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Two High-Ranking Officers Testify In Week 7 Of Stop-And-Frisk Trial

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Two high-ranking officers who testified this week in the seventh week of the federal trial over the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk program spoke with
NY1 criminal justice Reporter Dean Meminger.

Assistant Chief William Morris has been commanding officer over all northern Manhattan precincts since 2010. That includes neighborhoods like Harlem and Washington Heights, where there's been lots of community concern about stop-and-frisk.

When asked what he tells his officers when it comes to stop, question and frisk by NY1, Morris said he tells them to "treat persons like you'd like yourself or a member of your family treated."

Chief Morris testified for the city in the federal trial brought over charges that stop-and-frisk boils down to racial profiling of young black and Latino men.

Attorneys for those people say they don't believe the chief told the complete truth.

"He's never gotten a complaint about racial profiling, he's never gotten a complaint of a suspicious stop-and-frisk in the three years he's been head of patrol borough Manhattan North," said Jonathan Moore, an attorney for a group suing the New York City Police Department. "It seems inconceivable."

Chief Morris said he continues to work to improve police community relations and fight crime.

"We regularly have meetings throughout the borough," he said. "And I again would recommend everybody to come to their monthly precinct community council meeting if they have any concerns regarding that. The door is always open. We're welcoming."

Inspector Juanita Holmes, the commanding officer of the 81st precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant, also testified for the city. She was put in charge there after allegations surfaced accusing the prior commander of instituting quotas for stop-and-frisk.

Holmes said she demands her officers only make legal stops and document them.

"I think I stressed in my testimony that I am a black woman, a black mother. I have a black son," she said. "So my agenda is not to go around and just, for no reason, stop young black males."

The federal trial for stop-and-frisk has been going on for nearly two months. It started on March 18. The judge has told both sides that she wants closing arguments to happen on May 20. Then, it will be up to the judge to decide if there should be changes made to the crime-fighting strategy.

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