By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — When he became the Falls top cop, Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said he wanted to put more officers on the street.
He's done that in a variety of ways, but I don't think anyone thought he planned to put himself on the street.
Still, the chief showed that once a street cop, always a street cop on Tuesday, when he responded to a call of a fight outside a Pine Avenue convenience store.
Patrol Officer Ken Redmond was the first officer on the scene and reported that a suspect, armed with a knife, had attacked a man, his girlfriend and their child. The victim said another man, Steven Willard Jr. provoked a fight with him and then pulled out a knife and began chasing him around a parking lot.
In the process of chasing the victim, Willard knocked over a stroller with a three-week-old infant in it.
After knocking over the infant, Willard got on a bicycle and rode away. Redmond immediately radioed out a description of Willard.
DalPorto, who was nearby, heard the dispatch and almost immediately spotted a man on a bike, matching Willard's description. Willard was pedaling down Pine Avenue but saw a marked police car and made a quick turn onto 18th Street.
The chief, in an unmarked SUV, followed and radioed to other officers that he had the suspect in his sights.
DalPorto then drove past Willard and pulled his SUV in front of him in an attempt to stop him. As DalPorto stepped from his vehicle, a shocked Willard proceeded to drive into the open door of the SUV.
The chief, along with Patrol Officer Jeff Grzeskwiak, then took Willard into custody. They also recovered a blue-handled knife.
Willard, 21, 437 20th St., Apt. 4, was charged with second-degree menacing, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child.Contact Reporter Rick Pfeiffer at 282-231, ext. 2252.