Q:

How do you access police records in Wisconsin?

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Quick Answer

Members of the public can access police records in Wisconsin through the circuit court access portal run by the Wisconsin court system. The portal provides court record summaries for criminal, family, civil and probate cases.

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Full Answer

The state of Wisconsin governs public and government records through Chapter 19 of the state's statutes. Under the law, all members of the public have the right to access public records. People can obtain general public records by visiting the circuit court access portal and making simple case searches. The portal maintains police records for both criminal and civil cases.

The public can also access police records through the official websites of Wisconsin's cities. Interested parties can obtain arrest, investigatory and accident records through these websites. However, members of the public can only access special records, such as police tapes, closed investigation reports and confessions, by making special requests. Wisconsin statutes require people seeking special information to direct their requests to the department head who is the custodian of the records in question. In most cases, the custodian is the head of the police department in the city in which the infraction occurred.

Most states provide all information regarding arrests, court proceedings and criminal convictions. Journalists obtain this information easily from the police, courts and online sources. Other members of the public can also get the information by these means. However, the law only warrants police departments to disclose restricted records to law enforcement officers.

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