JCPD works with Carfax to release accident reports

Jefferson City residents now have two options to get police crash reports, although they’ll pay more than twice as much online than getting them from the police station.

For about six months, the Jefferson City Police Department (JCPD) has had a contractual agreement with Carfax.

When this program was first announced, city officials said it would save citizens a trip to the police station, postage or a phone call by going to crashdocs.org to access crash reports every day at any time.

The department sells reports starting at $5, then the cost goes up depending on the length of the report and whether there are accompanying photos.

If a report reaches that much detail, the buyer is referred to the city clerk to file an open-records request.

The reports from Carfax are the same reports from the police department.

In the last three months the department has sold 397 reports at the lobby window, compared to 14 sold through Carfax.

Of those sold in the lobby:

• 177 were accident reports sold to insurance companies

• 69 were accident reports sold to citizens

• 151 were other types of reports, not accidents.

By agreement, Carfax pays the police department $5 for each report they sell. They add an administrative fee of $5.50, for a total charge of $10.50.

“What the police department is doing is providing a service to the citizens, guided by the Sunshine Laws,” Capt. Bob Cynova said. “The charge for the reports is based upon the time taken by a police information clerk to research, gather the information and provide it to the person at the window. The funds collected go to the general revenue fund, not directly to the police department.”

Police officials said Carfax collects fees from users and the city receives a check from the company to cover police department fees that the department would normally charge.

They also point out that Carfax is selling online accident reports they receive not only from JCPD, but several other Missouri law enforcement agencies.

JCPD scans accident reports into batch files, which are uploaded to Carfax daily.

If a consumer checks a vehicle identification number (VIN) through Carfax and there is an accident report, the consumer will be alerted and given the opportunity to purchase a PDF of the accident report from Carfax.

The reports are open under the state Sunshine Law, and the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office requires they be sold at reasonable fees.

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