City of Leon Valley: Small town with cutting edge communications needs

Posted on December 16, 2019

by Joseph Salvaggio, Chief of Police, Leon Valley, Texas

Leon Valley is a small city stuck in the middle of 7th largest city in the nation. We used to be on the outskirts. But as San Antonio has grown up around Leon Valley, we’ve become encircled.

And being that close to the inner city of San Antonio, we deal with many of the same problems – in crime and other issues – that the large city does. But being a smaller city gives us a lot more responsibilities than some of your smaller cities around the nation.

We have only about 11,500 people in 3.4 square miles in Leon Valley. But we have seven apartment complexes, a lot of neighborhoods, and probably the busiest street in the San Antonio area – if not one of the busiest in the state.

Upwards of 90,000 cars come up and down that road each and every day. So the biggest issue that we deal with are the accidents and responding. And it’s imperative that when we get those calls, or if we need to call for assistance, that we’re able to do so.

This is why we went with FirstNet.


Before going with FirstNet, we were on a large nationwide carrier – one of the largest in the nation. But we continued to receive the dropped calls. Or we couldn’t get through on our computers when we really needed to in the major part of the day. And that’s when our biggest issues were occurring.

When we’d try run people on our MDTs (mobile display terminals), the system would just freeze. It would take us forever to get through. And sometimes it took multiple tries.

Since we’ve gone with FirstNet, we’ve not had any of those problems. We get priority in the system. And that has been a tremendous help for all of us to respond to the citizens’ needs.

This is critical because the risk to our community and to our officers is tremendous if we don’t have the ability to get through. We don’t have the time to wait during an emergency.

Answering the calls

My officers are very excited about having FirstNet. It speeds up their ability – whether on a traffic stop or answering a call or writing reports – to use the computer system and phones as designed. It makes us more efficient. In the long run, it ensures that we’re out there as efficiently as possible, making the calls the citizens expect us to make.

Safety and security is the number one thing. Making sure our officers and citizens are safe. And making sure that we can respond and talk to each other in times of emergency is extremely important.

My guys are good at what they do. And if they can get to the scene and they can communicate with each other, we’re all going to have a successful operation. If they can’t, or if I can’t get a hold of them for whatever reason, then it’s going to be problematic. So knowing that the communication’s going to work, for my officers and for our community, has helped me sleep better at night.

I have full faith and confidence in my officers. Now I have full faith and confidence in the system to get them there.


The biggest benefit that we’ve seen by switching to FirstNet is the reliability and the interoperability of the system. And just the safety and security in knowing that we are going to be there in case of an emergency.

Interoperability is key to our job.

I spent 29 years with the City of San Antonio before retiring as a captain and as the commander of the airport police department. San Antonio’s law enforcement works together. If they need help, we’re going to go. If we need help, they’re going to come. We definitely work as one team.

So the more agencies that get on FirstNet, the better off all we’ll all be.

Regardless of whether we’re working with another local agency, a state agency, or federal agency, FirstNet will help ensure that we can talk to each other. It’s going to help ensure our officers can see each other on the computer system. And that when we need to call another agency for mutual aid support, that they’ll be there.

Chief Joseph Salvaggio took over as Police Chief for the City of Leon Valley Police Department in September of 2016. Prior to this position, he worked with the City of San Antonio Police Department, retiring in October 2016 with the rank of Captain. Assignments included Patrol, Special Weapons and Tactics, Narcotics, Property Crimes, Gang Unit, Tactical Response Unit, Problem Oriented Policing Unit, and culminating as the Commander of the Airport Police Department. Chief Salvaggio is also a proud disabled veteran, serving over 29 years in the U.S. Army and Air Force and finishing his distinguished career as the Security Forces Career-Field Manager (IMA). Chief Salvaggio holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Excelsior College. He is a graduate of the PERF Senior Management Institute for Policing, FBI National Academy, FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development, Texas National Academy Command College, Senior Non-Commissioned Officer School, Texas Chief Development Academy, and holds instructor certifications in a number of police-related areas.