Omaha Public Radio News
Mon September 12, 2011
Allegations surface of drinking, sexual activity within an Omaha fire station
By Katie Schubert
Omaha, NE – A UNO professor emeritus of criminal justice says the state should investigate allegations of drinking, gambling, and sexual activity within an Omaha fire house.
Sam Walker is among a group of community activists, including former Omaha Public Safety Auditor Tristan Bonn, calling on the city to once again bring on an auditor. A report released Monday alleges some firefighters in west Omaha's Station 56 drank on the job and engaged in sexual activity in 2003 while on duty. The report is based on a transcript of interviews with firefighters that became part of an internal investigation.
Walker says the file includes specific incidents of firefighters being unable to do their jobs. "On at least three occasions, in these internal affairs reports, firefighters went to emergency calls too drunk to perform. Now that's a threat to the safety of the people of Omaha. They were not in uniform, they stumbled around to get dressed, and when they showed up they were unable to perform."
Walker believes efforts were made to cover up the incidents. But Paul Landow, who in 2003 was chief of staff to former Mayor Mike Fahey, disputes that. And he questions the timing of the release. "To dredge these charges up after eight years is absurd, and that's putting it charitably. There's no good that can come out of these allegations eight years later. When the violations occurred, they were investigated, they were dealt with."
Landow says the firefighters involved were disciplined based on facts, not on what he calls allegations. He believes the release of the transcript excerpts is an effort to discredit the fire union and public officials.
Walker wants State Auditor Mike Foley to investigate the incidents.