Boating Officer of the Year

nominating: boating officer of the year

Nominations are open to all commissioned, certified or sworn peace officers authorized by the state to enforce the recreational boating safety laws of that state. Boating law administrators should nominate candidates who have made an outstanding contribution to boating safety through enforcement. A nominee should have performed an outstanding service to the agency or state in any facet of recreational boating safety including but not limited to enforcement, education, search and rescue, outreach, innovation, partnership, BUI enforcement, accident investigation, community service, and heroic action. Posthumous nominations are not eligible.

Three regional finalists will be chosen from among the state nominees and will win a paid trip to the NASBLA Annual Conference where the national boating officer of the year will be announced and recognized during the Awards Ceremony.

Nominations for this award must be submitted by a boating law administrator.

The nomination deadline for the Officer of the Year award was April 30, 2020. Nominations for 2020 are now closed!

View sample application.

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National boating officer of the year selected

NASBLA is pleased to announce the regional winners of the Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award. This award symbolizes the highest level of achievement among boating law enforcement officers in the U.S.

The selection process for this award began in January with NASBLA soliciting nominations for each state and territory boating law enforcement officer of the year. Next, each regional association of boating law administrators chose one regional award recipient, making that officer eligible for consideration for the national award. The national award recipient is announced during the NASBLA Annual Conference


National Winner 2020

N2VDbUL5QsGkpniMXhHA_Bunting, J.B..jpgNASBLA presented its prestigious national Boating Officer of the Year award to Corporal John Bunting with the Maryland Natural Resources Police. NASBLA congratulates Corporal John Bunting on receiving the National Boating Officer of the Year award in recognition of his dedication, commitment and impact on recreational boating safety.

Northern Region
Trooper Chad JuenkerTrooper Chad Juenker
New York State Police
Trooper Chad Juenker, of the New York State Police (NYSP), has been named the 2020 Northern Region Officer of the Year. For the past 15 years, Trooper Chad Juenker’s dedication to boating safety across New York State (NYS) has contributed significantly to the state’s overall effort to make the waterways safer for all boaters. Trooper Juenker began his career in marine law enforcement in 2005 in western New York, patrolling Lake Erie, the Niagara River and the NYS Canal System. Tpr. Juenker is now responsible for the operation of department vessels to include a 36’ Munson, 19’ Whalers, 10’ Sea Doo personal watercraft and others. His versatility with field assignments and watercrafts has made him indispensable to the marine patrol unit of the NYSP. 

In 2019, Tpr. Juenker was tasked with creating and implementing a new in-service training program for the NYSP. The program involves all aspects of marine law enforcement, including both classroom and on-water training for all members assigned to the marine, scuba and Special Operations Response Team (SORT) details. This program became available to approximately 200 troopers earlier this Spring.

Tpr. Juenker’s unwavering devotion to boating safety has made a positive impact on the experience of all users of New York State’s waterways. It comes with no denial that Tpr. Juenker’s passion, dedication and commitment to preventing incidents and saving lives have been exemplary throughout his career and certainly reflect positively on the entire marine law enforcement community. Congratulations Trooper Chad Juenker! Read the full press release

Southern Region

Corporal John BuntingCorporal John Bunting
Maryland Natural Resources Police

Corporal John Bunting, of the Maryland Natural Resources Police, has been named the Southern Region Officer of the Year for 2020. Corporal John Bunting has been employed by the Maryland Natural Resources Police since 2011. Over the course of his career, Cpl. Bunting has always exemplified each of the Agency's core values: courtesy, integrity, dedication and professionalism. He carries himself with pride and humility on and off the job and is well-respected throughout the law enforcement community, judicial system and by the people he serves.

In 2019, Cpl. Bunting responded to 830 calls for service, made contact with 760 recreational vessels, issued 737 safety violations, and completed 46 incident reports. He responded to a total of 12 boating incidents, and assumed the role of lead investigator for seven of them.  Throughout the year, Corporal Bunting made a total of 32 custodial arrests - 17 of which were for Boating Under the Influence (BUI). Not only did Cpl. Bunting lead the state in BUI enforcement, but also dedicated his time to mentoring fellow officers on the subject. Additionally, Cpl. Bunting consistently shares his techniques for report writing, detection and courtroom testimony to help lead to successful BUI prosecutions.

