The recording was played Thursday, the fourth day of a trial on a class-action lawsuit that covers stop-and-frisk inspections, The New York Times reported.
During a conversation, South Bronx Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack urged his subordinate, Pedro Serrano, to be more active and conduct more street stops.
McCormack told Serrano he needed to stop "the right people at the right time, the right location."
Serrano then asked McCormack what he meant by the "right people."
" The problem was, what, male blacks," Inspector McCormack said to Serrano. "And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem telling you this, male blacks 14 to 20, 21."
Civil rights lawyers have long said the term "right people" is code for young black and Hispanic men, the Times said.
Serrano, who is Hispanic, testified to supporting that claim. He said mandatory quotas encourage officers to stop people unlawfully, the Times reported.
McCormack is expected to be called as a witness later in the trial.