Chief Lester Aradi's Suspension
To: The Editor
I have heard about the situation with Chief Aradi through various local news sources. Having known each of you involved with this situation, I am really surprised by your course of action with Chief Aradi and Officer Citrano.
I have worked with you many times when I was on the City's Advisory Board for the Public Works/Environmental Services and thought you to be a reasonable person, intelligent and somewhat thoughtful of your managers and employees below you. I have had a couple of encounters with Officer Citrano while dealing with some issues in my neighborhood and have found him to be intelligent, mindful and knowledgeable of his position on the Largo Police Force. He is also very friendly and able to deal with situations in a reasonable manner. I have met Chief Aradi on many occasions and have found him to be an excellent manager, friendly, and very knowledgeable of police rules and regulations. He deals very well with his officers on all levels and will work with any individual to give them the benefit of doubt. By being flexible, he has been able to get a better working relationship with his people under him.
As a manager, you and I both know, a hammer is not always the best tool to use to discipline an individual - especially when there is a first time infraction. Trust in your managers below you is something that must be given for them to do their work without having to go behind themselves to second-guess any decisions they make. If this takes place, then you have destroyed any and all relationships you have in your managers - and the employees below them!
I had a similar situation happen to me many years ago (it was actually my first job when I got out of the Air Force). I was a manager of a repair group that refurbished military airborne equipment. One of my employees kept messing up and I had taken him aside several times to deal with him. He continued to not do his job well and I fired him. Within a week after I fired him, the manager above me hired him back. I told him and the President of the company (who was just above the manager) that I quit because I could not work with anyone who did not have faith in me to do my job and my abilities to manage my group. The point here is: by your actions you have done with this situation, you have questioned your manager's abilities and the way he manages his department. As with all rules, there is some flexibility in the rules and regulations in dealing with personnel issues. You have shown that you are not flexible and you do not have faith in your managers.
All the individuals in this situation did not need your intervention and you have destroyed relationships in a fantastic department. You have undermined the Chief's authority. Chief Aradi handled his personnel and the individuals involved have great records that got the appropriate disciple they deserved at the time. I fear you may have come to a point that you may loose a fantastic Chief. I pray that this doesn't happen. The City of Largo has a great police department and fantastic people who work there.
- Charles Graul
To: The Editor
After learning about the City of Largo's and city of Largo Police Department's "Discipline Procedures " (or Policy/Procedures - not sure of the exact name of these documents, but something close to these) about personnel infractions/violations and reprimands/dismissal, I must apologize for not having all the information needed to write you the letter I did before. The "Discipline Procedures" are "black and white" as to what action that should have been taken for the officer in question. If anyone, including the media people, had this information up front, they would have to agree as well. Because the Chief did not follow what was defined in this document, I understand your action with the Chief. If the Chief finds fault with the written procedure of what needed to be done, then he, his staff, you, and/or the other city officials need to sit down and redefine these procedures. Unfortunately, because the procedures, as written as of this date, are the tools you have to go by.
I apologize to Chief Aradi that all this happened but unfortunately the city's and Police Department's guidelines/procedures were very clear (black/white) as to what should have been done about the officer and that put you, Mr. Craig, in an unfortunate position. Mr. Craig, I know that you have a great admiration and respect for the Chief, and because of that, you took the action you did with Chief Aradi.
Hopefully, all those concerned will learn from all of this and maybe ALL personnel should be reminded about the "Discipline Procedures" - at review time for city personnel or a department class for city personnel.
- Charles Graul
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