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Arrest made amid debate on testing

A Newton firefighter was arrested by Boston police yesterday after detectives allegedly saw him buy heroin from a known drug dealer.

Keith Eppich, a 30-year-old from Norwood, was charged with possession of heroin. He is expected to be arraigned today in Dorchester District Court.
Eppich, who was with another man, was driving his car in Dorchester when police allegedly saw him exchange an item with a man they said is a known drug dealer. The officers were conducting surveillance in the area of Whitfield and Park streets and allegedly saw Lawrence Bacon, 54, approach Eppich's car on a bicycle.
Officers stopped Eppich's car soon after and allegedly found heroin inside. He, and the occupant, Corey Kelter, 30, of Norwood, were arrested.
Bacon was charged with distributing heroin and distributing within a school zone.
Eppich, who could not be reached for comment, identified himself on a booking slip as a Newton firefighter. The name matches a Keith Eppich on a Newton salary list.
Tom Lopez, a spokesman for the firefighters' union, was not available for comment.
Newton has debated whether to require firefighters to undergo random drug testing, similar to proposals to require firefighters in Boston to submit to testing.
The city had tucked the request into proposals made before an arbitration panel. The Joint-Labor Management Committee did not decide on the proposal in a recent ruling, however, saying that it was not part of the original contract negotiations.
Lisle Baker, president of the Newton Board of Aldermen, said last night that the allegations, if true, show the necessity for random testing, not only for individual firefighters' safety, but also for the safety of the people with whom they work.
"If you have no problems, there should be no reason not to test," he said.
"It's for firefighters' safety."
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