There are some people, like Kanye West, who thrive on awards and attention – stealing the spotlight whenever possible. Then, there are others like Timothy Wilmarth, an enforcement officer with NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE), who gets satisfaction from the work they do, rather than from awards or any kind of fame.
So, when he was named the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife’s Officer of the Year during the recent Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association annual conference, it’s no surprise he was humbly thankful.
“I’m just doing my job,” said Wilmarth. “I didn’t expect to win or get any accolades. I enjoy what I do.”
Lt. Eric Provencher, OLE supervisory enforcement officer, said, “Tim is the quintessential quiet professional. He has a quiet demeanor; he’s very intelligent and doesn’t complain. If you need something done, he does it… he knows what he has to do to get the job done.”
Wilmarth has more than 13 years in the law enforcement industry, beginning shortly after graduating from the University of Maine in 1997 with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. While he took a short sabbatical from the uniformed lifestyle, the 9/11 attack reignited his desire to serve.
“I wanted to be involved,” Wilmarth said. “I felt very frustrated sitting at a cubicle and wanted to do my part.”
He enlisted in the Coast Guard Reserve and served as a ranger for the National Park Service for seven years before landing at NOAA in 2011. Wilmarth explained that he thoroughly enjoyed the “natural resources aspect” to his job with the park service, so the transition to NOAA was simple.
“It’s rewarding and it’s nice helping the environment and people,” he said.
But, he’s busy. OLE officers have large areas of responsibility, which can be challenging. Each community within that area faces different hardships and has a wide variety of concerns and views of the law enforcement field. Wilmarth covers three states – Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts – which includes the largest port in the United States, New Bedford, in terms of value of catch landed. His role in the Northeast also includes working with his local National Marine Sanctuary, Stellwagen Bank, where he assists with natural and historical resource protection.
“Covering a large geographic area, I rely heavily on my counterparts and (State Enforcement Officials) to accomplish the mission,” said Wilmarth, adding that he tries to “preemptively get out an educate folks.”
The self-described reserved educator works hard to build relationships throughout the community. He explained that it’s “easier to talk to people when they don’t feel threatened.” And while it’s no simple feat to navigate the regulations and ever-changing climate of fisheries, Wilmarth believes that building stronger relationships and maintaining his approachable character will make for more collaborative and responsive working environments for all parties; fishermen, state partners, scientists, etc.
"Tim is a tremendous asset to our team. Being recognized by the Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association as our officer of the year is a great accomplishment,” said Logan Gregory, acting deputy director for OLE. “This award recognizes his dedication and commitment to marine resource law enforcement. We have a great team of Law Enforcement Officers and Special Agents, we are very proud of Tim and his work.”
Story by Ally Rogers, communications specialist for NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement. To contact her, please call 301-427-8255 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.