NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco news reporters know him better than most sources. If you watch or read any amount of crime stories out of this county, you've seen his name. Doug Tobin has spent the last decade showing up to crime scenes around the clock in his signature pleated pants, leather loafers and kelly green Sheriff's Office windbreaker, answering questions about arrests in the serious TV news reporter's voice he carried over from his days on the other side of the camera.
Now, that voice will be speaking for the county.
Feb. 18 is Tobin's first day as the Pasco County government's first full-time public information officer. He will take up the position where tourism manager Ed Caum tended to media inquiries part-time. The move ends the near-decade he spent with the Sheriff's Office, hammering out press releases, organizing press conferences and sometimes answering 1 a.m. phone calls to field reporters' questions at crime scenes.
"Of course, we're sad to see Doug leave," said Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco. "But it was a great hire by our county. But it just shows that we're working great together and with Doug working there, we're going to be working better."
In 2004, when hurricanes criss-crossed the state, Tobin remembers taking cover in the county's emergency operations center to send out information. He was on scene in 2007 when an F1 tornado hit the Land O'Lakes jail. In 2011, he was the sheriff's go-to for the media when the Dougherty trio led law enforcement across the country on an eight-day manhunt after being accused of shooting at a Zephyrhills police officer.
"That's been my goal as (public information officer), is to get timely accurate info to you as quickly as possible," Tobin said. "I'd like to say that I have a good working relationship with reporters."
Those experiences, said Caum, a long-time public information officer in the Army, make Tobin perfect for the position. In the new role, Tobin will be working with community outreach, emceeing at opening ceremonies, answering media inquiries and working on the county's 24/7 public access TV channel. A perfect fit, Caum said, with Tobin's TV experience.
Tobin, 49, started as a weekend anchor at Bay News 9 in 1999 and also covered morning breaking news until 2002. Before that, he worked at news stations in Iowa and South Dakota. In 1990, he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism, with minors in political science and history from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He was born in Rapid City, S.D.
When he moved south for the Bay News 9 job, Tobin said, he fell in love with Tampa Bay. When his contract with the station ended, he decided to stay and took a job with the Sheriff's Office. Now, he'll be working across the government center's parking lot from his old office. He said he's glad to be staying in the same area.
"He'll be an asset to the community," Caum said. "Because he cares deeply about Pasco County."
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