NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The NYPD's highest-ranking and longest-serving uniformed member is retiring.
Chief of Department Joseph Esposito hung up his uniform Wednesday after 44 years of service.
Esposito joined the NYPD as a trainee in 1968.
Over the past four decades he has held every job in the department and has been chief for the last 12 and a half years.
NYPD's Highest-Ranking Officer Is Retiring
"This is the most professional agency in the world," Esposito said, adding that a lot has changed since his early days."We went from 'The Flintstones' to 'The Jetsons' -- that sums it up."
During his tenure, Esposito earned some of the NYPD's highest medals and commendations, including the Combat Cross and Medal for Valor.
"I'm so blessed that every day I get up and I'm going to a job that I love to do," Esposito said. "I haven't worked a day in 44 and a half years. Every day has been a pleasure coming to work."
He turns 63 on Thursday, the force's mandatory retirement age.
Replacing Esposito will be 26-year NYPD veteran Philip Banks III, who will be installed officially as Chief of Department on Thursday. He had most recently served as Chief of Community Affairs.
Banks, 50, began his career as a patrolman in the 81st Precinct, and rose through the ranks in the ensuing years.
"Phil Banks has proven himself time and again to be as outstanding a field commander, adept in managing police personnel and operations, as he has a consummate builder of community relations whose robust School Safety and Juvenile Justice Divisions, as well as New-Immigrant Outreach and Crime Prevention programs, flourished under his command." Commissioner Kelly said in a news release.
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