Thursday, June 26, 2014

By Ben Kingsley

Residents of North Carolina have the right to access North Carolina police records as these are considered "public records". Public records as defined in the State's General Statutes means any documents including papers, books, films, photographs, electronic records and other materials that agencies of the government come in contact with in its dealing with the public (NC Gen. Statutes 132-1). All public records are the people's property; hence, the public can obtain any record including police records for free or with minimal cost.

Though government records are accessible anytime, some records are restricted due to the nature of the case. Such restrictions include records of criminal nature, intelligence reports, 911 emergency responses, as well as reports that include sensitive images such as autopsies (though some of the case report might be available for public use). These exemptions and others are further discussed in the General Statute.

For people who would like to request a report, three types of report are available from the police department - traffic or crash report, incident or crime report and non-emergency reports. All of the reports are free as indicated in the Statute; however, it also allows the cities to charge a minimal fee for the cost of the record copy to be released.

The city of Asheville, for example, allows researchers access to their police records during working hours. The department would also send the records requested if the researcher sends in a self-addressed stamped envelope together with their request. This is not the case with the City of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Researchers can visit the Record Division in the East Trade Street and check out the records; however, they do charge a $3.50 fee for online requests. The fee is good for one record, which will be delivered in PDF format.

Requesting for the record is made through several means though almost all of the requests are taken care of by the Records Division of the City's Police Department. One can fax in their request, make a phone call, email or walk in personally during working hours. Requests made through online or fax should be specific, as the law does not specify how long it would take to grant the request; being specific and direct makes it easier for the agency to provide the needed records. Walk-ins can check the resources that they requested and ask for a copy of the documents in the format that they prefer.

The department might turn down police reports request if the records are included in the exemptions as indicated in the Stature. If this happens, the fastest and convenient way to ask is through making an online request. More often than not, there is some information that is not included in the exemptions and available for the public.

About the Author:

Police Records are very useful in their own way. Find out how to make the best use of Police Reports Online.. Free reprint available from:Get The Latest And Updated Information On Police Records North Carolina.

1 comment: