MOULTON, Ala. - A shocking arrest has left a small town and their fire department reeling. A Moulton firefighter was recently arrested and is facing drug charges connected to a heroin investigation.
We spoke with Moulton's Fire Chief, Patrick Jolly, who describes the situation like a punch in the stomach, because his department is like a family. "We spend time together, our kids see each other," he explained.
So when Chief Jolly got the call from the Moulton Police Chief about Christopher Henley, it was a shock.
"My main focus was to protect the fire department, protect the citizens of this community. We offered full cooperation with the sheriff's department, city police department, and Drug Task Force agents."
The Sheriff's Office says an investigation revealed Henley had purchased heroin from a Shoals area dealer, and was possibly using drugs while fighting fires.
"We put our trust in these individuals to protect the community at a moment's notice. So it's a little disturbing to have the thought 'he might have been under the influence,'" said Chief Jolly.
A local attorney weighed in stating that, "I do know that drugs are a horrible problem, horrible problem in this state, probably the worst problem that we have."
While Paula Bassham isn't connected to the case, she says Henley's arrest would have bothered her if the outcome was any different.
"If it was a problem and nobody did anything to correct it, it will bother me. But obviously somebody did. And I do think overall Moulton is safe, and overall our firefighters are doing what they should do," she explained.
Bassham said that if Henley has a problem there is still hope for him. "People will rally behind him and support him. He is young enough he can overcome this and get back to work, and be the hero that all firefighters are."
Henley was taken into custody when he arrived for his shift on August 8. Authorities say he had arranged for a drug dealer to meet him at the fire station that same day.
Investigators claim they found assorted prescription medication and items used to inject illegal narcotics while searching his vehicle.
Chief Jolly says the entire department is struggling with Henley's arrest. "It's like a family member making a bad decision. We are not going to turn our back on him."
Investigators say Henley admitted to using illegal drugs while on duty.
All fire department employees go through drug screening prior to hiring, and the city also has a substance abuse drug policy that includes random drug tests.