9 Best Law Enforcement Search Engines

Do research, check neighborhood safety, and report crimes

Police tape hangs before a crime scene. There are several types of crimes that are studied within sociology.

Ron Koeberer / Getty Images

A law enforcement search uses a highly specific search engine that checks everything from crime in a specific location to wanted criminals, general police information, law enforcement agency locations, and more.

The search engines below are unlike your typical web search engine like Google because they find crime statistics, crime scene investigation information, sex offender details, and lots more.

Every site listed below is 100 percent free because the information is available to the public.

01
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Family Watchdog

Family Watchdog home page
What We Like
  • Sends free notifications when offenders move in or out of your area.

  • Contains information on food and drug recalls.

  • Blog has topics to keep your family safe.

What We Don't Like
  • Map legend needs clearer explanations of the icons.

  • Must select icons one at a time to view the offender's photo and information.

  • Lots of ads that get in the way.

Family Watchdog is a sex offender search engine that works by letting you run a reverse search to find registered sex offenders in any area. You can search for sex offenders by location, name, or school/daycare.

If you make a free user account, you can be notified if a new sex offender is identified in your neighborhood. This can be useful if you're planning a move and want to make sure that the neighborhood you're thinking of moving to is safe, or to monitor offenders around your permanent home.

02
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National Sex Offender Public Website

National Sex Offender Public Website home page
What We Like
  • Registries for 50 states, D.C., five territories, and many Indian tribes.

  • The safety information for families on the Education & Protection web page.

  • No advertisements.

What We Don't Like
  • Each registry is maintained by its state, territory, or tribe.

  • Requests for changes or additional information must go through the affected registry.

The National Sex Offender Registry from the U.S. Department of Justice is another free service you can use to find sex offenders in your local area. According to the website, it's the only U.S. government site that links public state, territorial, and tribal sex offender registries in one website.

What's available here is a searchable database of sex offenders and statistics, and help for victims of sexual crimes. You can search for a sex offender with this search engine by name, location, ZIP code, or address.

03
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FBI.gov

FBI.gov home page
What We Like
  • Includes podcasts.

  • Information on fugitives, terrorists, kidnapped and missing persons, and crime statistics.

  • Seeks names or information on unidentified persons.

What We Don't Like
  • How and where to search for information is difficult to determine.

  • Designed to seek help from the public, rather than to serve as a search engine.

An enormous amount of information is available on the FBI.gov website, including crime statistics and law enforcement information, reports and publications, a Ten Most Wanted list, and information on how to become an FBI agent.

The site is home to a rotating set of featured stories regarding crime and law enforcement, crime statistics, victim assistance, warnings about current popular scams, criminal justice information services, and much more. This site is updated frequently, as FBI information tends to change often.

FBI.gov isn't just a law enforcement search engine and resource hub but also a way to help catch criminals. You can submit a tip to report threats and crime.

04
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Officer.com

Officer.com home page
What We Like
  • Headlines and forums are updated regularly.

  • A collection of current goings-on in the law enforcement communities.

What We Don't Like
  • Many advertisements.

  • Headlines link to stories on other sites; no original content.

  • Bare search engine options.

The Officer.com website is useful for law enforcement agency search, officer search, and crime sites search. Firearms information, tactical training, career information, and active forums are also available.

Much of the information is aimed at police officers, but it's also of potential interest to anyone who wants to learn more about the criminal justice system. 

05
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National Criminal Justice Reference Service

National Criminal Justice Reference Service home page
What We Like
  • Enormous collection of crime and law enforcement topics.

  • Hundreds of downloadable publications.

  • Email questions to a specialist.

What We Don't Like
  • So much information that it can be overwhelming.

The National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) is a free, federally funded organization and website that provides justice and drug-related information to support research, policy, and program development. 

Search through A-Z topics and learn about the courts, funding opportunities, and law enforcement. Many different organizations are represented here, including the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Juvenile Justice, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The advanced search engine on this site lets you refine the results by specific content types and can search for single words and whole phrases.

06
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FindLaw

FindLaw home page
What We Like
  • Search for lawyers by expertise and location.

  • Articles on current topics.

  • Library of podcasts and blogs.

  • Download legal forms.

What We Don't Like
  • Predominantly a legal marketing firm.

  • Law firms pay to be listed in the directory.

  • Search tool has no advanced options.

FindLaw is a legal directory search engine with consumer legal information, criminal law resources, and lots of other law enforcement topics. All sorts of legal topics, state law information, and help in finding a local attorney for any legal need you might have are also available here.

If you have a bit of legal research that you'd like to do, this is also a useful site. It doesn't substitute for advice from a licensed attorney, but it's good for getting started. 

07
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U.S. Department of Justice

U.S. Department of Justice home page
What We Like
  • Find seized property sales, locate inmates, identify missing persons, and report crimes.

  • Updated regularly.

What We Don't Like
  • Too much information that's difficult to navigate.

  • Lists job opening but not application requirements.

All sorts of interesting things are on the U.S. Department of Justice website including the option to report a crime, a way to find a job, links to inmate locators, help for crime victims, sales of seized property, and reports on waste and misconduct.

A few of the topics you'll find at the U.S. Department of Justice include How to Combat Terrorism, Uphold Civil Rights & Liberties, and End Violence Against Women.

You can sign up for email updates to keep track of the latest law and order news that affects the nation. The U.S. Department of Justice also has a presence on several of the major social media platforms.

The search engine on this site can look through every part of the DOJ site or you can pick which areas to search, such as Antitrust Division, Office of Public Affairs, INTERPOL Washington, and several others.

08
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SpotCrime

SpotCrime website
What We Like
  • Map with icons for different types of crimes.

  • Sends a text message when crimes occur in your area.

  • Includes burglary, theft, identify theft, assault, and other crimes.

What We Don't Like
  • Information about an individual crime is limited.

  • Contains display ads.

  • User interface could use a makeover.

SpotCrime is a crime search engine that shows results on a map. Find your city and then use the legend to figure out which crimes are represented.

The crimes on this site include the date and time and the specific address where they occurred. You can filter out specific crimes that you don't want to see, such as vandalism, robberies, assaults, arrests, etc. Also included are Most Wanted lists ordered by county.

You don't need an account to use this site but you do have to provide your email address if you want crime alerts. You can also submit crime tips.

09
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PoliceOne Directory Search

PoliceOne law enforcement directory search
What We Like
  • Really easy to use.

  • Direct, useful information.

  • Three ways to search.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't seem to be updated very often.

If you need to find a law enforcement agency, you can use the agency search engine at PoliceOne.

There are tens of thousands of results here that you can search through by the agency's name or the state it's in. There's also an agency type filter to find everything from juvenile probation and parole facilities to county jails, women's institutions, sheriffs departments, adult instructions, etc.

When you select a result, you can see the agency's full address, website, contact information, and other details such as how many officers there are and how many people it serves.