Fort Lauderdale, Fla.’s first gay police chief has been fired after six months on the job.
Larry Scirotto, 48, was sacked by City Manager Chris Lagerbloom last Thursday, according to Florida TV station WTVJ. He had been under investigation following complaints that he hired and promoted individuals by what the station called an “improper minority-first approach.”
Scirotto formerly served as the assistant chief in Pittsburgh. He joined the Fort Lauderdale police department following nationwide protests against police injustice after George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis.
WTVJ reports that three white police officers and one Hispanic police officer filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that accused the chief of promoting unfairly after he promoted a group of minority employees.
The investigation into Scirotto’s hiring practices included speaking with 21 witnesses. The report found that most were “dissatisfied” with his approach to promotions, according to CNN.
“Many believed that Chief Scirotto made clear his intention to promote based on race, gender, or sexual orientation," Lagerbloom told WTVJ.
“There’s everything we have to do in the proper way. Again, I go back to the fact that we support a very diverse organization," Lagerbloom said. "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.”
The former police chief told CNN that the complaint filed against him was “vague on the facts.” He said that he had promoted 15 people from August to November. Six of them were ethnic or gender minorities.
"None of them were promoted because they were in a protected class," Scirotto said. "They were promoted because they were the best candidates."
He told the outlet that he has hired legal counsel and plans to file a wrongful termination suit.
"If promoting diversity is the hill I'm going to die on, I will sleep well tonight," Scirotto said. "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."
Scirotto’s supporters say they are disappointed in his firing.
Attorney Christina Currie, who previously led the Fort Lauderdale Citizens Investigative Panel that looked into complaints against officers, told WTVJ, “I was really looking forward to the leadership that Chief Scirotto was going to bring.”
She added, "I think our community was really excited changing the culture of what we had experienced here in our police department.”
“The new chief came to town. He started making positive changes that would impact the whole community in a more positive direction than we had been in," community activist Jackie Scott said.
Cecil Stone, the head of the Fort Lauderdale Black Police Association, said, “The tactics used by a few officers to discredit the promotions of Black and minority officers with master's degrees, stellar reputations, and exemplary work history, are nothing short of appalling.”