Joseph Esposito, who retired as chief of department of the NYPD last month, took the stand Tuesday and said the term "racial profiling" was never used when discussing stop-and-frisk and that the use of the tactic helped reduce crime during his 12 year tenure as chief. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
He was one of the most powerful men in the NYPD up until just last month.
Recently retired Chief Of Department Joseph Esposito testified in the stop-and-frisk trial that his officers used the police strategy to keep New Yorkers safe from crime.
When pressed about whether stop-and-frisk targeted blacks and Latinos, Esposito said, "if you have reasonable suspicion, you don't have racial profiling. It is simple as that."
Of those that have been stopped-and-frisked, 88 percent have been black or Latino.
Attorneys for those suing over the policy pointed to records showing the number of stop-and-frisks jumped from 97,000 to nearly 700,000 on Esposito's watch.
"This is all about numbers," said plaintiffs' attorney Jonathan Moore. "It's not about looking at whether there is reasonable suspicion or racial profiling. It's just not discussed. It's not on the radar of this city and that's why this case is so important."
When asked if he ever discussed issues of racial profiling with other supervisors, Esposito said, "I don't know if I used the term racial profiling, but we do talk about lawful stops."
"I don't have to use the words racial profiling to address it," he added.
"They assess how effective they are based on the number of arrests they do, the number of stops they do, the number of tickets they write," Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights said. "But at the same time they are not assessing whether each of those arrests or tickets or stops are legal and constitutional."
At times Esposito tried to explain an issue far beyond what Judge Shira Scheindlin said was the scope of a question,
"It is turning into a narrative, in other words a speech, and I'm not here for that," the judge told Esposito at one point.
Later Esposito tried speaking when there wasn't a question.
"I am just on my pedestal," he said.
The judge laughed saying, "you can do that outside the building."
Esposito told the court that crime dropped 40 percent during his 12 years as chief of department and stop-and-frisk has been important in achieving that reduction.