Chief Asks for State Review of How Ty Ross Case Handled

By Mike Lednovich

Fernandina Beach Police Chief Jeff Tambasco has asked the State Attorney to review his department’s handling of the Oct. 29 alcohol-related bicycle accident involving City Manager Ty Ross.

The accident happened just 10 days after Ross had appointed Tambasco as police chief and Ross was just two weeks into the job as city manager.

Ross admitted at last Tuesday’s city commission meeting that he had too much to drink when he attempted to ride his bicycle home and crashed in the dark near the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and 14th Street.

Witnesses summoned police and when an officer arrived, Ross was sitting next to his bicycle on the front lawn of a house. He was incoherent when asked questions, according to police video of the incident. Shortly after learning that Ross was the city manager, police officers provided him a ride home and told him if he ever needed help again they would provide him with transportation to his house. Ross was not given a sobriety test and no charges were filed.

Ross did not report the incident to city commissioners. Ross issued an apology only after the Observer made a public records request on Nov. 28. Ross spoke about getting professional help for stress related issues at last Tuesday’s city commission meeting.

The city commission has set Dec. 19 for a special meeting to discuss what disciplinary measures should be taken in the aftermath of disclosure of the city manager’s conduct.

Tambasco has issued a press release stating:

“On October 29, 2023, at 7:36PM, the Fernandina Beach Police Department responded to a call for service advising that a “young man with a bicycle was lying in the grass, rolling around.” Upon arrival, the officer encountered an adult male sitting in the grass with a bicycle lying next to him. Through conversation, it was discovered that he is the City Manager for the City of Fernandina Beach, Ty Ross.

“The officer evaluated the scene and determined no reportable criminal charges. In keeping with the Fernandina Beach Police Department’s culture of compassion, the officer gave Mr. Ross a ride home.

“I was contacted that night after the incident was resolved. I immediately called the Deputy Chief, who instructed the on-duty supervisor to review the body worn camera footage for compliance with the Fernandina Beach Police Department’s policies and potential criminal charges. Upon review, it was determined our policies were followed and no criminal charges were warranted.

“The Fernandina Beach Police Department is a professional organization driven by core values of partnership, integrity, and respect. We pride ourselves on our reputation for kindness, compassion, and being a helpful part of our community. The officer called to the scene did exactly what I would expect, and exactly what happens on a regular basis for citizens in similar situations.

“I have spoken with the State Attorney’s Office and requested an independent review of this incident.”

Several speakers at the city commission meeting questioned the police department’s actions the night of Ross’ accident, claiming the city manager had been given “special treatment” because of his position with the city.

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Noble Member
2 months ago

In keeping with the Fernandina Beach Police Department’s culture of compassion….”

I’ll remember this next time I stumble out of the Palace Saloon and need a ride home.

These city officials should just stop talking….they just make the problem worse.

Ben Martin
Active Member
Ben Martin(@ben-martin)
2 months ago

You can solve the problem with over drinking by making all cash digital. Purchases can be monitored and access to funds can be denied once a certain level has been attained. The technology is here. Financial surveillance can be a real tool to help us all stay safe. Please turn in your cash and use only digital forms of transaction. Besides cash is ridden with germs. 

Last edited 2 months ago by Ben Martin
Ben Martin
Active Member
Ben Martin(@ben-martin)
2 months ago
Reply to  Ben Martin

The above comment is meant to be sarcastic. Truly, we all need to concern ourselves with how technology can be used to limit all kinds of things to the detriment of our personal freedom. How many people know that all cars manufactured in 2026 must have kill switches?????

Active Member
2 months ago

Actions by the FBPD are not the problem–they appear to have acted properly, as I am sure the review will confirm.
The issue is squarely with Mr. Ross and his apparent lack of candor.

Active Member
2 months ago

I have zero issues with FBPD’s handling of the incident. The concern is the chief hiding his boss’s incident. After all, this was the boss that finally made this guy chief. If the chief ordered officers not to talk about the incident, it’s an ethics issue not a law issue. Does the city not have an anonymous ethics hotline for employees to report ethical misconduct? Hotlines have been around years….And if the rumor mill is true that a lot of officers didn’t support this guy being their chief and that’s why he was acting chief for so long then shame on the city for not listening to these officers and thanks for giving this community a mess.