Lynn Haven Commission Debates Chief’s Status Amid Legal Issues

The Lynn Haven City Commission recently convened to address the sensitive issue involving Chief Ry, who faced potential litigation and administrative measures following a parking lot accident and subsequent misdemeanor charge. The Commission, advised by legal and HR counsel, engaged in a discussion regarding the appropriate course of action in light of the ongoing investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol and the pending decision from the state attorney.

Central to the meeting was the debate over whether or not to place Chief Ry on administrative leave. The city’s HR counsel advised against it, citing concerns that such a move could be perceived as punitive and possibly interfere with the ongoing investigation. Moreover, it was emphasized that Chief Ry had been cleared for full duty by medical and psychological professionals without any restrictions, and the HR counsel highlighted the legal definitions of “arrest” to clarify Chief Ry’s situation.

The attorney advised the Commission to avoid making any premature decisions that could lead to legal exposure and liability. The discussion also covered the ramifications of wrongful termination, with a focus on discrimination and potential lawsuits against the city, emphasizing the need for a justified reason for termination, especially when a protected health condition is implicated.

Questions arose regarding the timing and communication of the incident, with concerns expressed about the delay in informing the Commission of the citations against Chief Ry. The discussion revealed differing viewpoints on handling the situation, with considerations for legal, ethical, and public perception factors. The city’s attorney recommended maintaining the current course of action, which involves waiting for the legal matters to conclude before taking any steps.

Public commentary was a notable part of the meeting, with citizens voicing their disappointment in the handling of the situation. Concerns were raised about the integrity of the police chief and the city manager’s management of the information. One citizen emphasized the police chief’s responsibility to uphold integrity, while others questioned the timeline of the events.

The possibility of a discrimination case based on protected health information was discussed, with the HR counsel mentioning that such a case could be actionable under the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It was noted that there is typically no individual liability for the Commissioners in employment discrimination cases under federal law.

The Commission also addressed the broader topic of freedom of speech within the context of the city’s governance. A debate ensued over the perception of stifling speech, the need for respectful discourse, and the consequences of public statements, especially on social media. Citizens and Commission members alike called for transparency and accountability in city leadership, with references to specific incidents and power dynamics within the city.

The meeting concluded with a motion to maintain the status quo, pending the resolution of the legal matters, which was seconded and approved. The Commission decided to continue closely monitoring the situation, with the understanding that city staff would confer with the counsel. Additionally, it was noted that in the event of a federal lawsuit, the city would typically be covered by Employment Practices Liability Insurance.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Jesse Nelson
City Council Officials:
Sam Peebles, Jamie Warrick, Judy Vandergrift, Pat Perno

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