Larry Scirotto was the first openly gay police chief in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was fired after only six months based on allegations he used an improper minority-first hiring and promotions process.
Bias complaints led to investigations that revealed in a report that Scirotto, who has a mixed-race background, said of a conference room wall displaying the police department’s command staff that it was “too white.” He added that he was “gonna change that.” Scirotto also asked when comparing two candidates for a promotion in the department, “Which one is blacker?”
The report stated a “very divisive atmosphere” in the police department due to the perception that Scirotto used to race and sexual orientation in making promotion decisions. It concluded that while diversity is an important goal, only legally permitted hiring and promotion policies may be used.
Assistant Chief Luis Alvarez is now acting police chief and is the fifth person since 2020 to serve as the department’s head.
Scirotto fired back following his firing, saying that his “too white” comment was taken out of context. He said he was asking how the community would believe the department was diverse when they saw a row of photos showing most white officers.
City Manager Chris Lagerbloom decided to terminate Scirotto and said last week that the former chief did “not quite follow the law” in promoting diversity inside the department.
Scirotto was also accused of being paid for acting as a college basketball referee while he was on the clock for the city. The city council fired the Fort Lauderdale city auditor for investigating the accusation that Scirotto was improperly working a second job while on duty to the town without permission.
Scirotto told local reporters that the minority officers he promoted were all “exceptional” and deserved their promotions. He said they “happened to be minorities” and were not promoted “because” they were minorities.