June 7, 2012
El Dorado officer stresses education, enforcement in keeping busy lake safe
PRATT — Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) natural resource officer Tyson Neilson, El Dorado, has received the agency’s 2012 Boating Officer of the Year Award. The award is given annually to the boating officer who demonstrates dedication and achievement above and beyond the call of duty.

“In the course of a boating officer’s career, it would be impossible to predict the number of lives he has saved or injuries he has prevented,” said Dan Heskett, KDWPT’s boating officer administrator. “But Tyson Neilson’s efforts on one of Kansas’ busiest recreational reservoirs — El Dorado — have been exceptional.”

Neilson began his career with KDWPT on Nov. 11, 2001. From the beginning, he has been seen as one of the top boating enforcement officers in the state, taking pride in the safety of people who recreate on Kansas waters. He was nominated by three other officers, including a first-line supervisor and two neighboring officers.

“Through dedicated enforcement and education, Officer Nielsen’s actions have increased awareness of the dangers of violating the safety rules and laws associated with the operation of vessels,” Heskett said. “Through aggressive education efforts, he has greatly increased the wear-rate and accessibility of life jackets on El Dorado Reservoir. In addition, his personal campaign to combat the operation of vessels under the influence of alcohol or drugs has had a dramatic affect on the boating community. Because of these efforts, boaters on El Dorado Reservoir now police their own ranks and have purchased preliminary breath-testing instruments for use prior to operating their own vessels after a day of partying.”

Nielsen’s efforts include coordination of numerous boating education efforts such as Operation Dry Water during the summer of 2011; dozens of vessel inspections; presentation of boating programs; composition and delivery of boating-related news releases; and working numerous drug and boating under the influence cases.

Nielsen also maintains an informational blog for boaters at El Dorado. He conducts programs at local schools, hunter education classes, and KDWPT law and regulation training for other law enforcement agencies. He has recently volunteered to be one of four area coordinators for the agency’s Boating Education Program.

“That El Dorado, one of the busiest reservoirs in our state, had zero boating accidents last year is a testament to Officer Neilson’s philosophy of comprehensive education and law enforcement,” Heskett added. “It was a pleasure to see him honored with this award.”