Lawrence, Mass. Firefighter, Dispatcher Suspended in Probe of Alleged On-Duty Drug Use

LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) -- Surveillance camera footage appears to show a city firefighter and a dispatcher snorting cocaine and drinking beer while on duty at the fire department's communications center, city officials said.

The male firefighter and female dispatcher have been placed on paid administrative leave until the Fire Department completes an internal investigation. Authorities did not release the employees' names.

Mayor Michael J. Sullivan said city officials would await the outcome of the Fire Department's probe before determining whether a police investigation is needed.

Fire Chief Joseph L. Marquis declined to discuss the contents of the film shot Wednesday night and early Thursday inside his department's communications center, The Eagle-Tribune of North Andover reported Saturday. But Marquis said the film was key evidence in a department investigation he ordered after receiving an anonymous tip that employees were indulging in drugs, booze and sex while on duty directing fire trucks and ambulances to emergency calls.

The surveillance camera set up by the Lawrence Police Department did not film any sexual activity, officials said.

``If these allegations are true, it endangers the public and firefighters,'' Marquis said. ``But I want to confirm everything and be very thorough in our investigation before commenting on it.''

Lawrence Police Chief John J. Romero said he was unaware of the allegations until approached by Marquis several weeks ago. The fire chief requested use of a police surveillance camera to help their investigation.