KEY POINTS

  • In the 2005 recording, Bloomberg said that "95 percent" of murderers are identical
  • He acknowledged the racial aspect of stop and frisk, but said it was justified
  • After starting his campaign, Bloomberg apologized for stop and frisk while mayor

A newly surfaced audio recording reveals former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg defending his controversial “stop and frisk” policing policy in 2005.

After announcing his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bloomberg publicly apologized for the use of “stop and frisk” during his tenure as mayor between 2002 and 2013. While Bloomberg did not originally implement the practice, he did not work to end it as mayor. Instead, the practice drastically expanded under his mayoralship.

Despite his apology, the newly surfaced recording may cast some doubt on Bloomberg’s current views.

In the audio, recorded during an appearance at the Aspen Institute in 2005, the Associated Press reports that Bloomberg can be heard claiming that “95 percent” of murderers and their victims fit identical descriptions. “You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops,” Bloomberg said.

The then-mayor said that while he understood that increased policing in minority neighborhoods meant minorities being stopped and frisked more frequently, Bloomberg said it was justified because it is important to “get the guns out the kids’ hands” even if it means using the controversial tactic.

Stop and frisk, sometimes known as a Terry stop, is a controversial policy that has been widely used in New York City. The practice involves law enforcement stopping individuals in the street and searching their person based primarily on the officers’ own assessment of possible criminal activity. While the benefits of such a policy have been hotly debated, it has been frequently criticized for relying heavily on the officers’ own biases, and can often foster racially motivated policing behavior.

In the 2005 recording, Bloomberg can be heard arguing that stop and frisk had served as an effective deterrent. “And they say, ‘Oh, I don’t want that, I don’t wanna get caught.’ So they don’t bring the gun,” he said.

An adviser for former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, Symone Sanders, responded to the recording and told the Associated Press that Bloomberg’s remarks were “sad and despicable.”

Tim Murtagh, the campaign communications director for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, called the comments “racist” and “unacceptable,” and that they show “that his apology for stop and frisk was fake and was only designed to win him votes.” Trump has long supported the policy and has said that cities like Chicago would benefit from using the tactic.

Bloomberg is clearly well aware that his campaign would face serious hurdles to winning over minority support, made evident not only by his decision to publicly recant his support of stop and frisk but also the public acknowledgment of his own white privilege.

Michael Bloomberg Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg addresses the audience next to billionaire Carlos Slim (not pictured) during a forum in Mexico City, Mexico, Dec. 1, 2016. Photo: Reuters