Former NYPD Chief of Department and Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito was remembered during his funeral Mass on a snowy Tuesday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral as a devoted public servant dedicated to the city and his family.
Politicians and NYPD officials past and present trudged through the snow on 5th Avenue Jan. 16 to pay respect to a man who served the Big Apple during some of its darkest hours. Inside the massive house of worship, a photograph of Esposito stood next to a wreath reading, “Papa Joe.”
Described as a family man at heart and despite serving as a cop over four decades in the country’s largest police force and having the longest tenure as Chief of Department, he would apparently always make time for loved ones.
“He showed us how even in a 365, 24/7 job you could always carve time out, you had to carve out for family. Especially when your family needed you most,” NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Zachary Iscol told mourners.
Eve Esposito, Joseph Esposito’s daughter, shared that her father wasn’t just dedicated to his children, but also to his wife of more than half a century, Christine, who passed away in 2022. Talking to the city at large, Eve said that a piece of her father’s heart died with the loss of her mother.
“When my mom left us, when her heart gave out, my father lost his heart too,” Eve Esposito said. “Knowing that they are together again is one of the things that has gotten us through this very difficult week.”
Chief Esposito died on Jan. 8 at the age of 73 after a battle with brain cancer. His loved ones believe the affliction was connected to his efforts in responding to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In the 22 years since that day of infamy, hundreds of police officers and firefighters who worked in the rescue and recovery effort had died from cancer and other various illnesses they contracted from their efforts at the World Trade Center site.
Current Police Commissioner Edward Caban recalled that Esposito spent his final minutes in command as Chief of Department, in 2013, kneeling at the 9/11 Memorial reflecting pools.
“No doubt this experience as a cop and an investigator helped mold him into the ultimate cop’s cop,” Commissioner Caban said.
Mayor Eric Adams also spoke at the service, describing his longtime friend as a man who lived life to its fullest. Adams was joined in mourning by former Mayors Bill De Blasio and Rudy Giuliani, along with former Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell.
Following the memorial Mass, Esposito was laid to rest at Green-Wood Cemetery in his native Brooklyn.