How to Access Police Reports in New Jersey

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In the state of New Jersey, an individual can get police reports from the records office at the city or borough police department, the county sheriff’s office or through the mail. The person requesting the report must show identification. They are required to give the report number or know the date on which the report was taken. There may be a fee for police reports, which varies among local government entities.

Fees for Police Reports

The fee for a police report varies by the location, type of report and whether the report is requested at the service window of the city’s records office or through the mail. In Trenton, for example, fees for police investigative reports requested at the service window are:

  • 75 cents for pages 1 through 10.
  • 50 cents for pages 11 through 20.
  • 25 cents for pages after 20.

The fee for motor vehicle accident reports requested at the service window is:

  • 50 cents for pages 1 through 10.
  • 10 cents for page 11 through 20.
  • 10 cents for pages after 20.

There is a flat $5 fee for an investigative report or a motor vehicle accident report requested by mail. A request for a report through the mail can be accepted only from the person named in the report, their attorney or their insurer. The person requesting the report should include a cashier’s check for $5.

Time to Receive Police Records

A police report is generally available within three to five business days after the incident. A person should call beforehand to confirm that the report is available. A jurisdiction may require a person to complete a report request form.

Police Reports Are Public Records

Generally, police reports are public records under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA). Exemptions to OPRA include:

  • Records that would violate a citizen’s reasonable expectation of privacy.
  • Inter-agency material, such as communications between a police department and a sheriff’s office.
  • Copy of an image of a deceased person.
  • Victim’s records, except a victim of a crime shall have access to their own records.
  • Emergency or security information or procedures for any buildings or facility which, if disclosed, would jeopardize the security of the building or facility or people inside.

Victims of a crime are able to get a police report or information from a police report that pertains to the crime committed against them. The defendant or their attorney will be able to get the police report under the Brady rule. The Brady rule requires prosecutors to provide evidence in the government’s possession that is materially exculpatory, meaning it shows that the defendant is not at fault.

Vehicle Crash Reports Online

The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) and New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) accept online requests for crash reports. A crash report is retained for six years from the date of the crash.

For fatal crashes that occur on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, the NJTR-1 report can be obtained only by filling out the OPRA form on the NJTA website. Types of reports that can be requested from the state police and NJTA include:

  • Non-toll road crash reports.
  • New Jersey Turnpike crash reports.
  • Garden State Parkway crash reports.
  • Boat crash reports.
  • Records requests for serious/fatal crashes.

Boat crash reports and records requests for serious/fatal crashes are sent through email to the requesting party after processing.

Filing a Police Report

An individual should read the rules of the records bureau prior to filing a police report. Often there are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) in the rules. For example, the Township of Plainsboro provides that using the online citizen police reporting system requires that:

  • The incident must have occurred in the township.
  • The incident must not be an emergency.
  • The incident is not a crime in progress.
  • The incident does not require immediate police involvement.
  • There are no known suspects.
  • There are no injured persons.

The incident must fit into certain categories, which include lost property, damaged property, theft, identity theft, criminal mischief (vandalism) or a traffic complaint.