Police Records: What are they and How to Find Them?Law enforcement agencies such as the police department in the United States compile different types of records while investigating crime cases. Such police records include
- Coroner’s office reports and search warrants. These police records can be typically accessible by the public for inspection
- Police responses to incidents and logs of arrests that can also be accessed usually by the public
- Incident and arrest reports that are typically not so easy to procure
What are the police reports?
Police followed by arresting people investigate crimes. However, the police department does not charge individuals with crimes. Instead, it is the prosecutors that file charges. For instance, it can be done by the office of the district attorney. Any court case only opens after an individual has been charged officially.
Thus, it is imperative to realize that police records are not a component of America's court system. Also, documents such as incident/crime reports or arrest reports are typically maintained at the police departments. These records generally are not open for the general public, unlike the court records are. So, you will hardly come across any online posting of police investigative records.
Major kinds of police reports
- Police officers primarily write two types of reports in the United States. These are incident or crime reports and arrest reports.
- Incident or crime report
- The report offers detailed information on responses made by cops when citizens call for help, as well as reports on criminal offenses being committed or reports of accidents.
Arrest reportsSuch reports contain detailed information on the police arrests.
Police reports that are available publiclyAlthough police records in the United States of America come within the scope of laws related to state public records, several kinds of police records are particularly exempted from public disclosure. The police department can also site certain general exemptions of the disclosure. For instance, they may claim that sharing data related to the release of a convicted may have a danger on someone else’s life or can have a detrimental effect on the investigation.
As such, the American police departments may widely differ in the way they respond to requests made by reporters and journalists when the latter asks for a copy of crime or arrest reports. There are some police departments in the country, which will provide such reports after editing sensitive information.
There are some police departments may share a majority of the reports except for certain pending cases, which are sensitive in nature. Some may even refuse to share any police reports. Check out the following websites for procuring police records:
- Oakland Police Department - http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/FAQ.aspx?QID=168
- The police department of San Francisco- http://sf-police.org/index.aspx?page=774#copy
- Richmond Police Department- http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/FAQ.aspx?QID=168
What are arrest warrants?
Very often, the cops may procure an arrest warrant, which a judge signs for apprehending an individual. There are different circumstances wherein arrest warrants can be used. It is used after a criminal investigation has been completed, police officers tracked a suspect and wish to go to a certain location to arrest that individual.
Any arrest warrant issued will typically include the name of the defendant, a description of the criminal offense, the bail amount, as well as, the court detail from where that warrant was issued. However, police agencies in the United States do not make public disclosure of arrest warrants.