Police force's first gay police chief fired over 'minority-first' hiring approach

8 March 2022, 07:55

Larry Scirotto was the first openly gay chief hired in Fort Lauderdale
Larry Scirotto was the first openly gay chief hired in Fort Lauderdale. Picture: Handout

By Daisy Stephens

A gay police officer has been sacked after an investigation into complaints he hired and promoted individuals based on their characteristics.

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Larry Scirotto, 48, worked for Fort Lauderdale police department in Florida.

He was fired last Thursday after an investigation into complaints he unfairly employed and promoted people using what local TV station WTVJ called an "improper minority-first approach".

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The station reported that four police officers - three of whom were white and one of whom was Hispanic - filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accusing him of awarding promotions based on race, gender or sexual orientation.

Most of the 21 witnesses interviewed in the subsequent investigation were found to be "dissatisfied" with his approach to promotions, CNN reports.

City Manager Chris Lagerbloom sacked him as a result, according to WTVJ.

Mr Lagerbloom told the station: "Many people believed that Chief Scirotto made clear his intention to promote, based on race, gender, or sexual orientation."

He said everything had to be done "in the proper way".

"We support a very diverse organisation," said Mr Lagerbloom.

"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."

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However Mr Scirotto said the complaint filed against him was "vague" and said the 15 people he had promoted between August and November - six of whom were ethnic or gender minorities - were promoted purely on merit.

"None of them were promoted because they were in a protected class," he told CNN.

"They were promoted because they were the best candidates."

He also vowed to file a wrongful termination suit and had already hired legal counsel.

"If promoting diversity is the hill I'm going to die on, I will sleep well tonight," he 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."

Head of the Fort Lauderdale Black Police Association Cecil Stone said: "The tactics used by a few officers to discredit the promotions of Black and minority officers with masters degrees, stellar reputations, and exemplary work history, are nothing short of appalling."

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