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Secret Recordings Heard In Stop-And-Frisk Trial

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The federal trial challenging the New York City Police Department's use of stop-and-frisk continued Tuesday with the playback of secretly recorded audio tapes from a Brooklyn station house.

In the 2008-2009 recordings, voices are heard telling officers of Brooklyn's 81st Precinct to get out and make the numbers, meaning they should ramp up arrests, write tickets and conduct stop-and-frisk searches.

The recordings also featured the voices of bosses who said higher-ups in the NYPD wanted activity so they could get out there and make arrests in order to get department brass off their backs.

At the same time, the recordings featured exchanges between officers talking about the need to address street crime and a number of high profile shootings in the precinct.

Deputy Inspector Stephen Mauriello took the stand and told the court there aren't any quotas in the NYPD when it comes to stop-and-frisk, arrests and summonses, but alleged secret recordings of various bosses from the 81st precinct in Brooklyn, where Mauriello used to be the commanding officer, suggests something different.

"He wants at least three seat belts, one cellphone and 11 others," said a speaker on one of the recordings. "I don't know what the number is, but that is what he wants."

Lawyers for people who say they have been illegally stopped argued that beat officers are pressured into making illegal stops to make their superiors look good to higher ups at 1 Police Plaza, and they say that leads to racial profiling and insensitivity.

"Nobody says you should not go out a look for the criminals and looking for the people doing the shootings, but what is reflected in those tapes is an attitude the community that generalizes the whole community in a way that's really all about racial stereotyping and racial profiling," said Jonathan Moore, an attorney for plaintiffs in the case.

"If you get too big of a crowd there, they are going to get out of control and they are going to think they own the block," a speaker on one of the recordings said. "We own the block. They don't own the block. They might live there, but we own the block. We own the streets here."

But Deputy Inspector Mauriello said officers were talking about criminals and gang members in that recording, not law abiding citizens.

Some of the recordings do suggest NYPD bosses wanted to make sure police were doing their jobs and not just hanging out in police cars.

"There is a large percentage of the community that deserves to be able to go out to the store without a bunch of perps robbing them," said a speaker on one of the recordings.

During Tuesday's testimony, Judge Shira Scheindlin got a bit upset, telling all of the lawyers involved that she didn't want this trial to go on for two months. She wants them to pick up the pace.

The case started on March 18. Closing arguments are scheduled for around May 10.

Meanwhile, families that lost loved ones to police violence and opponents of racial profiling gathered outside the courthouse to demand an end to the stop-and-frisk policy.

"I stand here today as one of the mothers who lost two family members: my nephew and my son," said Margarita Rosario of Parents Against Police Brutality.

"The cop said, 'Oh no, he wasn't doing anything,'" said Juanita Young, a police brutality activist. "So just by getting him to stop, and was able to come up on him, and the next thing you know, now I'm without a son. So they used the stop-and-frisk as an excuse."

The trial is now in its third week, and the judge told lawyers Tuesday to speed up proceedings because she does not want the case to last two months.

On Monday, the case caused a war of words between Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and State Senator Eric Adams, after the senator suggested that the NYPD uses stop-and-frisk to intimidate black and Latino men.

Adams, a former police captain who is running for Brooklyn borough president, testified Monday that he heard Kelly talk in 2010 about how to use stop-and-frisk on certain ethnic groups.

Kelly adamantly denies ever making those statements.

Lawyers for the city referred to an affidavit where Kelly denied the NYPD targets certain people.

However, the judge would not allow the affidavit to be read because Kelly is not scheduled to testify.

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