Make us your home page

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 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

  1. VIDEO: Obamacare is "death,' President Trump says


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is calling Obamacare "death," as he urges Republican senators to "do the right thing" on an overhaul effort.

    President Donald Trump speaks about healthcare, Monday, July 24, 2017, in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington.[Alex Brandon | Associated Press]
  2. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride


    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  3. CDC changes Zika virus guidance for pregnant women

    Federal health officials are changing their testing recommendations for pregnant women who may be exposed to the Zika virus through travel or sex or because of where they live.

  4. Necropsy confirms drowning as Snooty the manatee's cause of death

    Human Interest

    BRADENTON— The South Florida museum aquarium will re-open Tuesday and grief counselors will be available after the untimely death of beloved manatee Snooty.

    Snooty, the Manatee County mascot, turned 60 in 2008. Hundreds of people came to the Parker Manatee Aquarium to see Snooty at his birthday party. He was the first manatee to have a recorded birth date on July 21, 1948.

 [Times (2008)]
  5. Charlie Gard's parents withdraw legal action over their sick baby


    LONDON — The parents of critically ill baby Charlie Gard dropped their legal bid Monday to send him to the United States for experimental treatment after new medical tests showed it could no longer help.

    Chris Gard and Connie Yates, the parents of critically ill infant Charlie Gard, arrive at the Royal Courts of Justice in London ahead of the latest High Court hearing in London Monday July 24, 2017. They  returned  to the court for the latest stage in their effort to seek permission to take the child to the United States for medical treatment. Britain's High Court is considering new evidence in the case of Charlie Gard. The 11-month-old has a rare genetic condition, and his parents want to take him to America to receive an experimental treatment. [Jonathan Brady | PA via AP]