Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Specialist Who Bridges the Communication Gap

On Duty

Photos by Andrea Murphy Leiner

Tristan Ashby, 21
Public Education Specialist for MIPD 

Tristan Ashby began his tenure with the city at the age of 16. That’s right, 16. As the son of Marco employee, Tristan qualified for a city internship program and spent his last two years of high school toiling in the Code Enforcement office. “There was a lot of filing,” jokes Ashby. But the experience and relationships gained during his time at Code Enforcement laid the groundwork for a college internship at MIPD, and now his current position as Public Education Specialist for the Marco Island Police Department.  

“Our main priority in Public Education is making sure that the public is aware of information pertinent to themroad closures, traffic accidents, bike laws. Through social media and the city website, we try to create a direct line of communication between the police department and the residents of Marco Island,” explained Tristan. 

Messaging and branding are concepts batted around by nearly everyone these days, and our municipalities are no exception. Communication, specifically online communication, is a crucial tool for police departments to build community relationships. By helping provide updates to the city website and the MIPD Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts, Tristan appreciates “being able to help bridge the gap between officers and citizens”.  

Part of bridging the gap comes with understanding the police culture. Tristan’s father has served at MIPD since 2009 when the family moved down from Canton, Ohio and is the current Tommie Barfield Elementary Resource Officer. Officer Ashby had previously been with the Stark County Sheriff’s Office, and the family found a welcome home with the MIPD.  

Photos by Andrea Murphy Leiner

“I love the department and the atmosphere,” shares Tristan, “everyone feels like an extended family.” And for Tristan, family means a lot. “I’m not motivated by money, I’m a family person. I would rather do something that I enjoy here and have the holidays with my family.” 

The eldest of three children, Tristan is a product of the Marco Island school system and graduates this May with a BA in Communications at Gulf Coast University. “I don’t want to be a police officer, but I love being able to go out into the community and be a part of the engagement between people and the officers.”  

Another aspect of Tristan’s job is to document police happenings in the city through photography. Whether it’s Coffee with a Cop or Pizza with the Police, you will find Tristan at most community events capturing the moment and creating videos to share across social media. “Every day is something different. Right now, I am working on a project with the Collier County Sherriff’s Office videography team to create a recruiting video which really highlights what our officers do. Recruiting great talent is a big push for the department right now, and the video will reach officers all over the country.”  

Tristan’s work also extends to the Emergency Management Team for the City. During hurricane season, Tristan’s role shifts to community education coming straight from the Emergency Operations Center, updating residents on rapidly shifting events so they can make safe, informed decisions for themselves and their families.  

When Tristan isn’t at work, a part-time position that he is hoping will soon become full-time, he is usually heading to the beach or helping his girlfriend, a local sea life artist, at her studio. “Our community is awesome,” enthuses Tristan. “I love the fact that the beach is five minutes away, no matter where you live. And I love going to Publix and running into people I know.” 

The close bond of our community is a special one that extends from the police department to our citizens. “Don’t be afraid to build relationships with local law enforcement, Tristan suggests. “They have taken care of my family in the past and look out for anyone who needs it.” 

So, next time you see a Tweet or Facebook post from the MIPD, know that there is a good chance Tristan Ashby is behind itone of our homegrown residents who has chosen to dedicate himself to community and family. 

For more information on the MIPD, check out their posts at: 

  • Facebook: Marcoislandpolicedepartment  
  • Twitter: Marcoislandpd  
  • Instagram: Marcoislandpolicedept  

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