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A 911 Dispatcher Hung Up On Callers Who Couldn't Speak English

The dispatcher in Lawrence, Massachusetts, is now under investigation.

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A 911 dispatcher in Lawrence, Massachusetts, is being investigated for hanging up on Spanish-speaking callers unable to communicate in English.

"Someone speak Spanish?" a male caller can be heard asking in one of the recordings released by police to the media. "No. Just English," the dispatcher can be heard saying before the call is disconnected. The caller never phoned back, authorities said.

Police Chief James Fitzpatrick told Fox25 the calls came to light during a routine internal audit.

"We came across these particular calls showing that this person was ineffective at their job, so we took it upon further investigation, [and decided to] look into it as a personnel matter," Fitzpatrick said.

The police chief said the 911 dispatcher should have followed protocol by requesting an interpreter.

"You'd bring an interpreter online ... through the 911 system and they'd help you walk through the call and what the issue was," he said.

It's not the first time the 911 dispatcher, whom police have declined to name, has mishandled emergency calls, Fitzpatrick told CBS Boston.

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera told the Lowell Sun that the dispatcher's actions may have endangered the lives of the city's residents.

According to recent census records, almost 74% of the city's population has a Latino background.

Lawrence told Fox25 he is seeking to fire the employee, but is negotiating with the local union.

In June, a 911 dispatcher in New Mexico hung up on a panicked woman who swore during a call as her teen friend lay dying from a gunshot wound. The teen later died in the hospital from his injuries.

BuzzFeed News is awaiting further comment from the Lawrence police department and the city's mayor.

David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.

Contact David Mack at david.mack@buzzfeed.com.

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