Q:

How do you access police reports?

A:

Quick Answer

The most reliable way to access police reports is to visit a police station in person or call on the phone and request the reports directly. It's generally necessary to have either the case number or the full name of at least one person involved in the case.

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Full Answer

Some police departments also allow individuals to submit an online request for a police report. The departments' websites typically detail specific policies and options. Most police departments charge a small fee for providing a copy of the report. Individuals who request a report online or by phone often must give a mailing address, because most police departments do not provide records by fax or email.

Most police reports are publicly available, but some may be restricted for privacy or legal reasons. For example, reports involving minors may not be provided except to the parties directly involved. Police departments may also refuse to release information on criminal cases that are still under investigation. This prevents the accidental release of sensitive information that could make it difficult for authorities to build a case against the suspect. Very old records also may not be available due to lost or archived paperwork. If the police department refuses to release records you think should be available, most states have a public records act that may provide additional recourse.

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