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Benton County To Use Tri-County Search and Rescue After Dive Team Suspension

BENTON COUNTY (KFSM)-- The Benton Count Sheriff's Office will now utilize a different team for land and water searches after the Benton County Dive Team suspended their operations.

Tri-County Search and Rescue is a group that helps with search and rescue efforts throughout multiple counties in the area.

They already respond to these incidents in Benton County.

Tri-County recently assisted with the missing Decatur woman and the search for the girl who drowned at War Eagle in July.

Sergeant Shannon Jenkins with the Benton County Sheriff's Office said the Benton County Dive Team was not a part of the sheriff's office.

"They do their own thing, they have their own budget through the county," Jenkins said. "They don't report to emergency management or us. We just utilize the dive team."

She said one of the reasons for the suspension was that the team felt like they needed more accountability.

To get this, Jenkins explained that they are working to become a part of the sheriff's office again.

This could take months to accomplish though because it needs to be approved by the Quorum Court.

Until that happens, Tri-County Search and Rescue will be the primary call.

Unit Leader George Stowe-Rains said this will not put a strain on them since they already respond to the county's calls.

He assured the public that they will be safe.

"Benton County wouldn't have done anything that would put their safety at risk," Stowe-Rains said. "Benton County knew they could approach us, we would fill the gap. They're still very safe in Benton County. There's no way their safety is compromised by what Benton County did."

Jenkins said they will miss having a crew in their own backyard, ready to go at a moments notice but that they still have a team ready to help.

She also said that the sheriff's office and the Benton County Fire Marshall all have equipment for water rescues.