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Denver firefighter nicknamed 'Racist Rover' terminated after disciplinary action

Posted at 4:33 PM, Jan 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-10 18:33:28-05

DENVER — A lieutenant with the Denver Fire Department, given the nickname of "Racist Rover" by some firefighters, was terminated after an investigation into allegations he made racially-insensitive comments, making other firefighters uncomfortable, according to a disciplinary action letter obtained by Denver7 Tuesday.

Jared Russo, who worked in District 5, was terminated on Dec. 1 after an internal investigation into the allegations opened on July 27. A comment by a captain regarding his nickname triggered the investigation, the letter read.

Russso was accused of making multiple derogatory comments regarding Asian, Black, Hispanic and Jewish people, earning him the nickname “Racist Rover,” according to the disciplinary letter.

During the investigation, department officials interviewed several firefighters who worked with Russo. Many of them claimed Russo made racist comments suggesting the Holocaust never happened and slaves were lucky to be brought to the United States, according to the disciplinary document.

One firefighter told officials during the investigation that Russo allegedly told him once that, “Hitler was a better person than Abraham Lincoln.” Russo’s alleged comments made many of his fellow firefighters uncomfortable, the letter reads.

When questioned about his alleged behavior, Russo said some of his comments were misconstrued and were meant to be taken as a joke. He told officials that the alleged comments were, "'Mental musings’ and had nothing to do with aggravating people,” the letter read.

Additionally, Russo defended some of his alleged comments, saying he was a history buff and “went on to describe, at times quite passionately, how history is very different from what most people think,” the disciplinary document read.

Armando Saldate, executive director of the Department of Public Safety, and Desmond Fulton, chief of the Denver Fire Department, released the following joint statement regarding the termination:

"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," the joint statement read.