STOP AND FRISK TRIALS: NYPD's Joseph Esposito's Pinocchio Testimony

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As the important Stop-and-Frisk Floyd v. City of New York City case continues, so do the lies that keep coming from the mouths of New York Police Department (NYPD) superiors and those who craft and implement police policy.

Given the fact that NYPD lies—regarding Stop-and-Frisk, quotas and racial profiling—is now being completely exposed, the question is: will the NYPD ever come clean and tell the truth about their targeting of communities of color for criminalization and victimization?

Last week, retired NYPD Police Chief Joseph Esposito testified in the federal class-action Floyd Trial, saying that Stop-and-Frisk isn’t a form of racial profiling. Mr. Esposito claimed he couldn’t recall if he and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly had spoken about the fact that Stop-and-Frisk numbers seem to suggest a disproportionate amount of Blacks and Latinos were being stopped by NYPD.

He claimed he never received a single complaint from anyone about Stop-and-Frisk or racial profiling. The police chief retired a few weeks ago after some four decades on the force.

“We don’t get complaints about it," Esposito said of Stop-and-Frisk. “I have not had anyone come to me and complain, I was stopped because of my skin color.” Mr. Esposito’s absurd denial, that he never heard complaints from people in the community regarding race, prompted no- nonsense Judge Shira A. Scheindlin to ask the retired police chief a series of probing questions.

“You said you don’t get complaints? You never heard a complaint from any community about that?" asked Judge Scheindlin.

Mr. Esposito then said he only heard about such complaints of racial profiling from groups like the New York Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Judge Scheindlin pressed him asking if he never got complaints brought by people in the “housing projects” from “resident groups” from “community organizations” or from “neighborhood associations.”

The judge seemed especially incredulous when she said “You never heard them complain that it was racial? Not a single stop. 'Our kids are being stopped.' You’ve never heard that from any community group?”

Chief Esposito maintained he only heard complaints about racism from elected officials and groups like Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network—but never from any Black or Latino in the community. He stated: "The complaint we get on the street is that, I don't know why I was stopped. The officer was rude when he stopped me.”

When will the NYPD stop lying? Judge Scheindlin probably knows deep in her heart that Chief Esposito committed perjured testimony in her courtroom.

According to Chief Esposito he was a police officer for nearly 45 years. But, somehow he says he never heard any person of color complain about racial profiling and the like. This claim simply defies probability, especially, since the chief admitted in earlier testimony to remembering that there was significant friction between the NYPD and Blacks and Latinos in the aftermath of the 41 shot police execution of African immigrant Amadou Diallo.

Ironically, it was around this time that Officer Esposito became Chief Esposito. Yet he would have us believe he heard not one solitary word from any Black, or, Latino person about racial profiling. He adamantly stated that he didn’t believe that Stop-and-Frisk figures illustrated a pattern of racial profiling. Yet when questioned about the basis for street stops one of the reasons he stated was this “It’s based on the totality of, okay, who is committing the-- Well who is doing the shootings? Well it’s young men of color in their late teens, early 20’s.”

Even after this statement, Chief Esposito would have us believe the NYPD doesn’t engage in racially profiling those it believes does the most shootings. Study after study has shown that police—and many in the larger society—perceive Blacks and Latinos as the primary perpetrators of criminality. This coloring of criminality, as those with Black faces, contributes to the warped view American society has of people of color.

It’s not hard to figure out why Chief Esposito would lie.

After all, he was the highest-ranking officer for the past decade and the rampant racism  evident in so many NYPD statistics—like those in Stop-and Frisk—is as much a part of Chief’ Esposito’s legacy as it is of Commissioner Kelly's or Mayor Bloomberg's. If he admits racism is widespread in the NYPD it tarnishes his term as chief in the history books.

During his testimony, Chief Esposito stated the NYPD has performance goals not quotas. Even more mendaciously he said about “ten percent” of cops were “malcontents” who engage in “self-imposed” quotas.

How can this police chief say such a thing after the tapes recordings provided by Officer Pedro Serrano and Officer Adhyl Polanco document otherwise? The tape recorded evidence seems irrefutable and by themselves show another seedy side of the NYPD: a police department that is using summonses and tickets to further impoverish cash-strapped communities. Is this evidence of a policy to balance the budget on the backs of Blacks?

Mr. Esposito talks of “self-imposed” quotas. Why would any officer engage in “self-imposed” quotas? For what possible benefit?

The chief also testified about the good officers “that will work as hard as they can, whenever they can, no matter how bad we treat them.” This sounds like admittance that NYPD brass engages in psychological abuse of officers. What is that about? Is that part of NYPD training? Should we then be surprised when that brutish abuse is mirrored in police policy toward those deemed to be “criminally inclined?”

Chief Esposito is a primary example of what’s wrong with the NYPD, which claims to be there “to protect and serve.” When officers have someone like him as a role model is it any wonder so many NYPD cops are insensitive to the concerns of communities of color? In earlier testimony, Mr. Esposito was asked about two reports having to do with NYPD practices with respect to racial profiling and policing in communities of color. One report was done by the Rand Corporation another by the New York Attorney General.

Chief Esposito said he never read the report from the attorney general. Moreover he said he couldn’t remember any conversation of any substance—between members of the NYPD, or, between the attorney general’s office and the NYPD—regarding the attorney general’s report.

Apparently, one of the things the attorney general’s report recommended was increased cooperation with the NYPD, presumably, to deal with problems such as Stop-and-Frisk and racial profiling.

Interestingly enough, although, Chief Esposito remembers nothing about the attorney general’s report he did remember the report done by the RAND Corporation—a report that was requested by the NYPD. The RAND Corporation is known for their connections to the American military apparatus. How could this police chief so cavalierly disregard the report and suggestions of the attorney general?

The more this case continues the worst the NYPD looks. To have the police chief take the stand—swearing an oath “to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth”—while, apparently, lying through his teeth makes the NYPD hierarchy look even less trustworthy.

This trial has been an unmitigated disaster for the NYPD, Commissioner Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg. The evidence seems damningly clear that they are liars and victimizers of New York City’s people of color.

   

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