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Are Police Records Available to the Public?

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Whether you’re a reporter tracking down details on the latest break-in in your community or a person simply making sure that the services or products from a local individual are legitimate, police records can be a helpful way to research a person’s past. Even employers and apartment complexes run background checks on prospective employees and tenants to ensure they’re making a deal with a trustworthy person with a clean record. But which records are available for public viewing? And how do you access police records? Here are some helpful notes if you’re interested in accessing police records as a member of the public.

How do police records work?

Though prosecutors are the ones responsible for charging people with crimes, police investigate crimes and make arrests, keeping records of these incidents. However, police officers use different types of reports and records to keep track of in their precincts. The records cover different types of crimes, from violent to nonviolent crimes and misdemeanors to felonies.

Records exist for mere incidents and arrests. These don’t always end up in charges from state or federal prosecutors. Incidents and arrests mean that police officers had enough of a reason to pursue an arrest and do some investigating. Because all reports are important, police will have these incidents on file. These documents can often be difficult to obtain, because they can involve open cases and lead to charges. A great way to circumvent this is to look out for the next type of record: logs of arrests and reports of an incident.

With this next type of record, you can easily log onto any city or town’s police site. Just go on Google and search “p2c” (police to citizen) along with the city or town where you live. You can easily search for logs that way.

The last type of record, which is typically easily accessed by the public, are search warrants and reports from the coroner’s office. These often indicate a reported crime that police are still investigating.

Where can you access records?

You can find quite a few ways to access police records, one of the first already having been listed above: searching for your local community’s p2c website online. However, if you can’t find the records you’re seeking on these sites, you have other ways to go about finding these reports.

You can make a request for a police report. This often entails downloading a form off of your local police department’s website and either emailing or mailing it in for submission. Once it’s been approved, the police will send you a copy of the report in the format you’ve requested (i.e., hard copy or electronic). Be sure you have all of the information you need to fill out the form; you can always print it out and fill it out in the police station if you need help from an office administrator.

Also, you can go down in person to request the form. If you’re a reporter, this may be the easiest way for you to get the information you’re seeking. Often, a fee will be charged for a report. If you have the funds to pay for that, you can. If you don’t, you can also ask to copy the document at the police station instead of taking the report with you.

Ways to get this information using social media

With the rise of social media and other internet platforms, many police stations are posting information on arrests and ongoing investigations online. For example, if you search Ocala mugshots, you’ll get a website for the mugshots of people in that area. Some police stations are going so far as to create Twitter pages for their mugshots, posting them daily along with arrest information.