A Denver firefighter nicknamed “racist rover” has been fired from the department after an internal investigation found he repeatedly marginalized and demeaned his coworkers.
Lt. Jared Russo “may be able to perform the on-scene duties of a firefighter, (but) he does not possess the required character to be a Denver firefighter,” Mary J. Dulacki, chief deputy executive director of Denver’s Department of Public Safety, wrote in an order of disciplinary action obtained by The Denver Post.
The Denver Fire Department launched an internal investigation in July after a captain requested that Russo not be assigned to their station. Crews reported to the captain that Russo makes “odd, off-the-wall comments with racial undertones,” investigators wrote, and that they preferred not to work with him.
The report listed a host of examples where Russo made alleged racist remarks. Firefighters told investigators that Russo said “all you guys look alike” to a Black firefighter and that Asians are bad drivers.
Russo also allegedly said that the Holocaust never happened, investigators found, and that “slaves were lucky to have been brought to this country.” The lieutenant, according to the disciplinary document, once said “Hitler was a better person than Abraham Lincoln.”
Russo told investigators that he found the “racist rover” nickname offensive, saying he’s a history buff but that history is “is very different from what most people think.” He admitted that some of these conversation topics — like slavery — shouldn’t be discussed at the firehouse.
Dulacki, in the disciplinary action, said Russo’s offensive comments resulted in “discomfort, alienation and division” and that “hateful, intolerant speech has no place in the firehouse.”
“The Denver Fire Department expects more of its membership and the community it serves demands and deserves better,” she wrote.
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