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Brown County Acquires Sonar, Water Rescue Equipment Through Grant

sonar imagery of a sunken boat

Photo: Steve Burns (WFIU/WTIU News)

Indiana Conversation Officer Joseph Tenbarge points out a sunken boat at the bottom of Lake Monroe.

New technology is giving one Indiana county a better look at what’s at the bottom of Lake Monroe, and it’s helping law enforcement solve some cases.

Brown County Emergency Management received an almost $10,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security earlier this month. Part of that grant went to the purchase of sonar equipment.

The grant also funded the purchase of water rescue vests, dry suits and throw bags.

Brown County Emergency Management Director Susan Armstrong says there was a need for equipment that could be used for rescue during flooding since the county doesn’t have a dedicated swift water rescue team.

“Being a smaller county, we just don’t have the resources that some of the other counties have, so these grants are a godsend for us because we’re able to get those resources and equip my first responders,” she says.

The equipment purchased through the grant will be shared between different agencies, including Emergency Management in Monroe County and the state Department of Natural Resources.

“We work very hand-in-hand with the DNR. They do a lot of that work with us, with the water rescues because they have the boats. They have some of that equipment that the fire departments here because of funding aren’t able to get on their own,” she says.

And the technology’s being used for more than just water rescues. The DNR found a stolen car in Lake Monroe using the new sonar equipment. It also allowed officials to take higher quality images of a crane and boat that are also at the bottom of the lake.

  • pulling car out of lake

    Image 1 of 3

    Photo: Joseph Tenbarge

    The DNR recovered a stolencar from Lake Monroe after locating it using the new equipment.

  • sonar imagery of a crane

    Image 2 of 3

    Photo: Steve Burns (WFIU/WTIU News)

    A crane was left behind from when areas of Lake Monroe were quarries. Officials won't remove it now because it has become fish habitat.

  • sonar equipment

    Image 3 of 3

    Photo: Steve Burns (WFIU/WTIU News)

    The DNR had previously been using 10-year-old sonar equipment.

Indiana Conversation Officer Joseph Tenbarge says using sonar makes it easier for him and his team to work on dives.

“It’s taken away from the days of searching and feeling with your hands for hours and hours on end, here can just literally go right underwater, find it, recover it and be safe” he says.

So far, the new sonar equipment has only been used for training exercises.

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