Kolby Crossley, the Auburn Police Department’s new public information office, relaxes with his wife, Alyssa, and Bear, their 100-pound Great Pyrenees. Courtesy photo

Kolby Crossley, the Auburn Police Department’s new public information office, relaxes with his wife, Alyssa, and Bear, their 100-pound Great Pyrenees. Courtesy photo

Auburn Police Department hires former TV reporter as spokesperson

First civilian public information officer

Someone within the Auburn Police Department has to deal with the press, respond to major incidents, and let residents know how its officers are interacting with the public.

The problem is that serving as the APD’s public information officer has not been a coveted role for the uniformed officers who have circulated in and out of the temporary assignment over the years.

After all, those guys became police officers to be where the action is, to chase the bad dudes and set things right with the world.

It was with those officers in mind that the APD recently hired Kolby Crossley, 27, a former television news reporter, to be its first, full-time, non-uniformed civilian public information officer.

Used to looking at police from the other side of the law enforcement-press divide, Crossley explained how he sees his role.

“I feel I can be a lot of help here,” Crossley said earlier this week. “The information will go through me, so it kind of relieves the pressure on the uniformed officers.”

“My philosophy is pretty simple: I’m here to share the information from the police department, and I want to try to be as fluent with the police and press as possible, so that no information is lost. And I hope to help make the police department a little more transparent with the community, and to be as fair and impartial as possible,” Crossley said.

Crossley grew up in the tiny city of Odessa in the wheat fields of Eastern Washington, and graduated from Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication in 2016.

“I went from there to two years as a television news reporter in Bozeman, Montana, doing the evening shows for a year, then switched to ‘Wake up, Montana,’ the morning show,” he said. “After my second year in Montana, my contract expired. I moved up to the bigger market of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where I stayed for the next two and a half years and also worked on the morning show, ‘Good Morning, Colorado.’ I have been kind of the on-the-spot guy for news for the last five years.”

Crossley and his wife, Alyssa, who was raised in Ridgefield, Wash., near Vancouver, came to miss their native state and families, and began to scout for opportunities to get back home.

“With the life in TV news, you are constantly climbing, and we were constantly moving every couple of years and not knowing if we were going to be able to get back to Washington. It wasn’t the path my wife, who is a teacher, and I wanted to continue to take, so that’s when I started looking for other jobs, and I came across this one,” Crossley said.

The Crossleys settled into a duplex in Puyallup with the present center of their lives, Bear, an impressive 100-pound Great Pyrenees that could be mistaken for a polar bear.

When he’s not working, Crossley said, he’s probably feeding his insatiable appetite for sports.

“My dad is from New York, so I grew a big New York sports fan, including the Yankees and the Giants and the Knicks and the New York Rangers for hockey and obviously, all Washington state sports. It’s almost like a religion to me,” Crossley said.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, Crossley will be at the Auburn PD, controlling its social media pages (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), pushing out stories and videos from the day and answering press calls. And when he’s not there, he’ll be out in the community with officers.

“With my background and expertise in reporting and sharing messages from the community, I feel that’s a way I can really help to sell this department. When officers look at something, it’s different from the way I look at something. So I am constantly thinking, how would the public view this?

“I’ve worked so closely with PIOs over the last five years, that I think I know exactly the way that I want to portray myself to the media, to reporters and the press, because I know exactly how hard it is to be a reporter who’s trying to meet a deadline and have a PIO who is not responding,” Crossley said.

Crossley said that when he told his PIO friends in Colorado Springs about his career change, they were ready with a joke common in reporting circles.

“They said, ‘Welcome to the dark side.’”

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Kolby Crossley, the Auburn Police Department’s new public information officer, when he was a television reporter in Colorado Springs, Colo. Courtesy photo.

Kolby Crossley, the Auburn Police Department’s new public information officer, when he was a television reporter in Colorado Springs, Colo. Courtesy photo.

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