Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Larry Scirotto was fired on March 3 for hiring too many people of color.
Fort Lauderdale City Manager Chris Lagerbloom fired Scirotto six months after being accused of hiring officers based on race.
Scirotto, who appears white but has a Black father and white mother and is openly gay
, said he was attempting to diversify the police department. Despite the majority of the officers who Scirotto promoted being white males, the chief was fired for hiring based on race.
Nine of the 15 people promoted between August and November were white males. Only six were minorities due to gender or race and were selected based on their qualifications.
The former police chief admitted
to looking at a wall of officers’ photographs and saying, “that wall is too white… I’m gonna change that.”
“The bottom row had several white males and one white female,” he said. “And we’re talking in conversation as it relates to our community and the expectation of a diverse and inclusive organization. And how do I purport we have that when the entire bottom row are white men?”
However, he denied making remarks that he was looking to choose “the blacker” candidate” when deciding between two officers to receive tenure.
More than 30 percent of the residents in Fort Lauderdale are
Black. However, the Fort Lauderdale police force is
only 15 percent, Black. Scirotto said he wanted to make the department more reflective of the community it serves, which he was hired to do. He also told investigators that he considered diversity at every opportunity and needed to be intentional with diversifying the police force.
“None of them were promoted because they were in a protected class,” said Scirotto. “They were promoted because they were the best candidates.”
Firing the first openly gay and Black police chief for diversifying the police force may not be the smartest move for the city. Scirotto has obtained legal counsel and is considering his options. He also has
the support of the NAACP.
Lagerbloom’s office released a statement on March 3 regarding the investigation
and dismissal. The city also claimed that a white officer was denied tenure.
“Following a thorough and extensive investigation of employee complaints at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, City Manager Chris Lagerbloom, has determined that it is in the City’s best interest to separate employment with Larry Scirotto.”
Whatever happens, Scirotto said he would “sleep well” knowing he was promoting
diversity within the Fort Lauderdale police department.
“If promoting diversity is the hill I’m going to die on, I will sleep well tonight,” said Scirotto. “I won’t allow them to tarnish my reputation. I won’t allow them to tarnish the work that I’ve done in the 24 years I’ve been in this profession….I love this city, I love this police department. There is nothing more I would rather do than be the chief tomorrow.”