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IMPD scrubs Social Security numbers from old police reports after complaint

Posted at 5:30 AM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-10 08:32:50-05

INDIANAPOLIS — David Leeper needed a police report.

It involved an incident from 2001, when he was 18. Leeper, now 37, bought an online police report and was surprised it included his Social Security number.

"I believe this was an oversight — had to be an oversight for a social to be easily accessible like that," Leeper said. "I never want someone to easily access my info and utilize my credit. Worked really hard to improve it. I'd hate for someone to wreck it with a reckless shopping spree."

RTV6 asked Leeper not to post anything on social media about this problem, and we held reporting on the issue until it was fixed.

RTV6 contacted the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

“Within hours, there was no trace of those reports," IMPD chief of public safety communications Kevin Wethington said.

Nearly 3 million incident reports from the years 2000-2013 are no longer available on the portal as a precaution.

The ability to buy a police report is a convenience for the public. There are many reasons people may get one, including to file with an insurance claim, or to learn about the history of property before buying it, or to conduct an informal background check.

"2,948,000 police reports and, of those, we believe a small number contained any personally identifiable information," Wethington said. "That was ultimately available online, and we believe a smaller number were purchased online."

Metro Police believe this was an isolated issue, but to be safe, it has asked its vendor to review the reports for the years 2000-2013. It's unclear when those reports will show up again online.

"We have employed safeguards throughout the years to protect privacy and personal information of victims and people involved in incidents which we become involved with,” Wethington said.

In response to the police department actions, Leeper had four words, “That's wonderful, that's wonderful.”

Police reports from 2013 and forward were not pulled from the online portal and can still be purchased on the internet.

People needing a copy of an IMPD police report from 2000-2013, will need to drive to the City-County Building located at 50 N. Alabama St.

The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In order to get a police report, you are asked to be specific as possible with your request by providing date, time, location, type of incident and the names of the people involved.

If necessary, a member of the staff will redact the police report before handing it out.

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