By John Friend
A recently hired police chief in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. was fired last week following an investigation finding that he used a “minority-first” hiring and promotional approach, discriminating against white officers and candidates.
Former Fort Lauderdale police chief Larry Scirotto, 48, was terminated on March 3, according to local reports. Scirotto, the first openly gay police chief who came from a mixed racial background, was hired in August 2021 following a long career working for the Pittsburgh police department, including a stint as assistant chief of police.
In November of last year, following complaints from officers of discrimination, the City of Fort Lauderdale hired an outside, independent investigator to examine “allegations of racial, gender and sexual-orientation discrimination in its police department,” NBC6 South Florida reported.
Following the investigation, Fort Lauderdale City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said it’s “in the city’s best interest to separate employment with” Scirotto when announcing his termination.
According to reports, Scirotto openly proclaimed his favor of hiring minority candidates and used inappropriate and discriminatory language towards White officers. The inquiry found that in one alleged incident, Scirotto described a wall of photos in a conference room as “too White” before adding that he was “gonna change that.”
He also reportedly indicated that he wanted to “consider diversity at every opportunity” in the hiring and promotional process, and when considering one promotion while he was police chief, he asked of the candidates in consideration “which one is blacker?” demonstrating his bias.
City Manager Lagerbloom said that while the city supports “a very diverse organization, we have to do everything the proper way,” according to Newsweek. “We serve a very diverse community and that’s important. There are just certain ways that you can do that and do it legally, and other ways that meet that muster.”
Commenting on the inquiry, Lagerbloom added: “In this case, the investigative report indicated we didn’t quite follow the law in how we were working towards those diverse positions.”
The Daily Mail noted that the inquiry stated that “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.”
Luis Alvarez, the current assistant chief, will serve as acting police chief while the city searches for a replacement.