Missouri Highway Patrol’s Marine Division trains in water survival

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A dozen Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers hit the water over and over again, wearing full uniforms, shoes and weighted gun belts.

“If someone gets upset with you or decides they want to take you into the water, we’re training our officers how to disengage with them and then tactfully come on up in a different location than they would expect," Missouri State Highway Patrol Sergeant David Echternacht explained.

“You are apprehensive at first if you’ve never experienced it, because it can be kind of intimidating. But after you’ve done it once or twice, you realize there’s nothing to worry about," Trooper Adam Rice said.

Rice was one of 12 troopers training Thursday at the Trooper Frederick Guthrie Jr. Memorial Training Tank in Jefferson City.

Guthrie was swept away in 2011 flood waters in Northwest Missouri. The training tank opened shortly after his death and provides yearly training for the 81 troopers who are part of the MSHP water patrol.

Troopers say it’s a stark reminder of the dangers they face on the water.

“Fortunately situations like this aren’t the norm but in the past we’ve had situations where people have tried to take us into the water or tackled us in the water. It’s a shame I have to teach them this, but it’s a life saving necessity that I do," Sgt. Echternacht explained.

Adam Rice joined the water patrol division after a dozen years on the roads because he says he saw too many people not being safe on the water. He’s thankful for the training to keep him safe as well.

“All it’s done is increased my confidence and definitely prepared me to go out and serve citizens of Missouri on the waterway," Rice said of the four-week course.