Niagara Gazette — It was a snappy salute for his troops from Falls Police Capt. John DeMarco.
As the soon-to-retire administrative captain received one of his department's top honors on Friday, he said he wanted to express his appreciation to the men and women who helped him do his job.
"I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank the men and women of this department for the job they do," said the ex-Marine of his impromptu gesture of respect. "I think this is one of the finest department's in the area."
DeMarco was one of four officers and one civilian employee to receive the Chief's Award as part of the Falls Police Department's annual honors program.
"It was totally unexpected," DeMarco said.
Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto also tapped Traffic Capt. Salvatore Pino for the honor. Pino was recognized for his "leadership and performance" in guiding preparations for Nik Wallenda's "Walk Over The Falls."
"I'm very honored to get (the Chief's Award)," Pino said. "Wallenda was the biggest thing I've ever been involved in and it was just so much fun. We had no troubles and everything went well."
The department's long-time law advisor, Bernard Stack, received a Chief's Award for his "tireless efforts to provide guidance and counsel."
Also receiving Chief's Awards were Emergency Response Team commander Capt. Dave LeGault and deputy commander Lt. Dave Kok. DalPorto noted that the pair have conducted over 100 "high risk drugs raids" as well as dealing with several armed stand-offs during their tenure.
"It was a surprise, truly surprising and humbling and unexpected," LeGault said. "I love working with the ERT. I love working with the guys on the ERT and it's not about one guy (on the ERT). It's all about the team."
LeGault praised Kok, and fellow ERT Lt. Ted Weed, calling their work with the team "amazing."
"It feels good (to receive the Chief's Award) and I was very humbled," Kok said. "I definitely enjoy (working on the ERT). It's exciting and rewarding work."
The department's Outstanding Detective Award went to Det. John Conti. Traffic Officer Michael Drake and Patrol Officer Shaun Bielec where were honored as the Distinguished Senior and Junior Officers.
The Leo Maj Memorial Award, which is presented to a uniformed officer for their commitment to overall excellence of duty and dedication to the community, was presented to Officer Dave Cudahy. Cudahy, who serves in the department's Community Relations Section, was cited for his work on the police Business District Initiative.
The program has targeted retail crime and has been embraced by local businesses. Cudahy also oversees the department's annual bike rodeos and is the department's Honor Guard bagpiper.
Friday was also an opportunity for the department to promote two of its own and announce a new command assignment.
Dalporto announced that LeGault will replace the recently retirement Capt. Morris Shamrock as the commander in the Narcotics Investigations Division. It marks a return to the division for LeGault who had previously been a lieutenant in charge of the Roving Anti-Crime Unit.
Stepping up to replace LeGault as the afternoon shift commander is newly promoted Capt. Joseph Casale.
Casale is a 23-year veteran of the force and has spent his entire career in the patrol division. He said he's looking forward to the new challenge.
"I'm honored, I'm humbled, it's been a lot of hard work," Casale said of his promotion and appointment. "I'm looking forward to carrying the new chief's vision for the department forward."
Widely regard as a "great teacher" for young officers, Casale said he doesn't see that role changing.
"There's no way I could do this job any differently," he said.
The department also promoted 23-year veteran officer Ron Cirrito to the rank of lieutenant. After spending 21 years on the overnight shift, Cirrito will take Casale's place as an afternoon shift lieutenant.
"I don't think (the job) will be that different for me," Cirrito said. "And I think my military experience will help out."
A long time field training officer, Cirrito has helped introduce most of the young officers, who will now be under his command, to police work.
"They'll know what I expect," he said. "I'm someone who'll be looking to make them better officers."
DalPorto said he could not be happier with his new additions to the police brass.
"They were both at the top of the (Civil Service) list," the police superintendent said. "But who better to lead patrol (officers) then two people who have spent their whole lives in patrol. They have come up through the ranks, they came from the trenches and, you know, patrol is the backbone of a police department."