On Monday the recently retired highest-ranking uniformed officer of the NYPD testified at the federal trial weighing the constitutionality of stop-and-frisk, claiming that racial profiling wasn't so much as discussed at the upper echelons of the department. Yesterday, former Chief of Department Joseph Esposito explained to reporters outside the courthouse that stop-and-frisk isn't a big deal, because it happened to him.
After being asked how he would feel if his son was unjustly stopped (88% of all those stopped by the NYPD are released and presumed to be innocent), Esposito said, "My son was stopped, I was stopped. It's not like it just happens to people of color. I was stopped in the '70s, while I was a police officer I was stopped." In fact, 83% of those who are stopped are black or Latino.
"I don't think they stopped me because I am white, I think they stopped me because I had long hair, and I was acting suspiciously, I'm sure," Esposito said, before invoking the mantra of "proactive policing."
Again, I go back to the point of, how many crimes did we prevent? How many times did we make that criminal, perhaps, if it is a criminal, think twice and say you know what, I can't steal this car tonight, I'm gonna go home and go to sleep because the cops are on to me. That's the part that we can't measure, that's the untold story that doesn't get out very much.
And until Steven Speilberg's nightmare becomes reality, we may never really know.
Esposito's comments outside Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse may have been what he yearned to say during Monday's testimony, before Judge Shira Scheindlin interrupted his testimony several times during the proceedings, at one point telling him she didn't need to hear a "speech."
"The key to this whole thing is," Esposito began at one point, before Judge Scheindlin boomed "No no no, that's way beyond the scope of [the attorney's] question."
Read more of our coverage of the landmark trial, Floyd v. City of New York here.