Finding Public Information

By WdchenWdchen (1261423336|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Useful tools to help you find public information!

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Have YOU ever done anything that you wish you hadn't? Do you have something that you don't want people to know about? What does it really feel like to have someone constantly looking over your shoulder?

This is precisely what the internet has become. You are able to find so much information these days, and that includes finding information about other people too. A bit creepy, stalkerish…SCARY?? Possibly, but that's the reality of it today, especially with technology continually increasing every second that we speak.

Purpose

With a blog titled Finding Public Information, and an introduction like that, it's definitely no surprise what I'll be talking about. If you guessed how to find information regarding someone's past history, or more specifically, checking an individual's background, then you would be correct! The purpose of this blog is to discuss and figure out how to conduct searches using two tools: Public Record Finder and Criminal Searches. Please keep in mind, that I am not evaluating or comparing them whatsoever. I am simply taking these tools, which are new to me as well, and hoping to make some sort of sense out of them.

Special Agent Natasha, if you are reading this, then it's much appreciated. At least the time that I'm spending in figuring these tools out can be utilized by someone who can put them to good use. You're definitely at an advantage compared to when I first started because I certainly didn't have this nice and well put together wiki site to help guide me along.

I'll first begin with the Public Record Finder.

Public Record Finder

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Intro

When you first start at the homepage, you're given various options. You can:

  1. Conduct a search if you know an individual's first, middle, and/or last name and the state that he or she resides in
  2. Browse through various categories by state
    • Ex) Alabama's death records, court reports, divorce reports, …etc.
  3. Search based on the categories
    • Ex) Birth records, criminal locator, investigation tips, missing persons links, …etc.
  4. Conduct International searches (Special Agent Natasha, this one may not prove to be quite as much worth, obviously due to the fact that your job is primarily dealing with US crime and violence, but of course, it never hurts to gain extra information when it's already provided for you)
    • Ex) Info on Canada, South America, Europe, …etc.

Sample Searches

Here, I'll plan on walking you through sample steps on how to utilize this tool. Due to the fun of figuring things out on your own, and due to the lack of time, I'll cover two ways on how to explore this site, but please be aware, that this blog definitely does not do the Public Record Finder site any justice. I simply want to cover the site for your benefit in getting to know more about what it is, and leave you with the rest. Anyhow, let's get started shall we?

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For the mere fact that we are at the University of Michigan, I first conduct a search looking up information regarding statistics in Michigan. As you are made aware from the picture at right, the site definitely offers premium sites, in which more specific information is provided for a required fee, but featured below are many categories offered for free as well. For example, suppose you wanted to find information regarding the Michigan Department of Corrections. You could scroll down a little further on the page, and under the Michigan State Departments and Officials section, you would be able to find this link, that would take you to where you wanted. Continuing with the search, say you wanted to find information on Parr Highway Correctional Facility because I had told you that I volunteered there previously through a Sociology 389 Community Practicum course. You would be able to simply pull down a list, select the prison, and be guided to its informational page, finding out that it is a Level I Security Prison.

Furthermore, another method of searching can be started at the category titled Criminal Locator right off the Public Record Finder homepage. After doing so, you would be brought to a page with very many different links to resources that would help you with your criminal search. Listed below are 3 examples of such sites:

Because I found Crime Spider to be quite interesting, I'll talk a little about that, but before I start, in referring back to the Public Record Finder, you might already be getting the gist of it. Right off the bat, you can conduct an individual search to find more information about one's background, but you can also conduct categorical searches, as I have done in the first, and will demonstrate in this second one as well. Essentially, Public Record Finder connects you as the user, to multiple different informational/search sites, to provide you with a lot of useful information.

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Continuing with the Crime Spider search, we first take a look at its homepage. The homepage provides you with a lot of detail about what the site is about, from simply looking at it. You are able to select from a variety of categories, and as I've circled in red, it even acts as a method of keeping up-to-date with the news. This site can act as yet another site to keep you current with the constantly changing news.

Public Record Finder Conclusion

The Public Record Finder can be a resource that enables you to conduct the most basic search of finding an individual's background information, but more so, it ultimately connects you with an abundance of websites that allow you to find information that is relevant to you. So although you may find yourself spending more of your time on the linked resources off of the Public Record Finder, it's this site that acts as a hub for all of the information.

Criminal Searches

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Intro

Right as the homepage of Criminal Searches suggests, do you know who these people are: your babysitter, the janitor, school teacher, co-worker, or your gardener? These are people who you interact with on a daily basis, but do you REALLY know who they are?

As I mentioned before, the purpose of this blog is not to compare these two tools, but I will simply mention the fact that Criminal Searches is a relatively simpler tool to use as compared to Public Record Finder. Public Record Finder is a tool that has many more functions.

Sample Searches

Now, in going back to Criminal Searches, you will notice that as the homepage displays above, there really is one main function of the page, and that
is to conduct a person search to see if he or she has a criminal record. Of course, to simply resolve my curiosity, I first searched for my records. As predicted , none were found.

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However, say that you wanted to hire a baby sitter, and if you were just that cool to get Paris Hilton. You are already well aware of her previous driving record, but just wanted to double check her record just to make sure everything else checks out. Although this isn't the full comprehensive background check, you come to the conclusion that having Paris Hilton as a baby sitter would completely be sweet, and therefore find her in good graces, even though she may have this traffic offense and may very well have other violations.

Another way that you could quickly identify the safety of your neighborhood would be to conduct a sex offender search. Once again, because we are at the University of Michigan, I wanted to conduct a search in the Ann Arbor, MI area. From the area listed on the map, you are able to see that there are 3 sexual offenders nearby. These individuals could be lurking around who knows where, but it simply means that you should be aware and keep your kids aware. In order to protect your safety, knowing all of this information can help you to become more secure. Ultimately, there is no 100% efficient to make you safe all the time, but you can help eliminate some risk by being informed. This is the primary goal of Criminal Searches. They provide you with the information needed to help reduce your risk.

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These hopefully give you a provide you with a good understanding of the functions of Criminal Searches. I know that I did not explain it much in detail, but I believe I have given you the general idea and if you feel that this tool can be useful, then I at least have given you a little head start.

Criminal Searches Conclusion

As you can see from the homepage, this website can be used for multiple functions:

  1. Conducting a free criminal search
  2. Doing a neighborhood watch to see if your neighborhood is safe
  3. Finding sex offenders nearby
  4. Obtaing the latest crime alerts
  5. Understanding criminal statistics

Unlike the Public Record Finder, Criminal Searches is very focused on keeping you within their own site instead of providing links to others. Its searches are very detailed and it can be used as a simple tool in conducting a quick search. Once again Special Agent Natasha, I would recommend using this tool as a quick way to search an area or to look up someone else in a database. I'm sure that at your offices, you have highly sophisticated and confidential databases that you can scan through, but this hopefully gives you an idea of what is out on the web and how you can search for others.

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Conclusion

In terms of using the Public Record Finder and Criminal Searches, I would say that they serve different functions. The Public Record Finder is a tool that links many different pages regarding general public information, whereas Criminal Searches is a database that allows you to search directly for people's statistics. In reality, you can't really even begin to compare the two because they are just that different.

However, as tools for helping with a topic on crime and violence, I would definitely recommend them as sources of information. They help you find information in different, but useful ways!

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