Police Chief Fired for Giving Promotions Based on Race, Gender: Report

A Florida police chief was fired after allegedly giving promotions based on race and gender after serving on the force for only six months.

Police Chief Larry Scirotto, who formerly served as an assistant police chief in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, became Fort Lauderdale's first openly gay chief when the department hired him, according to local television news station WTVJ-TV.

However, he faced criticism after several police officers filed complaints alleging that he unfairly offered promotions based on race, gender and sexual orientation, according a copy of an investigation report sent to Newsweek from the Fort Lauderdale's city manager's office.

The investigation, which began in November, found that he once said a wall of photographs in a conference room was "too white" while pledging to "change that." He also allegedly said he wanted to "consider diversity at every opportunity," according to the report.

When considering one promotion, Scirotto allegedly asked "which one is blacker?"

"One witness reportedly said, 'minority status is not related to the darkness of the pigment of their skin' and 'you can't choose someone based on their skin color.' The chief replied, 'which one will be more acceptable to the community' or 'is this an accurate reflection of the community?'" the report continued.

City manager Chris Lagerbloom said that while the city supports "a very diverse organization, we have to do everything the proper way," according to WTVJ. "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."

Scirotto defended himself in a conversation with WFOR-TV, slamming the report as being "built on hearsay" while offering no testimony, transcript or audio, and said the conversations featured in the report were out of context.

"The bottom row had several white males and one white female. 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?" Scirotto told the news station.

Assistant Chief Luis Alvarez will serve as the acting police chief, according to WTVJ.

His firing comes as police departments continue to contend with diversity. Protests in 2020 drew national attention to issues of race in policing, with many advocates calling for increased diversity in police forces. Since those protests, police departments across the U.S. have continued reckoning with race.

A Louisville police major filed a lawsuit after he was demoted from major to lieutenant for using a racial slur in a training program. He claimed racial discrimination, but a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in January.

In November, a Colorado police union boss was suspended after he accused police reforms of being "racist and sexist" and seeking to "replace" white men. It came after the state's Attorney General Phil Weiser and the Aurora Police Department agreed to commit reforms following an investigation uncovering issues of racially discriminatory policing.

Newsweek reached out to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department for comment Sunday morning. This story will be updated with any response.

Police chief fired for promotions
A Florida police chief was fired after allegedly giving promotions based on race and gender after serving on the force for only six months. Above, a police cruiser is seen in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in August 2019. Robert Alexander/Getty Images