How Do I Check the Status of a Police Report?

By Karina C. Hernandez - Updated April 28, 2017

Obtaining the status of a police report typically requires a phone call or an email to the police station, and in some cases an in-person visit. You might need to check status of a police report when the responding officer doesn't provide it at the site of the incident. A report comes in handy for insurance and legal purposes. For example, if you are in a car accident, you'll need an incident report so that an insurance company, attorney, or judge can determine who is at fault. Certain reports, such as those involving a juvenile, an arrest or fatality, might not be released online, and may need to be requested in person or via mail.

Online, by Phone, and in Person

Check the police department's website for information on obtaining police reports. The site will typically provide instructions on ordering a report, but may also provide a phone number or email address you can use to confirm whether your report is ready for pickup. The records unit or a report processing unit typically handles police report requests. This is the counter or office that you must visit in person or call to request status of a report.

Reasons for Police Report Delays

If you didn't get a police report or incident number at the site of your incident, it can make it difficult to check status. A station clerk or officer may be able to locate the status of your report with the date, time and location of the incident. Not having your report or incident number can also delay receipt of your report when requesting a copy. Sometimes police reports are delayed because the officer has yet to process the paperwork, or there is a mistake with the paperwork that must be corrected before generating a report.

Lack of Authorization

Some police departments will provide information on the status of a police report only to the people named in the report. They might otherwise require a retainer agreement from a lawyer requesting status or a notarized letter from the person named in the report, authorizing release of information or the report to a third party. You may also need to provide identification.

Traffic Collision Reports Available Online

LexisNexis, a commercial vendor, provides police reports for vehicular accidents within 24 hours after law enforcement generates the report. To search for your report, enter your state and jurisdiction, and any of the following:

  • Full name and date of incident
  • Full name and address
  • Report number

Not all police departments make their reports available through third-party vendors. The police department, rather than LexisNexis, sets the fee for the report, but you remit payment to LexisNexis.

About the Author

Karina C. Hernandez is a licensed real estate agent since 2004 in San Diego. She has written legal articles pertaining to housing and real estate for multiple internet channels over the past 10 years. She has a B.A. in English from UCLA.

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