Ferndale employee arrested for DUI while on the job in city vehicle


FERNDALE - The city's longest-serving employee was arrested last month on suspicion of driving under the influence while on the job and in a city truck, according to court records and Ferndale's spokesman.

Craig A. Bryant, 58, has been on paid leave since his arrest March 21. City officials haven't decided whether he will remain employed, city spokesman Sam Taylor said.

Bryant was out of town and unavailable for comment Friday, April 19. Calls to his home Monday, April 22, and Tuesday, April 23, were not returned. Bellingham attorney Matt Peach, who represents Bryant, had no comment when reached by phone Monday.

Documents filed in Whatcom County District Court show Bryant, Ferndale's building inspector, was contacted by a Whatcom County Sheriff's deputy at 3:13 p.m. March 21 in a city-owned truck outside city limits. He was arrested for DUI, booked into jail and released on $1,000 bail.

The city immediately put Bryant on paid administrative leave, Taylor said. Bryant was put on medical leave April 3. Taylor declined to say why Bryant was eligible for medical leave.

The citation said Bryant had minor injuries and indicated he had been in an accident while driving a city-owned 2004 Ford F-150 truck on Paradise Drive, off Paradise Road about 11/2 miles from the city boundary.

Other details related to the arrest, including Bryant's blood-alcohol level, were unavailable. The deputy's report was not included in the court file. District Court Prosecutor Brandon Waldron said it was his policy not to comment on active cases.

Taylor couldn't say why Bryant would be outside the city during work hours. He only said that generally "his work would keep him within the city limits."

City officials inform the labor union when an employee is put on leave, Taylor said. Steve Thorp, a representative at Teamsters Local 231 in Bellingham, did not return a call seeking comment.

Employees who test positive for alcohol while on the job can be fired, according to the city personnel policies. Employees also may be required to accept treatment for alcohol or drug abuse and can be fired if they refuse, the policies say.

"Our understanding is that it was a DUI related to alcohol consumption," based on a conversation with law enforcement, Taylor said.

Bryant's next court appearance is scheduled for May 21. A jury trial is tentatively scheduled for June 4.

Bryant has worked for Ferndale for 23 years, starting on Nov. 3, 1989. He has no record of discipline as a city employee, Taylor said.

Reach Ralph Schwartz at 360-715-2289 or ralph.schwartz@bellinghamherald.com. Read his politics blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/politics or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldpolitics.

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