater hazards that divers face.”

The Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse’s mission is to supplement equipment and training for Santa Barbara County’s primary law enforcement personnel in its efforts to safeguard the community.

The posse helps fill the gap between the county’s increasing public safety needs for law enforcement and the tightening county budget.

“The posse is deeply indebted to the Raintree Foundation for their long-time support enabling the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office who keep us safe every day obtain much needed quality equipment to assist them in their vital work,” said Sara O’Shaughnessy, Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse president.

For more information on how to get involved and help support the Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse, visit

— Kelly Hoover for Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.