By Susannah Bryan
South Florida Solar-Sentinel
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Larry Scirotto, a retired assistant chief from Pittsburgh tapped in August to take over the reins of the Fort Lauderdale’s Police Division, was fired Thursday afternoon.
Metropolis Supervisor Chris Lagerbloom, who employed Scirotto after an intensive nationwide search, mentioned he terminated Scirotto primarily based on an investigation opened after a number of workers filed discrimination complaints.
The investigation, carried out by exterior legal professional Gregg Rossman, supported the allegations that Scirotto made promotions primarily based on race, gender and sexual orientation, with a minority-first agenda.
Fort Lauderdale leaders had nice expectations for Scirotto, the son of a white mom and Black father and the division’s first overtly homosexual chief.
Quickly after Scirotto was employed for the $200,000-a-year job, Mayor Dean Trantalis mentioned the town was relying on him to deliver systemic change to a division with 530 officers and 179 civilians.
Trantalis, beforehand a staunch defender of the chief, couldn’t be reached for remark Thursday evening.
Scirotto, 48, couldn’t be reached for remark.
He won’t be strolling away with severance pay.
“Division heads in Fort Lauderdale don’t have contracts and there’s no severance provision,” Lagerbloom mentioned. “We separated this afternoon.”
Rossman’s report, launched to the Solar Sentinel Thursday afternoon, says he interviewed 21 folks within the division, together with the chief. These interviews revealed a constant narrative revolving across the chief’s vocalization of his outright “intention to advertise variety,” Rossman wrote.
Based on the report, “The Chief on multiple event, to completely different teams of individuals, pointed to the wall within the Chief’s convention room and acknowledged, ‘That wall is just too white’ and ‘I’m gonna change that.’ The wall shows photos of FLPD [Fort Lauderdale Police Department] Command Employees. These statements have been made in conferences involving Basic Employees on not less than one event, Union members on one event and when contemplating promotions for Captain.”
Rossman additionally wrote that the chief himself admitted to creating a number of statements about “The wall being too white” and never reflecting the group.
“He mentioned the context of the remark is constructed round ‘How do I persuade the group that we’re an inclusive and various group if this wall is so white?’” Rossman wrote. “He additionally acknowledged that Scirotto requested ‘Will we not have any certified minority candidates?” Requested if there have been ‘Hispanic faces’ or ‘LGBTQ’ faces on the ‘white wall,’ the Chief mentioned ‘he didn’t see variety on the wall.’”
After a sequence of conferences with senior workers, the chief mentioned doable promotions and requested for options on who must be promoted, Rossman wrote in his report.
“When discussing the open Captain’s place, there was unanimity that the particular person with the second highest rating from the testing course of (Lt. Charlie Studders) was ‘very simply’ the best choice primarily based on his physique of labor inside the Division. He’s a white male with twenty years tenure.”
The Chief’s response was reported to be:
“it’s between these two” (pointing to the names of … two males of shade)
“that is between Cecil [Stone] and Eddie [Cruz]”
“which one is blacker”
“this wall is just too white”
One senior workers member advised the chief: “You may’t select somebody primarily based on their pores and skin shade,” Rossman wrote.
Based on Rossman’s report, the Chief replied, “Which one will probably be extra acceptable to the group?”
The report continues, “It’s unclear if the Chief made the next statements on this identical assembly or simply after, nevertheless it was mentioned in relation to the Captain’s promotion: ‘Cecil clearly appears to be like extra black than Eddie.’
‘Cecil is blacker than Eddie,’” Rossman wrote. “Cecil Stone was promoted to fill the open Captain’s place at the moment.”
All employees are shielded from completely different therapy on the premise of race, whether or not white, Black, Asian or every other group.
Scirotto additionally got here beneath hearth from the rank and file for working a aspect gig as a university basketball referee. However Lagerbloom mentioned the aspect job had nothing to do along with his choice to terminate the chief.
Lagerbloom advised the South Florida Solar Sentinel he has requested Luis Alvarez to take over because the division’s appearing police chief.
Lagerbloom says he plans to start out looking for a brand new chief quickly.
“I’ve some concepts however am not ready to speak about that but,” he mentioned.
©2022 South Florida Solar-Sentinel.