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De Blasio names NYPD vet Joseph Esposito to head OEM

Joseph Esposito, former Chief of Department of the

Joseph Esposito, former Chief of Department of the NYPD, was expected to be named commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management. Photo Credit: Mayor's Office/Edward Reed

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday named the NYPD's onetime highest-ranking uniformed officer to be the city's top disaster manager.

Joseph Esposito, who retired last year from the NYPD after more than four decades on the force, was appointed commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management. He succeeds Joseph Bruno, a holdover from Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration, who announced his resignation two weeks ago.

Referring to the appointee by the nickname "Espo," de Blasio boasted that the ex-cop already has yearslong relationships with many of the city agencies that he will coordinate for disaster-response efforts.

"This is a guy who's walked through fire," de Blasio said of Esposito's rise from Brooklyn street cop to his command role in the aftermath of 9/11.

For his part, Esposito thanked God for guidance, then de Blasio -- "a close second to God is the mayor" -- adding: "I know where my bread is buttered."

Esposito left the NYPD at age 63 because he reached the mandatory retirement age for uniformed personnel. He was chief of department under former Commissioner Ray Kelly for a dozen years.

Esposito will now coordinate the city's response to disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, explosions and terrorist attacks.

At the NYPD, Esposito was a staunch defender of how the department carried out the controversial stop-and-frisk practice, which de Blasio opposed as racially discriminatory in his campaign for mayor.

De Blasio Friday said Esposito's position on the issue did not influence the appointment.

"Look, we're talking about OEM," he said. "We're talking about who can help us to be ready for disasters and other challenges we face."

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