Denver firefighter known as ‘racist rover’ loses job after investigation

Lt. Jared Russo allegedly told a Black firefighter "all you guys look alike," and said to another, "You drive good for an Asian guy."

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A Colorado firefighter known as “racist rover” has been terminated from his position after an internal probe prompted by a captain who said he didn’t want to work with him.

The Denver Post reported that in July 2022, a Denver Fire Department captain asked that Lt. Jared Russo not be assigned to their station, accusing him of making weird and “off-the-wall” remarks with racial undertones to crew members.

The subsequent DFD investigation revealed that Russo frequently marginalized and demeaned his co-workers, allegedly using racist language numerous times. In one instance, Russo allegedly told a Black firefighter “all you guys look alike,” and said to another colleague, “You drive good for an Asian guy.”

'Racist rover' Jared Russo
A Denver firefighter nicknamed “racist rover” is off the job after an internal investigation revealed that he repeatedly made remarks with racial undertones to his coworkers. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube.com/CBS News Colorado)

Russo’s inflammatory remarks caused “discomfort, alienation and division,” according to Mary J. Dulacki, chief deputy executive director of Denver’s Department of Public Safety. She stated in a disciplinary action order that hateful, intolerant behavior has no place in the fire department.

“The Denver Fire Department expects more of its membership,” Dulacki said, The Post reported, “and the community it serves demands and deserves better.”

Russo was a 12-year veteran when officials fired him on Dec. 1, according to Fox31.

Investigators discovered that Russo allegedly claimed the Holocaust did not occur and that enslaved people “were lucky to have been brought to this country,” The Post reported. According to the disciplinary record, the lieutenant once commented, “Hitler was a better person than Abraham Lincoln.”

Russo, a self-described history enthusiast, claimed that he found the term “racist rover” unpleasant and contended that history differs from what most people imagine. 

However, he acknowledged that some themes, such as slavery, shouldn’t be discussed at the firehouse.

In the letter of discipline, Dulacki wrote that 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,” The Post reported.

Russo set up a GoFundMe page asking for help with his legal fees so he could hire a lawyer to appeal his termination — a circumstance he admits was due to “possibly offensive things I’ve said,” Fox31 reported.

“The individuals that I could ascertain were the possible direct victims of my words, have written me positive character witness statements that have been given to the city,” Russo claimed on GoFundMe.com. “All are also good friends. I have also sought out others whom I may have offended and apologized to them.”

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