FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The now former Fort Lauderdale Police chief is giving his side of the story after he was accused of promoting officers based on their race and fired after just six months on the job.

Larry Scirotto on Friday spoke with 7News on the phone about the circumstances behind his termination.

“Those minority groups are now being treated as if they were less than deserving, and that’s not the case, and it never was,” he said.

Scirotto indicated the candidates he chose to promote were all deserving.

“The promotions that I made are of the minority candidates, were because they were exceptional candicates, and they excelled in every level of the organization,” he said. “They deserved to be promoted, and by the way, they happened to be minority. It wasn’t because they were minority.”

The controversy sparked after several complaints from within the department led to an outside investigation.

The probe found that Scirotto pointed to a wall of pictures that show the department’s command staff and said, ‘That wall is too white,” and, “I’m gonna change that.”

But Scirotto said those statements were taken out of context.

“The bottom row [of pictures], it was consisting of a majority of white men and a white woman, and the statement was, ‘How do I convince our community that we are a diverse community when this is what they will see, and we speak about diversity and inclusion?'” he said.

The investigation also found that when it came to selecting a captain, Scirotto allegedly said, “This is between Cecil and Eddie … Which one is blacker?”

Scirotto countered that he never said that.

Friday afternoon, Fort Lauderdale City Manager Chris Lagerbloom weighed in on the 12-page report.

“We strive to be diverse in our organization. We strive to represent the community that we serve. There’s just certain lawful ways to allow that diversity to happen,” he said, “and in this case, the investigative report indicated we didn’t quite follow the law in how we were working towards those diverse positions.”

The former chief was also accused of working as a college basketball referee while being on the clock as chief and getting paid for it.

The now fired city auditor, who was let go for investigating this without the city’s permission, said in a memo, “The Chief was paid by the City for these unauthorized schedule adjustments, totaling an estimated 55.50 hours.”

The department has appointed an interim police chief, making this the fifth person to hold the position since 2020.

An attorney representing several Fort Lauderdale Police officers said they’re pleased that the city took the allegations of discriminatory practices in the department seriously.

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