REDONDO BEACH (CBS) — Police chiefs are not usually known for taking down bad guys on their own, but somebody forgot to tell that to Joe Leonardi.
Leonardi, Redondo Beach’s chief of police, is being commended by his officers Friday for jumping on a bike, disregarding his business suit and tie, and chasing down a possible burglary suspect.
“Ah, the first time I saw the chief, ah, he was on a black beach cruiser,” Officer Steve Sabosky said. “I wasn’t sure what I was seeing at that point.”
The 58-year-old chief was driving through the city after lunch Thursday when he spotted a man on a bicycle who matched the description of someone who had attacked a public works employee.
Leonardi tried to follow the suspect for as long as he could in his Ford Crown Victoria, but the man had abandoned his bike and was jumping fences and running.
“He’s actually 21 years younger than me, and he was so fast that I realized I wasn’t going to be able to catch up, so I decided to get on the bike and try to catch him,” Leonardi said.
Sabosky, who was responding to Leonardi’s call for help, ultimately cornered the suspect and arrested him with the chief’s help. But not before a few confusing thoughts crossed Sabosky’s mind.
“Was that the chief?” Sabosky recalls thinking to himself. “Or is he out for exercise?”
Morgan Wayne Walker, 36, was arrested on suspicion of evading arrest and possession of stolen property – a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo college ring that was recently stolen from a Hermosa Beach resident that Walker is believed to have dumped during the chase.
Leonardi has been spotted in the past, running in the street, gun drawn, in his suit and even directing traffic when he’s short staffed. Chasing down bad guys or directing traffic is not typically part of a police chief’s job, but not to Leonardi.
“My feeling is that everybody has to play a part,” Leonardi said.