A police report is a written version of an officer’s interpretation of events after responding to a call or making an arrest. Police reports include arrest data, request for service calls, 911 transcripts, as well as information on the department’s response.

Police reports are stored at the police department for future reference. Police reports are typically accessible to the public, although some restrictions exist.

How Do I Obtain a Police Report?

Police reports are usually easy to acquire. To obtain a police report, first make a visit to the agency of the officer who made the report. If the agency is large, visit the records department. Ask the clerk on duty for a request for public records form. Fill out the form and await the department’s response. A request generally takes one to five days to process. Once the report is ready, you should receive a telephone call asking you to come back to the station to pick up your copy of the report.

What Do I Need to Acquire a Police Report?

You should have the following information to ensure you receive a police report as quickly as possible:

  • Valid Photo ID, such as Driver’s License
  • Names of all Parties Involved
  • Date of the Incident
  • Location of the Incident
  • Police Report ID Number
  • Payment for Processing Fee

How Much is the Processing Fee?

The amount required for the processing fee can vary from state to state, but it often depends on the number of pages in the report. The fee is used to cover the agency’s filing and copying expenses. Some agencies have a lower fee for crime victims requesting a copy of their police report.

Why Is the Police Report I Requested Inaccessible or Delayed?

Although Police reports are typically public information, there are certain restrictions on them. Police reports are divided into two categories: Public and Confidential.

Confidential reports are not accessible to the public. Police reports are usually confidential if the agency is still investigating the case or if the case has been transferred to the District Attorney’s office. If the investigation is complete and the prosecutor’s office declines to pursue charges, then the police report becomes public.

A police report on a juvenile offender can also be confidential, even if the case is complete or inactive.  In a few rare cases, agencies may deny requests for police reports if the agency believes the report may be used for unlawful activities, such as retaliation.

If you believe you are being unfairly denied your request for a report, ask to speak with the officer in charge of records.

I’m Trying to Get a Copy of a Police Report, Do I Need a Lawyer?

While you probably won’t need a lawyer to get a copy of a police report, you should contact a lawyer if you require any legal assistance. An experienced criminal lawyer can advise you of your rights and what remedies are available to you.