Florida Police Chief Fired over Discrimination Issues

Associated Press

Saturday March 5, 2022
Originally published on March 5, 2022

Larry Scirotto is sworn in as the new chief of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department by Chief Judge Jack Tuter at First Baptist Fort Lauderdale.
Larry Scirotto is sworn in as the new chief of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department by Chief Judge Jack Tuter at First Baptist Fort Lauderdale.  (Source:Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)

A Florida police chief has been fired after only about six months on the job following an investigation into several discrimination complaints.

A city of Fort Lauderdale news release said the chief, Larry Scirotto, 48, was fired by City Manager Chris Lagerbloom on Thursday. The complaints centered on allegations that Scirotto made hiring and promotion decisions with an improper minority-first approach.

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 said a conference room wall of photos was "too white" and said, "I'm gonna change that."

Another 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."

"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.

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