The inflammatory audio, originally posted by political podcaster Ben Dixon, got a boost from an unexpected quarter when President Donald Trump retweeted it - only to delete it shortly thereafter.
In the audio, reportedly from a 2015 speech in Colorado, Bloomberg also claims that "95%" of "murders and murderers and murder victims" are male minorities between the ages of 16 to 25. He acknowledged that the controversial policing policy disproportionately impacted minorities, but defended it as a necessary measure to combat crime in New York City.
Leaked audio of Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg calling for targeted police harassment of minorities, because 'that's where the real crime is, ' has gone viral with a boost from Trump. He said it's the best way to deter kids from carrying weapons because they won't want to get busted. "However, today I want you to know that I realise back then, I was wrong, and I'm sorry". "'We have to send police to those neighborhoods because that's where the criminals are, ' the phrase, 'We can Xerox copy every minority child in these neighborhoods, ' I think is a very demoralizing thing". Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. "And the way you get the guns out of the kids' hands is to throw them up against the walls and frisk them". "Yes, that's true. Why do we do it?"
But the comments gave Bloomberg's political rivals an opportunity to pounce.
Bloomberg has long struggled with the legacy of the "stop-and-frisk" policing policy he used as mayor of NY, which encouraged police to stop and search pedestrians and ensnared disproportionate numbers of blacks and Latinos.
But the poll also showed Bloomberg jump into third place and score the largest lead of any Democrat in a head-to-head matchup with President Trump.
Mr Trump backed "stop and frisk" before and after he became USA president in 2017.
Mr Bloomberg had long defended "stop and frisk" as an effective police tactic that saved lives, even after a federal judge in 2013 found it violated the rights of ethnic minorities.
But stop and frisk expanded dramatically on Bloomberg's watch, reaching a peak in 2011 when over 685,000 people were stopped, according to data from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Support for former Vice President Joe Biden's United States presidential bid has tumbled nationally following a lacklustre finish in last week's Iowa caucuses, while interest is surging among Democrats and independents for the upstart candidacy of billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg, according to a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll released yesterday.
How is the Bloomberg campaign doing?
Bloomberg has since distanced himself from the policy since launching his presidential campaign as part of a broader strategy aimed at appealing to minority voters.