All city departments to be audited following toxic workplace allegations at Sac Fire

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – The Sacramento City Council has approved an audit into all city departments over complaints of workplace culture following multiple publicly made allegations of racism and sexism by current and former employees at the Sacramento Fire Department. 

Desmond Lewis misses his days with the Sacramento Fire Department, a dream job he left earlier this year after reporting a toxic workplace culture.

“I sacrificed a lot to be a firefighter and to walk away from it was very difficult for me,” Lewis said.

Because of whistleblower complaints like his that allege incidents of racial insensitivity and sexism within the department, city leaders want a solution.

“A few of the departments, one particularly our fire department and police department, have been in the press recently,” said City Councilmember Eric Guerra. “So we asked the Department of Safety and Accountability to create an investigation on this very specific issue.”

They’re asking the city auditor to investigate the root of the problem in all city departments in a new audit.

“We met with the director of Public Safety and Accountability and got together to see what we could do really dive into how the city currently handles these types of issues and to identify potential areas for improvement,”

Lewis said the audit is a step in the right direction but will then require action.

“Acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step, but making sure there’s programs and money that can help change the actual culture and the actual diversity is far more important than just acknowledging that you have a problem,” he explained.

Guerra says he’s committed to putting an end to discrimination on the job.

“It doesn’t make any sense for us to train a very diverse workforce if all that’s gonna happen is they’re gonna leave once the begin working for our city ,” Guerra said.

The first change Lewis recommends is diversifying staff of all ranks.

“Our whole command staff is white men, not that they’re not qualified, that’s not what I’m trying to say that they’re not deserving but to feel like there’s no representation for people that look like me at all,” Lewis said. “I think that would have changed a lot like who I could go to.”

Sacramento Fire released a statement that reads in part: 

“The fire department looks forward to our continued partnership with City leaders working to increase diversity and improve our agency. The City Auditors report will be another excellent tool as we strive for better.”

Sacramento Fire Department

Since many of the complaints came to light, the department has mandated training on discrimination and harassment for all employees.  

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