Larry Scirotto, appointed only last August, was fired after an investigation found he had used racial bias in making promotional decisions, report says

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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL- The police chief in Fort Lauderdale, Florida has been fired after it was found he engaged in discriminatory promotion practices, the New York Post reported. At one point, he had remarked while looking at pictures of the agency’s command staff, “That wall is too white.”

 

Larry Scirotto, who only took command of the department last August, was fired by the city manager last Thursday, a press release said.

Scirotto’s termination follows a series of complaints that alleged the now-former chief, 48, made a number of hiring and promotion decisions based on racial bias. Scirotto, a former assistant chief in Pittsburgh, PA., is of mixed race. He is also gay.

As a result of a 12-page investigation into the bias complaints, it was concluded that Scirotto had created a “divisive atmosphere” in the agency and referred to his pointing to a wall of photos of Fort Lauderdale’s command staff and commented, “That wall is too white” and “I’m gonna change that,” CNN reported.

 

In another case, the investigation found Scirotto, when deciding between two black officers for promotion, rhetorically asked, “Which one is blacker?”—which Scirotto denies ever took place.

The report further quoted Scirotto, who led the department for only around six months, as claiming 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 reads.

 

“While the goal to diversify is an important and laudable goal it must be accomplished in a legally permissible manner.”

 

In an interview with CNN, Scirotto claimed he promoted 15 people between August and November, only six of whom were ethnic or gender minorities, and claims the report was “vague on facts.”

In another interview with Fox’s local affiliate 7-News, he continued to defend himself, while insisting that the non-white candidates “deserved to be promoted.”

“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 the outlet.

 

“The promotions that I made are of the minority candidates, were because they were exceptional candidates, and they excelled in every level of the organization,” he reportedly added. “They deserved to be promoted, and by the way, they happened to be minority. It wasn’t because they were minority.”

 

However last Friday, Fort Lauderdale City Manager Chris Lagerbloom disputed Scirotto’s claims, noting the report revealed the diversity promotion(s) were conducted illegally.

“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, 7-News reported.

 

“And in this case, the investigative report indicated we didn’t quite follow the law in how we were working towards those diverse positions.”

 

The firing resulted from two Fort Lauderdale officers, who in October alleged they had been passed over promotions based on race, sexual orientation, and gender, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.

 

In response to those complaints, the city manager halted the promotion process in order to “address concerns surrounding the recent police department promotions.”

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