NASBLA 2021 Regional Boating Officers of the Year Announced
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 07, 2021) - The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) is excited to announce this year’s regional winners of the Butch Potts Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award. This award symbolizes the highest level of achievement among boating law enforcement officers throughout the United States.
The selection process for this award began in January with NASBLA soliciting nominations from each state and territory to nominate their 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 will be announced at the 61st Annual NASBLA Conference during the awards ceremony held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Conservation Officer Arnaud Kpachavi, of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR), has been named the 2021 Northern Region Officer of the Year. Officer Kpachavi has been a state conservation officer since January 2016. Ofc. Kpachavi is a hard worker and professional law enforcement officer. He has taken on many roles with increasing responsibility over the past four years. Ofc. Kpachavi has become a vital component of the department’s efforts in boating and water safety. He has quickly become the face of the MN DNR for not only boating and water safety, but also for the DNR recruitment efforts through countless media appearances. Officer Kpachavi actively participates in numerous boating enforcement details across the entire state. He understands the division’s missions in boating and water safety, and exceeds district goals in BWI arrests every year. As a result of his boating enforcement efforts, Ofc. Kpachavi has increased the safety of boaters, swimmers and other recreational users on many of Minnesota’s busiest recreational and fishing lakes. Officer Kpachavi is respected by his supervisors, partners, members of the community, local law enforcement, and court officials. Very few officers have the same dedication and work ethic as Ofc. Kpachavi when it comes to boating and water safety. Read more about Officer Arnaud Kpachavi’s achievements throughout his career.
Texas Game Warden Hani Raj Ataya, of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), has been named the Southern Region Officer of the Year for 2021. Warden Ataya is stationed in Orange County, Texas, and regularly patrols all of its major waterbodies for recreational water safety enforcement. Contrary to most of his peers who would prefer to patrol by land on most days, Warden Ataya’s favorite part of being a Texas game warden is the time he spends patrolling on the water. He is very experienced and enjoys operating every patrol platform in the district, including the 29’ PV Pauling twin-outboard offshore boat, center console Majek and TranSport bay boats, airboats, and more. Warden Ataya’s patrol efforts for boating safety this year led Region 4, and most of the state, with an impressive 692 boat patrol hours. During those patrols, he issued 129 written warnings and 72 citations explicitly for water safety violations, along with giving countless verbal warnings and advice about being safe on the water. Warden Ataya’s work ethic, thirst for knowledge, and sheer determination have led him to become an extremely successful and effective Texas game warden. He continues to be a mentor and friend to all of his fellow officers and is well-respected by the recreational boating community. Find out more in the full press release about Texas Game Warden Hani Raj Ataya.
Sergeant Ken Mencl, of the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office (TFCSO), has been named the 2021 Western Region Officer of the Year. Sergeant Mencl is the supervisor of the School Resource Officer (SRO) program for the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office in Idaho. Over the last two years, he, along with his fellow SROs, has made significant strides in making the marine program one of the strongest programs in the state. The bulk of the marine work in both 2019 and 2020 fell primarily on the backs of two school resource officers, with some help from other deputies who signed up to work. From 2019 to 2020, the number of boat inspections that these two officers conducted increased by over 130%. Likewise, the number of citations that were issued increased from 2019 to 2020 by more than 85%. Despite the setback we all experienced due to COVID-19, these officers increased the number of educational classes by over 407%. With all of the contacts that occurred, a total of 1,194 warnings were issued. Sgt. Mencl’s technical skills are second to none, but his ability to deal with the public and promote boating and water safety education, is what makes him stand out from the rest. He is a great leader for his team and consistently brings a positive attitude to the work environment. Learn more about Sergeant Ken Mencl’s accomplishments.
These officers are not only distinguished in their law enforcement activities, but also in their outreach efforts within their community. Each of these officers put in the extra time and effort to assist with work beyond their assigned duties to set an example for their fellow officers and enhance the safety of their state’s waterways. These officers are the reason why millions of boaters across the nation are able to safely enjoy our waterways each year. NASBLA is pleased to have these three men representing the nation as the regional Officer of the Year recipients.
All three regional award winners are invited to this year’s NASBLA Annual Conference. This year’s conference will take place from September 26 – 29, 2021, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Regional awards will be presented at the awards luncheon during the conference. Additionally, the National Boating Officer of the Year winner will be announced at the banquet scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 28. Find out more about the regional winners of the 2021 Officer of the Year award.
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.
The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) is a national nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety. NASBLA represents the recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories. We offer a variety of resources, including training, model acts, education standards, publications and more. Through a national network of thousands of professional educators, law enforcement officers and volunteers, we affect the lives of nearly 85 million American boaters.