An initial step in the right direction is to see which type of record you need and why. Employers tend to request background checks, and so do individuals for various purposes to see a conviction history, of which there are many sources, either private or government. What if you're looking for a recent arrest? You're suspecting an individual you know may have been arrested. It is not similar to when a celebrity gets arrested and appears all over the media after that. It would be best to find someone you think may be in custody and do it immediately.
Viewing recent arrests is simple and open to the public in many jurisdictions. This is especially true in densely populated areas with more extensive jail facilities. When an individual is arrested, they go through a booking process. The process provides a record of detained individuals, which can include the incident report, evidence, and more, depending on the policy and procedures of each facility. With ads all over the net from private entities claiming to provide arrest reports, a significant number of the public is unaware that police and sheriff departments offer free public use of their online inmate databases. Los Angeles maintains one of the most extensive county facilities in the U.S., housing a highly populated jail; their website offers a name query inmate search.
Finally, when trying to get arrest reports, sometimes called incident reports, why not go directly to the source of information, the police and sheriff's stations? Their websites can show you how to make an arrest report request containing better detail than a simple inmate search. The bottom line is that criminal information comes from one government office/agency or another. With the help of technology, many have public resources that can eliminate the need for an intermediary, such as a private entity reselling the information.