An integral part of the investigation into the armed invasion robbery is being performed by a unit officially formed today.
The Joint Agency In-Water Strike or JAWS team is made up of the Bay County Sheriff's Office, Panama City Fire Department, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, and Florida State Panama City's underwater criminology program.
The JAWS team will help reduce duplication of resources therefore saving money. It's also providing underwater criminology students with first-hand experience. This new team is already getting their feet wet.
It's the only underwater crime scene investigation program in the country. Dean Ken Shaw of Florida State University says, "Education that's practical is very very important to us."
And what's more practical than working alongside trained officials? "They'll be able to rub shoulders with the Panama City Fire Department and their staff, the Sheriff Department, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife so this is really important to our students," says Shaw.
According to Fish and Wildlife Major Bruce Cooper, the signing ceremony today was just an official start of what has already begun. Cooper says, "We had a really bad accident over in Destin to where a 32-foot vessel broke in half and there was a fatality and the boat sunk to the bottom. So we got our dive team together and dove to the bottom and took pictures and videos so we could reconstruct the accident."
The deep detectives are in fact diving this afternoon for the first time as official team mates. An armed robbery early this morning led to two arrests and a reported firearm in the bottom of a pond off Thomas Drive.
Cooper believes the combination of agencies makes them a one of a kind.
"You have fireman, they have their expertise. You have deputies, they have their expertise. You have fish and wildlife officers, and you have FSU which has the technology. Put all 4 of those together and you have an elite team," says Cooper.
According to one of the JAWS team members, the handgun used in the reported home invasion was recovered Thursday afternoon.