A firefighter’s wife initially discovered the device, which has the appearance and functionality of a phone charger. She discovered it on Thanksgiving Day last year and had removed it from the bathroom downstairs at DFR Station 11 so she could take it upstairs and charge her phone. Reportedly her husband was who first noticed the charger also had the functions of a camera. The husband did not come forward at that time since he was new to the job, and did not want to draw any attention to himself. This is according to an arrest affidavit which was obtained by the CBS affiliate WFAA.
A couple months went by, and Captain Daniel Puente found the camera and began questioning firefighters to find out who owned the device. This is when the firefighter accused of the misconduct, Craig Lawrence, allegedly “exhibited nervous behavior” and ultimately confessed on January 21 that the camera device belonged to him. However, he made claims of not knowing it also functioned as a camera.
Lawrence started to have a break down later in the day, and told Puente, “I’m about to lose everything. I’m going to jail. I’m going to lose my job and my kids, [my wife] is going to divorce me,” the affidavit reveals.
Jason Evans, DFR spokesperson, said in a statement that Lawrence had been placed on administrative leave while police investigate the matter. However, Lawrence resigned from the DFR on January 24. He had worked there for five years, and started as a full-time firefighter for the city of Wilmer, Texas.
According to WFAA, Lawrence has a history of “sexual explicit behavior” at work, which include showing off sex toys, telling sexually graphic stories, and spending an excessive amount of time using his laptop with the screen hidden.
Investigators searched Lawrence’s home and reportedly discovered “sexual-related props” along with a “hand-drawn caricature of a Dallas firefighter sitting on the toilet with his pants down.” The affidavit revealed the firefighter’s web browser history being searched, showing visits to “voyeur” porn sites, some that had “what appeared to be footage from hidden cameras in bathrooms of women using the restroom.”
Lawrence changed his story last Friday when authorities questioned him. According to the affidavit, he claimed he purchased the camera to try and “determine who had been rummaging through his duffel bag at work,” and that it made its way into the bathroom by accident. Lawrence denies he planted the device himself. Initially he also stated to police that he did not own a laptop, then later saying he had broken his laptop and that he threw it away. The memory card was damaged, so authorities were not able to recover any camera footage.
Lawrence was booked into the Dallas County Jail on Wednesday. He is charged with invasive visual recording, which is a class A misdemeanor. His new Wilmer employers placed Lawrence on administrative leave until there is further notice.
President of the Dallas Firefighters Association, Jim McDade, has condemned Lawrence’s alleged behavior. “It’s absolutely inexcusable, and not forgivable at all,” he said in a statement to WFAA. “A station is where firefighters spend a third of their lives. It’s our home away from home, and we expect it to be able to be safe so we can bring our families here. This is not representative of who firefighters are and what we stand for.”
However, McDade gave praise to the firefighters who reported the misconduct. “They did exactly what they were supposed to do,” said McDade. “They recognized it as a direct threat to their families and all of our employees.”
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.