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    Tampa Bay briefs

    By Times staff reports

    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001

    Largo police rethink hiring standard

    LARGO -- Two weeks after assuming the job of Largo's police chief, Lester Aradi is revamping a department policy that some consider cutting edge but critics complain has hampered recruiting efforts.

    Aradi wants to eliminate the bachelor's degree requirement for Largo police officers.

    Instead, the chief wants officers to be able to have just two-year degrees and at least two years of law enforcement or military experience or speak a foreign language fluently.

    Like many law enforcement agencies in Florida and across America, the department has struggled to recruit officers. Largo has 12 vacant officer positions in its 116-member department.

    Aradi discussed his proposal with city commissioners at Wednesday evening's work session. With their approval, he plans to change the policy today. The bachelor's degree requirement was put in place in 1997 by former police Chief Jerry Bloechle. Largo is the only law enforcement agency in Pinellas County that requires its officers to have a four-year college degree.

    Jury says shooting was murder

    It took a six-person jury just 30 minutes to reject the defense's argument

    The jury found Collazo, 22, guilty of first-degree murder on Wednesday afternoon after a three-day trial. Circuit Judge William Webb, as required by law, immediately sentenced Collazo to life in prison without parole.

    St. Petersburg man, 58, dies when car hits pole

    TAMPA -- A St. Petersburg man died when his car spun out of control Tuesday on Sheldon Road. Eugene Semonelle, of 2570 33rd Ave. N, was traveling south on Sheldon when he lost control of his 1999 Chevrolet Camaro south of Crown Boulevard at 10:55 p.m., said Hillsborough sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter.

    The 58-year-old was going about 60 mph when his car slid sideways across Sheldon and hit a Tampa Electric utility pole on the driver's side, Carter said. Semonelle, who was wearing a seat belt, died at the scene.

    Boyfriend on probation for battery is berated

    NEW PORT RICHEY -- It wasn't Jeffrey Crouch's past that angered the judge. It was the lies.

    After finding Crouch guilty Tuesday of violating his probation on a misdemeanor domestic battery conviction, an obviously disturbed Pasco County Judge Marc Salton pondered the sentence.

    Not part of the judge's deliberations was Crouch's notorious history: The Port Richey shrimper had once been charged in his wife's slaying and still is a suspect in the 1998 death of his son.

    Salton said he was frustrated that each time Crouch has been arrested and accused of crimes, the story changes by the time it got to court.

    After a stern lecture, Salton sentenced Crouch, 45, to 30 days in the county jail. Salton found that Crouch violated his probation by ignoring a court order that said he was to have no contact with his girlfriend.

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