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Police Officers Receiving Instructions from Their Commander (media credit: © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons)

By JULIA JOHN-SCHEDER AND LORETTA CHIN

Self-published on April 11, 2013 and reported on WBCR Radio Sex and Politics show at 1090am.

A recently retired four-star police chief, who was the highest-ranking member of the New York City Police Department, parried questions about police practices in the continuing stop-and-frisk trial in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday.

Joseph J. Esposito, 63, served as chief of the department for the last twelve years, during which time the number of stop-and-frisks increased by 700 percent, from a low of about 97,000 in 2002 to a high of 685,000 in 2011.

Jonathan Moore, the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the landmark case, Floyd v. City of New York, questioned Esposito about whether racial profiling could be determined by looking at the UF250 form, which officers are required to fill out after a stop.  In Esposito’s 2008 disposition, he said that it couldn’t be figured out, but now said that he wasn’t sure.

When asked by Moore if the forms can be manipulated, Esposito said, “Yes, they can be,” but added that he looks at “the whole package” of the supervisors review and the forms together, and relies on the supervisors of the officers to ensure that the forms are filled out properly.

In addition to the UF250, an operation order in 2008 said that officers must chronologically report all their assignments into an activity log while on duty and they need to record accurate information.  Esposito gave his opinion that officers sometimes put in too much information or redundant information, which takes away time from answering radio calls.  “In a perfect world, this is a good operation, but we’re not in a perfect world,” and added,” They are supposed to be very accurate with the information.”

He said that UF250 individual forms were not reviewed; they were reviewed as a whole if they were of good quality, if they indicated when and where stops were conducted and if they matched the crime pattern of the area.

Moore asked why prior to 2002, police policy required officers to indicate in writing where they performed the stop and after 2002, the policy was changed to only have check-off points with no area for a narrative report.

Esposito said the reason was because it was easier to put the data into the database.  “They’re not filled out as completely as I would like,” he said.

The policy guide for officers states that if a frisk is conducted, an officer needs to write a detailed entry into his activity log.   Moore explained to Esposito that if officers just check off the UF250 and don’t have an activity log entry, it could indicate that officers are working to reach certain quotas and it could also indicate that there is racial profiling.

Esposito said that they now put more of an emphasis in filling out the activity log in a descriptive way, but didn’t think it was important because he personally relied on the supervisor’s review along with the UF250 for the 34,000 officers under his command.

Esposito acknowledged the massive jump in the numbers of stop-and-frisks during his watch, but defended the practice claiming that, at the same time, crime had dropped by 40 percent.

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