The New York Civil Liberties Union today expressed shock and concern at reports that the New York City Police Department stopped and frisked more than 500,000 people last year -- a fivefold increase from the number of "stop-and-frisks" it conducted in 2002, the last full year for which data is available -- and that blacks were five times more likely to be searched than whites.

The data was released by the New York City Police Department yesterday after months of pressure from the NYCLU and the New York City Council. The NYCLU will continue to put pressure on the Department to release a remaining backlog of stop-and-frisk data, comprising numbers from 2004, 2005, and part of 2003.

"It's about time the NYPD released this information," said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU Executive Director. "Since the shooting of Amadou Diallo, the Department has been required by law to turn over information about who its officers are stopping on the street -- and it has been ignoring that obligation since 2003."

The 2006 data, released yesterday, shows that Blacks and Latinos comprised more than 80% of those searched.

For months the NYCLU has been putting pressure on the NYPD to comply with the law by releasing the data, arguing that the Department must provide the public with accurate information so that there can be a full and fair assessment of the role of race in policing.

"In 1998, stop-and-frisk data prompted the Attorney General to conclude that the NYPD was engaged in racial profiling under the Giuliani administration," Lieberman said. "Now, once again, we're seeing what appear to be massive racial disparities in the Department's stop-and-frisk practices. We need to analyze this data to determine whether the department is again engaging in racial profiling."

The data is consistent with the many anecdotal reports and individual complaints that the NYCLU has received in the past year, which indicate that police officers are using overly aggressive tactics in communities of color, including subjecting individuals to stops, frisks, and searches without any suspicion of wrongdoing.