Who is Larry Scirotto? FL chief fired for anti-white bias and 'divisive atmosphere'
A complaint says Fort Lauderdale police chief engaged in discriminatory hiring policies, said 'the wall is too white' about command staff
Larry Scirotto's tenure as the chief of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department (FLPD) has come to an abrupt end just months after it began. On March 6, 2022, the city confirmed Scirotto had been fired from his role for allegedly racist hiring and promotional practices. Amongst his many complaints, it is reported that Scirotto said "that wall is too white" about the FLPD's command staff.
Scirotto's firing is just the latest in a growing line of police chiefs who have found themselves embroiled in racism controveries. In July 2021, Anthony Campo in Ohio was booted after he was caught placing a KKK sign on the desk of a Black officer. Then in August, Melissa McFadden was sued by officers in the Columbus PD for allegedly grooming Black cops against White ones. Back in January 2020, Johnny O'Mara of Glenpool, Oklahoma found himself in a racism controversy, after even his own daughter called him out.
Scirotto has hit back at the claims, saying, "If promoting diversity is the hill I'm going to die on, I will sleep well tonight." However, it appears there's little he can do though since the city has already confirmed its decision to remove him.
Who is Larry Scirotto?
The 24-year veteran was hired as the Police Chief in Fort Lauderdale in August 2021, becoming the city's first openly-gay police chief. Prior to that, he became the youngest assistant chief at the Pittsburgh Police Department. Of mixed-race, Scirotto was famously raised in public housing as a child, which has been the key to many of his policies. While he was Commander of Major Crime, Scirotto reportedly tapped social services and community partners to drive down crime rates.
Before he became a decorated police officer though, Scirotto gained a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Ashworth University and also graduated from Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. Alongside his $200,000-a-year job as police chief, Scirotto also served as a college basketball referee, a side gig that led to widespread criticism against him. However, Fort Lauderdale's City Manager Chris Lagerbloom denied that gig had anything to do with his booting.
He was hired after an "extensive search" by the city, which hoped that he would be able to drastically reform policing. However, it appears that the 48-year-old failed to live up to those expectations, and now departs under a cloud of controversy.
Why was Scirotto fired?
The city confirmed his contract was terminated after an investigation arising from numerous discrimination complaints by employees of the FLPD. In November, the city hired a law firm to investigate those complaints, which alleged he was focused only on minority candidates. Allgedly, he remarked "that wall is too white. I'm gonna change that," about the department's command staff photos.
Another example says Scirotto refused to consider a 20-year veteran of the department because he was White, and instead narrowed down his choices to two Black officers and asked "which one is blacker?" Reportedly around 21 witnesses, including Scirotto testified in the investigation, which indicated he indeed preferred minority candidates. "Almost every witness was dissatisfied... most believed that Chief Scirotto made clear his intention to promote based on race, gender or sexual orientation," the report said.
Between August and November 2021, Scirotto promoted 15 people, of which six happened to be from ethnic or gender minorities, but he defended his moves saying "they were promoted because they were the best candidates" and that "none of them were promoted because they were in a protected class." The firing means Scirotto won't receive a severance package, but it appears he's not too bothered by that.
"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," he said. He added that the investigation was "built on hearsay", but did not say if he was going to sue the city for wrongful termination.