What Every Police Officer Needs to know about A Pool Drowning Investigation

Police officers need to know the following in regards to conducting an onsite investigation immediately following a pool drowning.  Officers routinely immediately seek out witnesses and people with relevant information regarding their personal observations.  However, talking to witnesses is not enough.  The following checklist is handy for all police officers to keep in mind.  Water Clarity conditions must also be observed.  Is the water crystal clear as required or is the water murky or cloudy.  Is the main drain visible in the deepest part of the pool?  Officers should take photos of the water clarity and add notes regarding their observations of the water clarity.  Secondly, officers should check all gates leading into the pool to ensure that they are self latching and gated.  Additionally, they should ensure that the fence pickets are all in place. Observations should also be made with regard to float ropes and deep demarcation lines in the pool.

Public pools should also be equipped with emergency equipment such as an emergency phone that dials 911, reach poles, and ring buoys with ropes.  If those items are not present, that should go into the investigation report.  Officers should also check the lighting to ensure that all pool light work.  If any lights are not functioning this must also be included in the officer's report.  Officers should also observe whether or not there is adequate lighting around the pool area.

Officers who arrive on the scene may also wish to call the local health inspector to the scene to also perform a health inspection regarding any pool violations that may be present at the time of the investigation. 

Alerting the Health Department is essential to allowing properly trained pool regulators the opportunity to inspect the pool as soon as possible after a drowning event.  If done correctly, valuable evidence and observations can be retained and may prove helpful to family members and pool owners/operators with questions about pool conditions at the time of drowning.