As a lifelong resident of Maryland, Cpl. Bunting’s knowledge of boating safety is second to none. He draws on experiences learned from an early age and extends them to his career in law enforcement. His dedication, integrity, professionalism and courtesy to others are exemplified every day on the job. Many would say that Cpl. Bunting is truly making a difference in the recreational boating community. Congratulations Corporal John Bunting! Read the full press release

Western Region

Sergeant Jared JonesSergeant Jared Jones
Utah Division of Parks and Recreation

Sergeant Jared Jones, of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, has been named the 2020 Western Region Officer of the YearSgt. Jones has spent the majority of his 20-year career working at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (Lake Powell), but spent some time at the Steinaker/Red Fleet/Flaming Gorge complex as well. Since the beginning of his career, Sgt. Jones has been active in the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation’s law enforcement training programs. He has served as an instructor for various courses including firearms, defensive tactics, boating operation and tactics, and more. Sgt. Jones is also a field training officer for the Division and assists the National Park Service in training their new rangers in operations on Lake Powell.

Sgt. Jones has left a great impact on many of his fellow officers. He has shaped many of Utah’s officers’ careers by being an outstanding mentor, leader and friend. Sgt. Jones continues to show immense patience when teaching new officers the boating basics, and goes the extra mile to ensure that they have ample opportunity to practice these new skills.

It is no doubt that Sgt. Jones has saved countless lives and prevented many injuries throughout the course of his career on Lake Powell and Flaming Gorge Reservoirs, and will be greatly missed upon his retirement in October 2020. Whether this was due to boating citations and arrests on the water, or the wealth of knowledge and insight he shared with his fellow officers, he has truly made a difference on Utah’s waterways. Congratulations Sergeant Jared Jones! Read the full press release

First presented in 2000, the Marvin “Butch” Potts Memorial Award, known as the Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award, is presented annually to the boating law enforcement officer who has made outstanding contributions to the field of boating law enforcement. The award program consists of three levels: state, regional and national.

2020 State Boating Officers of the Year

Northern Region

Officer Joshua Tefft, Connecticut

Officer Travis Anderson, Delaware

Conservation Officer Grant Gelly, Iowa

Conservation Police Officer Nicholas Reid, Illinois

Officer Matthew Maher, Indiana

Officer Rustin Ames, Maine

Officer Colin Haynes, Massachusetts

Mitch Lawler, Minnesota

Officer William J. Dansereau, New Hampshire

Trooper Chad Juenker, New York

Game Warden Drew Johnson, North Dakota

Waterways Conservation Officer Thomas Benevento, Pennsylvania

Officer Wendy Knowlton, Rhode Island

District Conservation Officer Supervisor Adam Geigle, South Dakota

Lieutenant Chris R. Groth, Wisconsin

Southern Region

Wildlife Officer Briston Gould, Arkansas

Officer Miguel Despian, Florida

Game Warden First Class Frank Pucci, Georgia

Corporal Joshua Laviolette, Louisiana

Corporal John Bunting, Maryland

Corporal Robert R. Wilkins, Missouri

Master Officer Brandon Barbee, North Carolina

Officer Dustin Buttram, Tennessee

Texas Game Warden Jerry Norris, Texas

Conservation Police Officer Brett Clawson, Virginia

Natural Resources Police Officer William “Keith” McGraw, West Virginia

Western Region


Deputy Sheriff Jim Cesolini, Arizona

Ranger II Max Feldman, Colorado

Deputy Caleb Watts, Idaho

Boating Specialist Scott Skucius, Kansas

Game Warden Ryan Drew, Nevada

Sergeant Jared Jones, Utah

(Those in bold text are the regional boating officers of the year.)


Previous Recipients