Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
Even the big city needs a sheriff, and New York has a new one. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has passed the honored badge to Edgar A. Domenech, a former deputy director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Domenech will be filing the shoes of Lindsay Eason, who is retiring after eight years on the job.
At Tuesday's announcement, things started with cliches, "There's a new sheriff in town," said Bloomberg adding, "No, this isn't a Gary Cooper movie." On a more serious note, the mayor explained that this sheriff is the city's chief civil law enforcement officer and "he is vitally important to the safety and well being of New York."
Domenech's duties will include evictions, enforcing protection orders in domestic violence cases and helping recover delinquent child support payments. The position is not with the NYPD, but is part of the city's Finance Department. The Sheriff is also responsible for cracking down on illegal cigarette sales and overseeing the towed cars and unpaid parking tickets on Staten Island.
Domenech has 25 years of law enforcement experience with ATF in Washington, D.C. He oversaw 5,000 employees in 400 field offices with a budget of $1 billion.
In 2008, Domenech filed a complaint with Justice Department against the ATF, citing mismanagement within the agency. Asked about how those events effected his view of government, Domenech said, "I was a whistle blower, and I take that responsibility serious[ly] because I believe, as a government servant, and as the sheriff, my responsibility is to mayor and the taxpayers of the city of New York."
Domenech said as the city's Sheriff he plans to "take any action that I deem appropriate regarding any illegal activities."
The New York City Office of the Sheriff has 174 employees, including 118 deputy sheriffs, and a budget of $16 million.