After just six months on the job, Larry Scirotto — the first openly gay police chief in Fort Lauderdale, Florida — was fired over allegations he hired and promoted based on an improper minority-first philosophy, the Associated Press reported.
What are the details?
An investigation into bias complaints found that the 48-year-old Scirotto — who's from a mixed-race background — once said a conference room wall of photos was “too white” and said, “I’m gonna change that,” the AP noted. The photos depicted the department’s command staff, WSVN-TV reported.
The investigation also found Scirotto — a former assistant chief in Pittsburgh — asked “which one is blacker?” when considering two candidates for a promotion, the outlet said. Scirotto denied asking that question, the station noted.
The AP added that the investigation quoted Scirotto as saying he intended to “consider diversity at every opportunity.”
“Overall, there is a very divisive atmosphere within the department based on the perception the chief is intentionally using race, gender, and sexual orientation as attributes necessary for promotions,” the report concluded, according to the AP. “While the goal to diversify is an important and laudable goal it must be accomplished in a legally permissible manner.”
Assistant Chief Luis Alvarez will be acting police chief, the outlet added. WSVN said Alvarez is the fifth person to hold the position since 2020.
What did the fired police chief have to say?
Scirotto said his firing was unfair and challenged specific allegations.
In regard to his "too white" comment, he told WSVN that it was taken out of context, and that "the bottom row [of photos] ... was consisting of a majority of white men and a white woman, and the statement was, ‘How do I convince our community that we are a diverse community when this is what they will see, and we speak about diversity and inclusion?'”
What did the city manager have to say?
City Manager Chris Lagerbloom on Friday told the station there are "certain lawful ways to allow ... diversity to happen, and in this case, the investigative report indicated we didn’t quite follow the law in how we were working toward those diverse positions.”
Former Police Chief Larry Scirotto Speaks Out youtu.be
Scirotto also was accused of working as a college basketball referee while on the clock — and getting paid — as police chief, WSVN said.
An interesting twist is that the city auditor was fired for investigating the referee accusation without the city’s permission, the station said, adding that the city auditor said in a memo that the Scirotto "was paid by the City for these unauthorized schedule adjustments, totaling an estimated 55.50 hours.”
Scirotto also told WSVN the minority candidates he promoted were all deserving and "exceptional," noting they "excelled in every level of the organization. They deserved to be promoted, and by the way, they happened to be minority. It wasn’t because they were minority.”
Fired Fort Lauderdale auditor releases memo about ex-police chief youtu.be