As a bondsman, I get asked questions about how to find various types of information relating to the criminal justice system. These questions range from “The police impounded my car. How do I get it out?” to “How do I verify information on an inmate?” to “How do I find out if the neighborhood I may move into is safe?”. This can be referred to as Criminal Justice Public Information or Public Crime Data Access.
Because of the nature of the bail bonding business, I’ve come to know how to get this type of information. Most of it is online and extremely simple to use. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look.
This article presents this information, but note it applies to Virginia only. More specifically, it pertains to jurisdictions of Central Virginia; namely, City of Richmond and the counties of Henrico and Hanover. Chesterfield is omitted because they have no online crime data.
The Police Impounded My Car. How Do I Get It Out?
An often-asked question is how to get a car out of impound. As a general rule, call the police or sheriff from the locality of where was impounded. It is Virginia law that the tow truck companies inform the local or state police whenever they impound a vehicle. The second paragraph of Virginia Code §46.2-1231 states:
“Whenever a trespassing vehicle is removed or towed as permitted by this section, notice of this action shall forthwith be given by the tow truck operator to the State Police or the local law-enforcement agency of the jurisdiction from which the vehicle was towed.”
How do I find information on an inmate?
Depending on the jail the inmate is incarcerated, there are several different tools to locate an inmate. The statewide searches include Vinelink, the Virginia Department of Corrections Offender Locator, and Jail Tracker.
If the inmate is housed in either Henrico Regional Jail West or Henrico Regional Jail East, the Henrico County Sheriff maintains a very good inmate search tool for both of these Henrico-maintained jails.
There is a more thorough explanation, along with instructions, for how to locate an inmate in Virginia here.
How Safe is My Neighborhood?
Some local governments provide public access to their crime data. This is typically comprised of police service calls and arrest records.
Crime data for Henrico County is maintained on Henrico’s Police Department’s website. I found it to be relatively easy to understand. It basically requires entering in a date range and optional location and offense parameters. I recommended going through their Crime Data Getting Started Guide first.
Included in this crime data are Henrico’s Arrest Reports, where the number and types of arrests are listed. This is retrieved by a data range and offense category.
City of Richmond
The Richmond’s Police Department’s Crime Access Data website is also quite simple to use and provides quite thorough results. The search criteria is a date range, locality, and type of crime.
A result is returned displaying the number of incidents found. Clicking on the “details” button drills down to more specifics by categorizing them by crime type. Clicking on the “details” button again drills down further displaying details of that specific offense, which includes the locality, case disposition, and other miscellaneous information.
Also displayed in this detail are three other buttons on : Offense, Arrestee, and Vehicle. Clicking on any of these buttons with display further detail corresponding to the topic of the incident.
The crime data for Hanover County can be viewed Hanover County’s Sheriff’s website. Hanover provides two options for viewing their crime data.
The first is a crime mapping site. After clicking to accept the disclaimer, a map of Hanover County is displayed with color-coded dots indicting the reported criminal incidents. The crime data can be further specified by selecting a date range and crime type (i.e. embezzlement, arson, etc).
The other type are the arrest reports which shows the date, time, location, and offense. The format is a displayed listing which can be viewed.
I hope this was helpful. For any questions don’t hesitate to call us at 804-833-2785.