Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo police Chief Lester Aradi to step down

Largo police Chief Lester Aradi announced Wednesday that he is planning to retire from the department June 1.

Aradi, who has led the department since 2001, broke the news of his departure in an open letter to Largo residents.

"After a 36-year career in law enforcement, the time has now come for me to announce to you, the people that I work for, of my intention to retire," he wrote.

Aradi was not available to comment Wednesday afternoon.

City officials say they have known about the chief's intention to retire for some time, and they plan to promote Deputy Chief John Carroll to department chief.

Aradi, 58, impressed his bosses with his knack for making himself available to city residents and listening to their complaints over the past nine years.

"He could stay as long as he wanted, as far as we're concerned," Mayor Patricia Gerard said. "I think he's made a real effort to not just be a part of this community, but let people know who he is."

City Manager Mac Craig said Aradi would leave behind a city that is better off because of his service.

"He really had a connection with the people of Largo," Craig said.

As for his reasons for departure, city officials said the chief simply believed it was time.

"He told his staff today that whatever he did, he wouldn't do anything for about a year, and didn't plan on being in law enforcement," Craig said. "Being the chief of the city of Largo would be the pinnacle of his law enforcement career."

The mayor joked that he may be looking to buy a horse farm somewhere.

Aradi began a life of police work in 1973 as a public safety officer for Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. A year later, he moved on to be a patrol officer in Wheeling, Ill, and then two years later, moved to the Buffalo Grove Police Department in Buffalo Grove, Ill., where he spent the next 25 years and rose to deputy chief.

Shortly after winning the Largo job when the city went on a nationwide search for a new police chief in 2000, Aradi inherited a department facing tensions between officers and the city manager, and remnants of a sexual misconduct scandal involving officers.

Since he took over, the department has been relatively controversy free.

"I can't remember the last time I got a complaint from a citizen about the police department or the police chief," Gerard said. "I think that is about Lester, how he's really worked hard to make sure our relationships in the community are good."

Shortly before he arrived in Largo with his wife, Diane, from his home state of Illinois in 2001, Aradi stated his desire to "stick around for a while" — and that he was interested in experiencing something different, and taking on a new challenge.

Aradi shared in his retirement announcement to residents some of his memories, and how his time in Largo was meaningful.

"During this time we have chatted over coffee, walked the streets of our community together, met in our churches, enjoyed times of celebration, and sadly shared the worst possible human tragedies together," Aradi said.

"I have been truly blessed to be part of the fabric of this wonderful community."

Dominick Tao can be reached at dtao@sptimes.com or (727) 580-2951.

Largo police Chief Lester Aradi to step down 04/28/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 7:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Nearly 40 hospitalized on first day Sunset Music Festival, on pace to exceed last year

    News

    To reduce the number of medical emergencies this year, sponsors of the Sunset Music Festival promised heightened security and safety measures during this weekend's event at Raymond James Stadium.

    Thousands of people crowd the main stage at the Sunset Music Festival on the grounds of the Raymond James Stadium parking lot in Tampa. Temperature at the time of this photo was 92F [Saturday, May 28, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. Woman killed in overnight Temple Terrace apartment fire, city says

    Fire

    TEMPLE TERRACE — A woman died early Sunday as a result of a fire at an apartment complex, city officials said.

  3. Video: Indianapolis 500 drivers in fiery crash somehow walk away uninjured

    Auto racing

    Scott Dixon and Jay Howard avoided injury in a spectacular crash - or what Dixon labeled "a wild ride" afterward - during the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

  4. Homeland security chief defends Kushner's alleged proposal for 'back channel' to the Russians as 'a good thing"

    National

    Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, the lone administration official to speak out publicly about reports that Jared Kushner sought a back channel to communicate with the Russian government, defended the move, saying it was a "good thing" for the U.S. government.

    Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, listens during a meeting with small business leaders at the White House on Jan. 30. [Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford]
  5. After hard charging on health care in 2016, Marco Rubio is slow, careful

    Blogs

    As a presidential candidate, Marco Rubio pitched an Obamacare replacement and tore into Donald Trump for not having one. "What is your plan? What is your plan on health care? You don't have a plan," the Florida senator aggressively challenged in a February 2016 debate.