Andrea Blanco, Daily Mail, March 6, 2022
A Florida police chief accused of refusing to hire white people and giving promotions based on a minority-first approach was fired after just six months on the job following an investigation into several discrimination complaints.
Former Fort Lauderdale police chief Larry Scirotto, 48, was fired on Thursday after an inquiry found that he allegedly once said a conference room wall of photos was ‘too white’ and added, ‘I’m gonna change that.’
Scirotto, a former assistant chief in Pittsburgh, was the first openly gay chief hired in Fort Lauderdale and also is from a mixed-race background.
An investigation into the bias complaints concluded that Scirotto was unfairly focused on minority candidates for jobs and noted that he once asked ‘which one is blacker?’ when considering a promotion.
He is also accused of working as a high school basketball referee while being on the clock as chief.
‘The Chief was paid by the City for these unauthorized schedule adjustments, totaling an estimated 55.50 hours,’ a memo by a since-fired city auditor read.
The complaints centered on allegations that Scirotto made hiring and promotion decisions with an improper minority-first approach.
At one time, when considering a promotion, the investigation found that Scirotto said ‘which one is blacker?’ The report quoted Scirotto as saying he intended to ‘consider diversity at every opportunity.’
Scirotto has vehemently denied ever saying that, and has insisted he gave promotions to those who ‘deserved them.’
From August to November, Scirotto promoted 15 people, six of whom were minorities, he told CNN.
In Fort Lauderdale, African Americans make up 31percent of the population, but 2020 reports showed the police force was only 15percent black.
‘Those minority groups are now being treated as if they were less than deserving, and that’s not the case, and it never was,’ he told 7News Miami.
‘The promotions that I made…were because they were exceptional candidates, and they excelled in every level of the organization,’ he added.
‘They deserved to be promoted, and by the way, they happened to be minority. It wasn’t because they were minority.’
Meanwhile, City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said Scirotto’s approach ‘didn’t quite follow the law.’
‘We strive to be diverse in our organization. We strive to represent the community that we serve. There’s just certain lawful ways to allow that diversity to happen,’ he said in a press conference.
‘…In this case, the investigative report indicated we didn’t quite follow the law in how we were working towards those diverse positions.’
Scirotto’s firing comes months after two police officers in the department claimed they had been passed over for promotions based on race, sexual orientation and gender.
‘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 investigative report concluded.
‘While the goal to diversify is an important and laudable goal it must be accomplished in a legally permissible manner.’
The acting police chief will be Luis Alvarez, who is currently an assistant chief. The department has about 530 officers and 179 civilian employees.