How To Become A Cop

Free Police Records: General Databases

While many online data files claim to have free police records, it is fairly rare to find more than the name, address and phone number files as free public records.  Some databases will offer a free trial subscription, or they will give free access once a nominal annual subscription price is paid.

There are some exceptions. One can search the Criminal Records Index at free of charge. This website includes the Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate locator, a database that checks the custody status of an offender, and crime files from about forty states.  The kinds of data collected and the ease of search depends on the state websites that are linked into the Criminal Records Index site.  Not every state is included.  Most local police and sheriff departments also give citizens free records regarding registered sex offenders.  Sometimes this is an online data file that includes the name, address and a photo of the convicted felon. Some departments will mail a notification to nearby neighbors when a convicted sex offender has moved into their neighborhood.   Sometimes the notification is limited to schools or daycare centers, but is offered free of charge.

Most police departments also include a “police statistics” or “police reports” page on their website where they give crime analytics for the community.  On the website, for cities that do reporting, the user can put in a specific address and find out information as to the number of crimes by type of crime and crime trends found in any given area.  Types of crimes that are reported include homicide, breaking and entering, robbery, theft, sex crimes, assault, property crime and quality of life crimes, such as disorderly conduct, drugs, and traffic misdemeanors.

Most states have central repositories of police records.  In order to contain costs, however, few states offer free police records.

The records from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations, for example, cost $13 for mailed responses and $15 for faxed results.


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