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Fmr. Top Uniformed NYPD Officer Testifies In Stop-And-Frisk Trial As Activists Push For Change

Joseph Esposito, as NYPD Chief of Department, attending an event at One Police Plaza - July 13, 2011 (credit: Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)

Joseph Esposito, as NYPD Chief of Department, attending an event at One Police Plaza – July 13, 2011 (credit: Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - The former top uniformed officer for the NYPD took the stand Tuesday in the stop-and-frisk trial in Manhattan federal court.

Former Chief of Department Joseph Esposito was questioned by attorney Jonathan Moore about whether the police department has any program for tracking officers who may have a suspicious pattern of racial profiling in using stop-and-frisk tactics.

Esposito, who recently reached the mandatory retirement age, insisted there are many checks and balances, beginning with the supervisors, who must sign off on the forms the officers fill out stating whether there was reasonable suspicion for each stop.

If there was reasonable suspicion, said the chief, it can’t be racial profiling.

The plaintiff’s attorney then pointed out that stop-and-frisk numbers increased dramatically from 97,000 in 2002 to 685,000 in 2011, all on Esposito’s watch.

Esposito admitted the increase and pointed out the 40 percent decrease in crime, all on his watch.

Meanwhile, civil rights leaders, lawmakers and police reform advocates are pressing the New York City Council’s leader to push ahead to pass new rules reining in the police practice known as stop and frisk.

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said ending the NYPD’s extensive use of stop and frisk is a “national priority” for the civil rights organization.

Jealous spoke at a Manhattan rally Tuesday.

It comes three weeks after Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced she and advocates had reached an agreement on a related proposal: creating an inspector general for the Police Department. It hasn’t yet gone to a vote.

Advocates want to keep up momentum behind the stop-and-frisk proposals.

Among other things, they’d require officers to explain why they’re stopping people. They also would give people more latitude to sue over stops they consider to be the result of racial profiling.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)