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Police captain calls it a career

Capt. Richard Scudder, known for his quick wit and likable personality, will retire on Feb. 20.

By BRADY DENNIS, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 10, 2002

ZEPHYRHILLS -- A conversation with Zephyrhills Police Capt. Richard Scudder almost always ends the same way:

ZEPHYRHILLS -- A conversation with Zephyrhills Police Capt. Richard Scudder almost always ends the same way:

"Remember, the only easy day was yesterday, baby!"

Pretty soon, most days will be easy days for Scudder, 48. And that's just the way he wants it.

After almost 25 years with the department, Scudder will call it a career at 5 p.m. on Feb. 20.

His plans?

Spend time with his wife, Laurie Anglin. Play the craps tables in Biloxi, Miss., and Las Vegas. Watch the Navy SEALs train on the beaches of Coronado, Calif. Hang out with friends. Stay in shape. Fish.

"I'm definitely going to miss the camaraderie of the officers around here," Scudder said. "I've loved working for the city of Zephyrhills. They have been good people. But it's time to move on. I have no regrets."

The only regret co-workers seem to have is that he couldn't stay longer. Everywhere you turn, someone is telling a story about Scudder, mostly about his sense of humor or his penchant to cause mischief.

"I've known him since high school," said Zephyrhills Police Chief Robert Howell. "My wife and I ran the municipal (swimming) pool back then. He used to come and chase the girls around. I remember he spent a lot of time under water."

Anna Poe, a longtime friend of Scudder's, said she also has a treasure chest full of stories about Scudder, few of them suitable for print.

She did give a few details, like how obsessed Scudder is with looking -- and smelling -- his best.

"He uses a lot of cologne," Poe said. "He must go through a bottle of Obsession a week."

She also described his infatuation with his newest toy, a Toyota 4Runner.

"I sent him a birth announcement just for the truck," Poe said. "It's his new little pride and joy."

Scudder's road to Zephyrhills started in Queens, N.Y., where he grew up. He spent summers in Florida, and his family finally moved to Zephyrhills in 1969.

He graduated from Zephyrhills High School in 1971 and enrolled in St. Petersburg Junior College. When he decided that wasn't for him, he joined the Navy and manned a guided missile cruiser, the USS William H. Stanley, stationed out of Charleston, S.C.

After that he spent time at Hillsborough Community College in Plant City, where he took a criminal law class and found his calling -- law enforcement.

He worked six months as an officer at Zephyrhills Correctional Institution, but the job wore on him.

"I wasn't too crazy about it," said Scudder, his dark hair and mustache tightly trimmed. "I felt like the prisoners had more rights than the people who worked there.

"Instead of babysitting them, I decided to do something to help incarcerate the criminals."

On Aug. 14, 1977, he started at the Zephyrhills Police Department. He never left.

While Scudder is known for his quick wit, his unique aphorisms and his ever-present smile, friends and co-workers say those qualities offer only a snapshot of the man.

"He would do anything for you. He'd give you the shirt off his back," Poe said. "He loves life, and he enjoys it."

Howell agreed.

"There's no phoniness in him. What you see is who he is," said Howell, who will retire on Oct. 1. "He has been a loyal, dedicated, responsible police officer.

"He's become a good friend, too. And when you've got good employees who can also become good friends, you're way ahead of the game."

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