A police incident report is a police agency's compiling of basic public information related to arrests, accidents or investigations made by law enforcement. It includes who was involved, what happened, and when and where the incident took place.
Police incident reports vary in length from one or two paragraphs to pages of charted information, which may also include specifics on suspects and victims, and a description and value of any property involved. It also might include narrative from the associated parties.
Most states consider police incident reports to be public information, but there are exceptions. A Pennsylvania judge ruled that state troopers' incident reports were not public because they included notes of interviews, fingerprints, and indicated whether a suspect could be named in the case, according to the Daily Local News, in Chester County.
Media outlets nationwide publish police incident reports to inform residents of criminal activity, incidents, and response of local law enforcement agencies within a readership area. The details made available vary and can appear as a list or as longer news briefs.
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