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Records For Sale: Crash Reports Online, But They Cost Twelve Bucks A Pop

InstatepoliceIndiana State Police crash reports are now available online, but they cost more than they used to. Critics, advocates explain in the South Bend Tribune:

"An Indiana State Police records outsourcing arrangement will continue to force Hoosiers to pay more for some crash reports, while giving them a more convenient way to get others.

"The convenience: Under the arrangement, Hoosiers since Jan. 1 have had two ways to buy crash reports from any local police agency in the state. For $12, they can buy a report from a private company by going online to www.BuyCrash.com. Or, for a lesser fee -- for instance, $5 in South Bend -- they can buy a report directly from their local police agency.

"The catch: Under that same arrangement, consumers can now buy Indiana State Police reports only from the private company, for the higher cost of $12 per copy.

"The privatization agreement behind the current arrangement is drawing both praise for the efficiency it's created and criticism for its impact on access to public records."

Well, at least they managed to find a real Indiana company to do the work.


How do we know this is really an Indiana company? Can't find any information on their website as to their location - could be in Asia for all we know.

If you're feeling brave, you can take my word for it.

Let's remember who paid for these records in the first place. This is just another case of the state whittling away at its already weak commitment to public access.

This issue was also covered in the Indy Star today. The rub here, which is not mentioned in either article, is that the bill (HEA 1274, authored by Rep. Ron Herrell), did not prevent the State Police from charging whatever they want.

The bill simply made the process open, requiring the ISP to publish a report every two years showing the costs of outsourcing reports vs. doing things in-house. Then, if a fee of more than $8 is justified, they'd simply have to institute it through the rulemaking process.

Not only is this antithetical to the spirit of the public records law, the system sucks. I've been trying to search for an accident report for 10 minutes and the damn page is still loading. I didn't think there was anything slower on this earth than a clerk looking for a report at a police station until the virtual clerk we're about to be stuck with.

NB: It just popped up. But it was a slow search.

Why so expensive? In online Indianapolis, it costs about $4 for property records info and about $8 for some other records. $12 seems kinda pricey!

I was wondering that, too.

I can get a civil court case summary and the judgment information from Marion County for a little over $10.

Isn't this just a scanned-in crash report?

$12 is pricey. And $10.20 goes to the private company.

This seems like another one of Mitch's schemes where the public pays more and the money ends up in the pockets of his supporters.

What good was the old system when it took 2 YEARS to get the info into the system ?

From the Star "Before the private company took over, there was a two-year backlog of entering reports into a comprehensive state database. The backlog has since been erased."

The new company got the backlogged cleared up and is current.

Holt and Sheets were working on this project long before Daniels took office.

Funny, it didn't cost nearly as much back then.

Holt/Sheets regained the contract after it was yanked away from them due to data quality issues. In order for the automation process to occur and minimize human error (garbage in/garbage out), additional hardware and software updates were needed so that law enforcement agencies could comply with an electronic form submission. The previous $3/report was not sufficient to provide for the amount of upgrading and expansion that was needed, especially once the new driver's license scanning is fully implemented.

Are you saying Holt and Sheets are not going to be making a profit off this, 2:19, because they had to foot the bill for the new equipment and software up front?

No, I didn't mean to imply that at all, as they obviously will profit from it as well; but it's a bit of both going on in this case. The original system was grossly outdated and certainly was 2 years behind, but the new database has been burdened with inconsistencies and errors due to the number of reports that were still being submitted on paper and then scanned in. Once the paper reports were scanned in, many of the errors that were flagged were not corrected, so the logical choice is to automate as much of the process as is feasible, which when you consider the number of law enforcement departments throughout the state, that is a staggering amount of hardware and Internet services that need funding, even if some neighboring departments share services.

Thanks for the clarification and the additional information.

I know the biggest issue we had with the departments when I was at ICJI was the one you mentioned last: There were so many of them, and quite a few didn't even have e-mail, let alone sophisticated scanning and data transfer equipment.

Hell, some of the departments only had four or five people.

Hey Jen, I should have looked at the link earlier, but I just did and noticed that BuyCrash.com is actually owned and operated by Holt/Sheets themselves. Apparently they established a separate entity to handle the selling of the crash reports from the same system they created for ISP for police officers to submit (which also explains why the old electronic Vehicle Crash Records System was redubbed ARIES--Automated Reporting Information Exchange System, since they are now using VCRS for the crash report sales operation). So clearly, Holt/Sheets has a rather large vested interest in crash reports being acquired in this fashion as it directly impacts their bottom line, but I'm sure there is no conflict of interest in their having control over both the input and output of the entire crash database.....

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