In 23 years, Joseph Salvato said that he hasn’t worked a single day.
The Special Operations Lieutenant with the 106th Precinct – set to retire April 30 – said that, since he began his career with the NYPD, he “can’t recall having a bad day.”
The first in his family to join the Force, Salvato, 43, said he “always wanted to be a police officer when I was a little kid.”
He, a friend and his friend’s brother all took the test to join the NYPD; of the three, Salvato, 16, was the only one to pass. He graduated the Police Academy at only 20 years old.
And so began his upward trajectory in the ranks – and his commitment to serve and protect.
His first assignment was the Field Training Unit at Fort Apache and the 49th Precinct in the Bronx.
“That was right after the movie [“Fort Apache, The Bronx”] came out,” said Salvato. “I loved being a cop in the Bronx, we all did everything together.”
Next it was on to the 90th Precinct serving Williamsburg and Bushwick, Brooklyn and the 101st Precinct in Rockaway.
For nearly the past decade, Salvato has been a staple at the 106th Precinct, serving Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Howard Beach.
“You have to admit, it’s a great community in the 106th – a lot of people get involved, and that’s what I love about it,” he said.
In 1998, Salvato achieved the rank of sergeant; three years later, he made lieutenant.
“When I was in field training I always knew I wanted to be a lieutenant,” he told The Courier. “And when I was Community Affairs [in the 106th], I remember telling my wife, ‘I want to be Special Operations Lieutenant [in the 106th].”
Under his tutelage, the 106th Precinct has led the city in prostitution stings.
His record, he said, was 25 arrests in one day.
“I put decoys out and people just flock,” he said, noting that some of those arrested were also wanted for other crimes, or recidivists. “If I nip it in the bud [early], I won’t have a problem. We get a lot of bad people by doing little things.”
Salvato also got the first hit on a “bait car” (one set up to be stolen) in the city.
“I looked and saw we had ‘x’ number of cars stolen in a month. CompStat helped me break it down, and I said, ‘I can make a dent in this.’”
In addition, Salvato has led the charge in closing down problem establishments, has attended numerous community meetings as a representative of the NYPD – and has helped countless residents improve their quality of life.
“The numbers are incredible – over the years, with every captain, every new bunch of officers, the [crime] numbers go down,” he said. “I think it’s [due to] thinking outside the box, doing things differently. Everyone wants his community to be a good community and we all work together – that’s why it’s gotten better over the years.”
Now, as his last day nears, Salvato admitted that the decision to retire was “tough.”
“I’m going to miss everyone, miss the community. This was a really hard decision because I love my job.”
“This was the go-to guy,” said Precinct Council president Frank Dardani.
So what is Salvato looking forward to next?
He, his wife Ronni and their daughters, Heather, 13, and Olivia, 2, will be moving to Florida.
“They love the fact that I’m eating dinner with them every night,” Salvato said. “I’m looking so forward to living.”