How to Obtain a Police Report

Two Methods:Requesting a Police Report by Mail or OnlineRequesting a Police Report In Person

A police report is a document police officers create after an arrest, accident, or investigation. It explains what happened, details evidence, and provides witness statements and other details. Because these reports are often used in court appearances, settlements, and insurance investigations, having a copy might be very useful for you. Whether they ask you to submit your request in person, via mail, or online, all police departments will provide you with a copy of your police report.

Method 1
Requesting a Police Report by Mail or Online

  1. Image titled Obtain a Police Report Step 1
    Determine which law enforcement agency to request the report from. In general, you request a police report from the law enforcement agency for the city where the incident took place.
    • Find the contact information for the appropriate police department online.[1]
    • Depending on the jurisdiction, you may only be able to request the report if you were directly involved in the incident.
    • However, some areas allow anyone to file a report, including lawyers, agents, and family members.
  2. Image titled Obtain a Police Report Step 2
    Determine whether that city provides police reports by mail or online. Some cities ask you to request police reports in person at the police station. However, you might be working with a department that lets you file a request either by mail or on the internet.
    • Visit the website for department you're working with. Search for an online form or a downloadable pdf that you can mail back to them.
    • If you can't find what you're looking for, call the department and ask if they allow mailed requests.
  3. Image titled Obtain a Police Report Step 3
    Download Adobe Reader if necessary.[2] If your local police department allows you to download a copy of its police report request form, there's a good chance it will be a pdf. Although some computers come equipped with pdf-reading software, not all do.
    • Adobe Reader is a free product that will enable you to open, read, and print the form from your home computer.
  4. Image titled Obtain a Police Report Step 4
    Familiarize yourself with the form. Once you have it, read through the form to make sure you can provide all the information it asks for. Although the form may vary from city to city, there's a good chance it will ask for the following information[3]:
    • The names and address(es) of the parties/victim(s) involved
    • The date and location of the incident
    • The report or incident number, if available
    • An insurance policy number and/or claim number. Note: this is required only if the person requesting the report works for an insurance company
    • A release form from the victim, if an attorney is filing the request
    • The type of incident — was it a robbery, assault, automobile accident, etc.
    • Proof of relationship for parents of minor victims or the spouses/relatives of deceased victims
    • You can view a pdf of the San Francisco PD's request form to familiarize yourself with what documents of this sort look like.[4]
  5. Image titled Obtain a Police Report Step 5
    Fill the form out accurately. Double check all the information on the form before you submit it to the police department. Any little mistake might make it more difficult for the department to respond to your request. For example, make sure you don't swap two numbers in a report number or misspell the name of one of the involved parties.
  6. Image titled Obtain a Police Report Step 6
    Include an SASE if mailing the request. If you are submitting your form by mail, you should include an SASE — self-addressed, stamped envelope. This both puts the cost of the postage on your shoulders, and ensures that the department sends the police report to the right address.

Method 2
Requesting a Police Report In Person

  1. Image titled Obtain a Police Report Step 7
    Check the hours for police report requests. Some law enforcement agencies only entertain requests for police reports on certain days. Call the department you're working with or visit their website for that information.
    • For example, the City of San Diego Police Department only allows in-person requests on Wednesdays between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.[5]
  2. Image titled Obtain a Police Report Step 8
    Visit the appropriate law enforcement agency. Even if the department allows online or mailed requests, going in person will help the process move more quickly. While you're there, the officers can answer any questions you may have and provide further directions.
  3. Image titled Obtain a Police Report Step 9
    Locate the information desk or records division. Ask for directions to the desk that will to help you with your request. The officers there will provide you with paperwork to fill out, and also answer any questions you have about the process.
    • The request form will ask for contact information and identifying details about the incident.
    • See Method 1 above for a detailed list of information you may be required to provide.
    • You may have to provide a current photo ID to verify your identity and address before they can process the request. The officers might make a copy of your photo ID for their records.
    • The waiting period will depend on the individual police department you're working with. Usually, police reports take 1-5 days to be found, processed and copied, but ask the officers helping you for an estimate.
  4. Image titled Obtain a Police Report Step 10
    Pay the fee, if required. Not all law enforcement agencies have one, but the one you're working with might charge a fee for each report you request. This fee covers the department's cost in copying and handling the report.
    • The amount will vary from agency to agency. Call ahead to find out the cost so you bring enough money to the department.
  5. Image titled Obtain a Police Report Step 11
    Pick up the police report. The police department will contact you when your report is ready. If they asked you to provide a stamped, self-addressed envelope when you submitted the request, you'll just receive the report in the mail.
    • You may not receive your copy of the police report within the time frame the department provided. If that's the case, call them to ask about its status.


  • To expedite the request, bring as much information as possible to the police department, including names of those involved, date, time and location of the incident, and, if possible, the accident report number.
  • Depending on your needs, you may also be interested in checking out a website like This site will show you a map of your area with relevant crime data.
  • Depending on the circumstance, sometimes identifying information about the involved parties may be deleted or blacked out to protect privacy.

Things You'll Need

  • Report request form
  • Identification
  • Fee

Article Info

Categories: Dealing with Police Officers