Lieutenant Thomas Wanless
A lifelong boater from Frankenmuth, Michigan, Thomas Wanless has participated in motorized and non-motorized boating most of his life. When growing up, he spent most of his boating time canoeing on the Au Sable River and oaring a small rowboat on Lake Margrethe. Now he spends time on Michigan’s inland lakes.
“Early in my 17-year career [with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources], I was inspired to be involved in teaching these safety programs and enjoyed it. I knew back then that I wanted to be more involved with the recreational safety programs and have an impact on them to keep them going in a positive, professional direction,” said Tom.
Through his career as a field conservation officer and a field supervisor, he stayed involved by teaching classes in his off time and attending classes at work to engage with new users. He also had an interest in investigating recreational vehicle/vessel crashes and incidents.
After the former BLA accepted a new position within the Division and transferred out, Tom was the selected to fill the position in May 2015.
“I am very fortunate to have been selected for this position. My first month was a whirlwind. Prior to the promotion I was a sergeant in the section and my primary focus was the hunter education program. When I promoted, I had a sharp learning curve with the marine safety program while remaining responsible for the day-to-day operations of the other programs,” he said.
With regards to recreational boating safety, Tom sees one of the biggest issues is the need to have recreational boaters WEAR their life jackets. He would also like to increase drunk boating awareness/outreach as well as increase enforcement efforts statewide. Education is another area he would like to improve.
“I would like to work on providing advanced boating safety programs that go into more detail or into a specific area of safe boating. These programs would be for the individual who has taken a basic safety class and wants to learn more,” he added.
Tom is a life member of the National Rifle Association, a member of the Michigan Snowmobile Association and a member of other wildlife/conservation organizations.
Colonel Corey L. Britcher
Hailing from Newport, Pennsylvania, Col. Corey Britcher enjoys both power boating and kayaking. He was promoted to colonel of the Bureau of Law Enforcement in August 2012. The agency was reorganized in July 2015, placing the boating responsibilities to include the BLA under the Bureau of Law Enforcement.
Corey views biggest pressing needs in boating safety today to be getting rid of impaired operators and furthering education. Since taking the helm of the Bureau of Law Enforcement, he says the section has stepped up their BUI training and patrol.
“We will continue to educate and enforce BUI throughout the state and on all boats, not just the big power boats,” he added.
In addition to his involvement with NASBLA, Col. Britcher is active with the Pennsylvania Police Chiefs Association and the Pennsylvania DUI Association.
Captain Calvin Fulton
Calling Dekalb, in the east central part of Mississippi, home, Capt. Calvin Fulton is an avid angler and duck hunter. He also enjoys boating with his family on the weekends, just relaxing and making memories.
Calvin has worked for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks for more than 25 years. He began as a sworn lake manager in the Fisheries Bureau in 1989 and worked up through the ranks to sergeant. He was promoted to lieutenant and assigned in 2000 as the Hunter Safety Coordinator/Investigator in the Law Enforcement Bureau. In 2007, he was promoted to captain and took over the administration of Hunter and Boating Education and later Law Enforcement Training. The BLA title was added to his duties as Law Enforcement Training Administrator in July 2015.
When asked his views on the biggest pressing need in boating safety today, Calvin said, “I would like to say that educating the public on the importance of wearing their life jacket, but that is what we have been doing and we are still having boaters fall from their vessels and drown. So it is time to push for mandatory life jacket wear while underway.”
In addition, he says his department will focus on boating under the influence enforcement and concentrated efforts of BUI enforcement across the state, in an effort to reduce boating related incidents/accidents in the future.