On the debate stage Wednesday night, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said he cut out "95 percent" of detainments under the stop-and-frisk policy once he found out it was disproportionately affecting black and Latino men.

Former secretary of Public Safety Andrea Cabral told Boston Public Radio on Thursday the policy only stopped when Bloomberg was federally mandated to do so.

"They were mandated to stop this program because it was unconstitutional and after throwing five million young men up against the wall, they found weapons one percent of the time," said Cabral.

Bloomberg, who served as mayor from 2002 to 2013 defended the policy as recently as 2015, when he said you could "Xerox" the description of murderers and "pass it out to all the cops." Only recently did Bloomberg begin to apologize for the policy itself, which was in place before he took office and increased throughout much of his tenure.

Cabral said his responses defending the practice over the years show a broad lack of empathy.

"If you substituted the word Jews for Black and Latino young men, in his quote, wouldn't it be immediately apparent to him that that was a horrific thing to say, that that was a deeply racist thing to say," she said. "What you're struck by often with Bloomberg is a lack of empathy and a lack of ability to apply to the things he cares about, the very ideas that he holds about others, and it's really fascinating."

Andrea Cabral is a former Suffolk County sheriff, former secretary of Public Safety, and current CEO of Ascend.