Nearly 35,000 people have landed in the Charleston Police Department’s field contact database since 2009. The spreadsheet is a deep repository of information on citizens of all ages who encountered officers but, in many cases, were not charged with crimes. What’s more, that information is kept indefinitely. In all, Charleston’s database contains close to 100,000 entries. More than a thousand people have at least a dozen appearances in Charleston’s massive spreadsheet, which contains Social Security numbers, dates of birth, physical descriptions and other personal information. Charleston police are hardly alone in this practice. Police in the neighboring city of North Charleston have added 51,533 entries in their field contact database since 2009. Police in the capital city of Columbia took note of the occupations of the people they were stopping as well. They ranged from brick masons and correctional officers to a pharmacist and a “professional hobo.” Collecting information and building intelligence is common practice for law enforcement agencies in South Carolina and across the country. But activists and civil libertarians worry that this mountain of data has the potential to skew police perceptions, spur harassment and unfairly label people who may have done nothing wrong. Read the full series here.

Read the full series here.