How can I look up a police report?

Updated April 17, 2017

Police reports are generally considered part of the public domain, but a simple Internet search won't bring up the report you're looking for. Where the report was filed is contingent upon how you can go about getting it. While some police departments allow you to request a copy of the report online, most require that you personally visit the police department or public records department and fill out a police report request.

Gather together information pertinent to the report. This includes the names of the people involved, the incident's report number and any addresses associated with the report. You may not be required to have all this information, but gather as much of it as you can.

Visit the county courthouse, police department or public records headquarters in the county where the report was filed. The exact location will depend upon how your state and county is organised. Call either the police department or courthouse to ask where these records are stored.

Talk to the clerk in whichever office you visit. The clerk will require you to fill out paperwork. You may also have to pay a small fee, usually around £1.90.

Pick up the police report in the provided period of time. Most requests take between 24 to 72 hours to process. If you arrive too early it may not be ready. If you wait too long, such as more than two weeks, the office may cancel the report request.

Check to see if the state and county you need a police report from offers online requests. Not all do. Visit and click on your state (see Resources). Choose the appropriate country or department from the provided list. If the county you're looking for isn't on the list then the county doesn't allow online filing.

Enter the appropriate information into the search box. This includes the report's number, the names of anybody involved or the date of the report. Some website require only one of these pieces of information. Others may require all of them.

Pay online or open the report. Some websites require you to pay online and pick up the report 24 to 72 hours later when it has been processed. Other websites allow you to open the report immediately without payment.

Pick up the report from the appropriate location, if necessary. If you didn't pay online, you may be required to pay upon pickup.


While police reports are part of the public domain, it's a good idea to have a reason for needing the report. Not having a reason could delay the request process.

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About the Author

Colby Stream has been a writer since 2007. His work has appeared in "The Arbiter," the student newspaper of Boise State University, as well as various websites. Stream graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in communication as a presidential civic leadership scholar.