Lawrence Police Dispatcher Allegedly Hung Up on Spanish-Speaking Callers

More than half of Lawrence residents speak Spanish.

Lawrence, Massachusetts

Photo by Kyle Clauss

A Lawrence Police dispatcher has been placed on leave after a routine audit revealed she was allegedly hanging up on callers who spoke Spanish.

Fox 25 obtained several 911 recordings provided by Chief James Fitzpatrick, who declined to name the employee, but added that she has a history of similar violations. Though Fitzpatrick said he is inclined to fire the dispatcher, he has been in contact with the police union.

Besides the obvious reasons why hanging up on a 911 call is a terrible decision, it is especially problematic in Lawrence, where 67 percent of adults and 82 percent of children ages 5-17 speak Spanish at home, according to Census data. Fitzpatrick said translators are available if a dispatcher does not speak Spanish and receives a call from someone who does.

“It was a matter of them not handling calls correctly, they’re not getting provided with public safety services,” Fitzpatrick told Fox 25. “We want to make sure everybody is confident that when they call the Lawrence Police Department they’re going to get the services that they need.”