1. Archive

Police chief will stay put

Police Chief Lester Aradi isn't going anywhere yet.

He interviewed last week for a chief's job in Batavia, Ill., a community of 24,000 outside Chicago. But that city has eliminated him as a finalist.

So, Aradi, 54, who disclosed earlier this month his desire to return to the Chicago area to be near his family, will be staying around for a while longer.

"There is no hurry," Aradi said Tuesday. "My wife and I said we were going to put it in God's hands. . . . I am not throwing my resume in the wind."

Two of Aradi's three adult children live in the Windy City, as do members of his wife's family. He visited some of them while interviewing for the Batavia job.

"I had a nice family meeting, and they said they're okay with me staying around here for a little longer," he said. "They feel that we shouldn't make any hasty decisions."

Aradi began his career in law enforcement in 1973 as a public safety officer at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. A year later, he became a patrol officer for the Wheeling (Ill.) Police Department. In 1976, Aradi joined the Buffalo Grove (Ill.) Police Department, rising through the ranks from officer to sergeant to commander to deputy chief.

In 2001, Aradi came to Largo.

Batavia city officials would not say on Tuesday why they eliminated Aradi as a candidate, but said the pool of applicants was very strong.

Aradi heard from Batavia on Monday, then shared the news with City Manager Steven Stanton. On Tuesday, he told the rest of the department.

Aradi said he had not yet applied to any other departments.

"I have no other irons in the fire," he said. "The way I look at it, I have something to challenge me here."