DENVER — City officials have fired a Denver firefighter for "hateful intolerant speech" after he gained a reputation for mocking people of ethnic backgrounds and sharing offensive thoughts while working at various fire stations.
According to discipline documents obtained by 9NEWS, nearly 10 firefighters were interviewed about Jared Russo's behavior.
“Lieutenant Russo’s misconduct extended beyond a single house to where he became known throughout the district and beyond as the ‘racist rover,’ ” a notice of disciplinary action says.
According to the discipline documents, other firefighters did not like working with Russo because he “was opinionated and could be abrasive.”
“We will have no tolerance for hateful speech," wrote Mary Duclacki, chief deputy executive director of Public Safety, in her order of termination on Dec. 1. "It is also striking that Lieutenant Russo lacked the basic social awareness to read others’ reactions to his conversations and cease or moderate his speech.”
A man with the same name as Russo has been soliciting donations online to help with his legal defense in the wake of his termination.
“I am now being terminated for discussions with other members at the firehouse over possibly offensive things I’ve said,” Russo wrote online.
“I have also sought out others whom I may have offended and apologized to them," he added. "However, this has not dissuaded the city from firing me. Any contribution to help would be greatly appreciated.”
Executive Director of Public Safety Armando Saldate and Denver Fire Chief Desmond Fulton sent 9NEWS the statement below:
“There is no room for racism in the Denver Fire Department, or any Denver public safety agency. The comments and sentiments expressed by this individual are incompatible with wearing the Denver Fire uniform and are antithetical to the values of this Department. We hope this sends a clear message that racism will not be tolerated in the Department of Public Safety, and that we will continue to take swift action to address issues like this if they arise in the future.”
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