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Fort Lauderdale Swears In New Police Chief Larry Scirotto

New Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Larry Scirotto, center with purple tie, poses with Fort Lauderdale police officers during his swearing-in ceremony at First Baptist Fort Lauderdale.
Caitie Switalski Munoz
New Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Larry Scirotto, center with purple tie, poses with Fort Lauderdale police officers during his swearing-in ceremony at First Baptist Fort Lauderdale.

Chief Larry Scirotto was chosen to head the more than 700-member department after a nationwide search. His hire marks a new start for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department after controversy and recent leadership changes.

Fort Lauderdale's police department officially has a new, permanent police chief. Larry Scirotto was sworn in Tuesday during a formal ceremony held at First Baptist Fort Lauderdale.

Faith leaders said prayers said for the safety of the city. In the background, there was pomp and circumstance from the rear pews of the church — as honor guard officers performed the presentation of colors.

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Many of the speeches given by local leaders during the ceremony alluded to the need for 21st-century policing and building community trust but didn't necessarily address specifics.

"Chief Scirotto has a large job ahead of him, no doubt," Mayor Dean Trantalis said.

City Manager Chris Lagerbloom — who hired the chief — gave him some advice from his own days policing.

"In 2021 when we talk about professional policing we absolutely know what's the right thing to do, we also know when we might need to, as leaders, step in," he said. "And chief I would challenge as you take over the helm of the department, that you encourage those to support what's right and also encourage stepping in if stepping in needs to happen."

Scirotto, who comes to Fort Lauderdale after a 23-year policing career in Pittsburgh, takes over the department after more than a year of leadership shakeups.

The department faced widespread criticism and scrutiny over use of force after an officer shot peaceful protester LaToya Ratlieff in the head with a rubber bullet at the end of May 2020 — while people were in the streets protesting police brutality following the murder of George Floyd.

An internal investigation earlier this year exonerated the officer.

Shortly after the shooting took place, the chief at the time, Rick Maglione, was removed from the position. Since then, there have been two interim chiefs.

Scirotto told WLRN that instead of a culture change — he sees his tenure leading the department as more of a philosophy change.

"I don't have much information on the May 31 incident, other than I know it did not accurately represent the Fort Lauderdale Police Department or the Fort Lauderdale community. And that no one — no one — would say they agree to an outcome like that," said Scirotto. "Our first charge when you talk about what would we change culturally, out first charge would is to do no harm."

"Those communities that feel that they weren't welcome or didn't have a seat at the table in prior police leadership or police administrations, you are welcome in mine," he said.  

During Tuesday's ceremony, Scirotto's nephew held the Bible while Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Jack Tuter read the oath of office.

Then Scirotto had a chance to publicly address the community to lay out his vision for the department:

"In many people's views this is the most turbulent time in our profession's history. And I wouldn't disagree," he said. "The impact and influence a leader can have in an organization and with the community we serve, matters. FLPD will be transparent and accountable, highlighting the things we do well and acknowledging when we are wrong."

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, produces WLRN's midday public affairs program, Sundial weekdays at 1 and 8 p.m. Prior to transitioning to production, Caitie covered news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News for four years.