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Story

There are different ways to look at water. We float in its stillness, feel relaxed in its gentle waves, and get excited when it roars. Yet water can also conceal what lies underneath our eyes. A place where our deepest secrets sink to its bottom, guarded by the darkness. A place very few dare to reach, seeking the truth. 

With over forty years of experience, Sergeant Mike Berry trains his Search and Rescue Team (SRT) at the Virginia State Police office to safely and effectively retrieve evidence and bodies from the muddiest, coldest, darkest water bodies in the state. Throughout his career Mike has had the honor of being called upon to manage some of the largest and most dangerous underwater criminal investigations in the world, bringing justice to the families of the victims. 

When Mike joined the Virginia State Police diving unit back in 1995, the divers did not know much and crime scenes often got contaminated. It was Mike who invented the techniques to do underwater crime scenes processing used today across the world. His incredible inventiveness and efficiency gained him international recognition. PADI’s Public Safety Diver course is totally created by Mike, which means that every Public Safety Diver around the world has had to study Mike’s manual.

“I’ve always loved water, yet becoming a police officer was my dream. When I was presented with the opportunity to join the underwater criminal investigation unit in 1995, I knew I found exactly what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I was always the first one to get in the water and the last one to come out, never feeling tired or afraid of water. I feel that God put me into this world to do exactly this.” says Mike. 

Not everyone is cut for this job, many panic and develop PTSD after retrieving their first body. Mike understands that and works very closely with his Unit to help them get through their darkest moments. He reminds them that “where others see darkness, we shine a light. Without us, too many cases would go unsolved, too many families would not find closure”. 

Through Mike's and the SRT voices, this short documentary intends to explore our deepest fears and warmest love for water in this line of work. 

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