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New LA Fire Chief Wants An 'Inclusive' Environment After Past Leadership's Harassment Allegations

LAFD Deputy Chief Kristin Crowley smiles and poses in her uniform.
LAFD Deputy Chief Kristin Crowley attends The 2019 MAKERS Conference at Monarch Beach Resort on Feb. 7, 2019 in Dana Point.
(Rachel Murray
Getty Images)
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Los Angeles’ first female — and first openly gay — fire chief, Kristin Crowley wants to ensure accountability and create a better work environment for all firefighters as she begins her first week as leader of the department.

“Stepping into this role is a huge responsibility that I take on wholeheartedly, and we're going to build the culture of inclusiveness, equity, and ensure that everybody comes to work and we feel supported and that we're part of the team,” Crowley told Larry Mantle onAirTalk, our newsroom’s public affairs show.

Crowley, a 22-year veteran of the department, was sworn in last Friday. She replaced Ralph Terrazas, L.A.’s first Latino fire chief, who recently retired.

Several firefighters had called for his resignation, accusing Terrazas of failing to address what they described as “a pervasive racist and sexist culture” within the LAFD.

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The allegations of harmful culture affected many people in the department. Last year, LAist spoke to multiple women who shared that the men in the department were sexual harrassing and verbally abusing them. Firefighters of color also felt there was "preferential treatment" given to white men. A white LAFD chief deputy in July, who was allegedly drunk on the job, received no punishments and a $1.4 million payout.

Crowley said issues brought forward by members of the department are taken very seriously, and that the environment should be conducive for everyone — regardless of race, ethnicity or gender.

“It’s creating that space and a path forward of ensuring we have accountability, and we have a big line in the sand of how we’re going to treat one another in the fire stations, as well as how we treat the community,” she said.

When asked whether she has faced sexism in her career, Crowley said “issues” have come up “once in a while” but that her “journey has been a positive one.”

When a problem did occur, Crowley said she favored handling it at the “lowest level” — meaning she had a direct conversation with the person who’d crossed a line.

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