After drowning, Tempe police to now carry water rescue bags

Sean "Madrocks" Bickings drowned in Tempe Town Lake on May 28.
Sean "Madrocks" Bickings drowned in Tempe Town Lake on May 28.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Aug. 20, 2022 at 2:25 PM MST
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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The City of Tempe is implementing new rescue procedures and equipment months after video showed officers do nothing as a homeless man drowned in a city lake.

City officials announced Friday that all Tempe police officers will now carry water rescue throw bags. They have already received training on how to use them.

Also, water rescue rings attached to 100-foot (30-meter) ropes will be installed this fall around Tempe Town Lake, where the drowning occurred.

An outcry erupted after Tempe police released edited body camera videos and a transcript from the May 28 death of Sean Bickings.

The video shows the 34-year-old man climb over a 4-foot (1.2-meter) fence along the lake and start swimming.

The transcript shows two officers repeatedly told Bickings to swim to a pylon and “hold on.” Bickings continuously pleaded for help but an officer said he would not go into the water.

The local officers’ union said officers are not trained to do water rescues.

An investigation led by the Scottsdale Police Department determined the three officers present acted properly. They have since returned to duty after being on paid administrative leave.