While checking my referrer stats, I noticed someone find my blog by Googling “copy of police report Austin Texas”. This site pops up as one of the top responses to that search, probably due to my recent post about the criminal discovery process, both generally and here in Travis County. But the first site Google returns is the Austin Police Department’s FAQ page which purports to answer the question…

4. How do I purchase a police report?
For information about purchasing a copy of a police or accident report, contact that Austin Police Department Report Sales office at 974-5212. Reports can be purchased at either Police Headquarters in downtown Austin located at 715 E. 8th St; reports are available Monday through Friday between 7a.m. and 6 p.m. or you may purchase them from the North Substation locate at 12425 Lamplight Village Drive, reports are available Monday through Friday between 8 a. m. and 5 p. m.

Wait a minute, didn’t I just blog about the difficulties defense lawyers have in getting prosecutors in some counties to even allow them to read the police report, never mind getting a copy of them?

Well, here’s the answer, if you think there’s a conflict between APD’s FAQ page, and how things really work. Sure, they will take your money and hand over to you what they tell you is the police report, but it’s not…

It’s usually a two page document filled with information you already know or don’t care about, like the date of the arrest, the charges filed, the officer’s name, whether bias or family violence was involved, etc. etc.  Then there’s the section that gives detailed information about the defendant’s name, date of birth, driver’s license number, etc. etc.

But what about substance, the officer’s observations, any statements made? Well, I’m going to quote you exactly from one that I just took a look at:

On 8-25-06 at 0142 AM an arrest for DWI was made.

That’s it. It’s not a police report; it’s something called and actually titled a “press release”. You already know who you are, and what you were arrested for. Don’t waste your money giving it to A.P.D. for a so called copy of the police report.  Yes, there is such a thing as an offense report, which details all the officer’s observations and conclusions, but it’s not for sale.

I’ve had plenty of clients come into my office a few days after their arrest and announce to me that they already have the police report.  It always pains me to have to tell them that they have just wasted their time and money.