How can I verify whether somebody is detained by the NYPD?
June 4, 2016 7:27 AM   Subscribe

Asking for fiction: If one wants to know if somebody unrelated to them (a friend) has been picked up by the NYPD, what is the procedure? Or is that information protected?

Asking for fiction, no living actual arrested people involved.

posted by angrycat to Law & Government (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: They have an inmate search. I have never used theirs but in my experience with Sacramento PD it is updated very quickly. As in, you can't find your buddy the next morning and look them up on there and find out they have been arrested. Allegedly.
posted by sacrifix at 7:38 AM on June 4, 2016

Best answer: I don't think the inmate search is going to do it. That's a NYC Department of Corrections search, so your friend would've had to have seen a judge and had bail set and transferred into DOC custody already. I was last a lawyer in NYC in 2012, so I don't know if anything has changed, but the only thing I could think of is calling the precinct.
posted by IdRatherNotSay at 7:58 AM on June 4, 2016

Best answer: As sacrifix, I have no experience with NYPD. But in Seattle you're only held for 4-6 hours at the most in one of the the precincts, and then transferred to the King County Jail (that's before the suspect goes before a judge). That register is updated immediately, so you can usually find people very fast after the arrest (4-6 hours, that is).

As far as I know, though, you can't just call the police and ask if someone has been arrested, but I've never tried. You could probably call the NYPD non-emergency number and ask them your question (that is, "Can you tell me whether someone's been arrested before they are booked into jail?").
posted by Gorgik at 11:28 AM on June 4, 2016

Best answer: Actually, you can just call 311 and they will tell you if someone has been arrested in NYC in the last 24-48 hours (meaning it's possible they won't turn up in the system until 24 hours after the arrest). The only problem with using this for fiction is that, if I didn't already know you could do this and I read it in a book, I'd probably assume the author was just making it up.
posted by layceepee at 11:30 AM on June 4, 2016

Best answer: Layceepee, not sure it's that ridonc. I just tried Googling "find out whether someone has been arrested," and the seventh link that came up was this page that says exactly what you said:
"You can call 311 to find someone who was arrested in the past 24 to 48 hours."
311 has been part of the fabric of New York City life (and life in other cities) for a long time. It's gotten a jabillion calls (158 million in its first 10 years of operation), and many other major cities have similar systems. So I think the idea of calling 311 if you were concerned someone you knew had gotten arrested would not strike a lot of (American) readers as far-fetched.

But of course, if the OP were concerned about this method appearing "too easy" to the reader, s/he could have the protagonist ... look it up on the Internet first. :)
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:12 PM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: THANKS EVERYBODY
posted by angrycat at 5:19 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

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