The news yesterday was the announcement by the State Patrol and Governor Dave Heineman of a new online state criminal history report. For $18 on your credit card, you can now get a more-or-less instant check of a Nebraska State Patrol criminal history. Lincoln Police Department criminal histories have been available online at $10 each for, oh, about a dozen years, I suppose.
So, what's the difference between a LPD criminal history and an NSP criminal history? A Lincoln Police Department criminal history is a listing of arrests by Lincoln police officers and their disposition (with certain exceptions described here.) It does not include arrests by any other law enforcement agencies. A Nebraska State Patrol criminal history, is a list of arrests and dispositions (with certain exceptions described here) by all Nebraska law enforcement agencies.
Theoretically, then, you would expect an NSP criminal history to be more complete than an LPD criminal history. The answer, however, may be both yes and no. The reason it isn't so simple is this: NSP criminal histories are fingerprint-based. If the defendant wasn't fingerprinted, the arrest will not appear. There are many arrests for which the defendant is not fingerprinted. Nebraska State law favors citation and release for misdemeanor offenses.
In Lincoln, for example, about 80% of misdemeanor arrests are cite-and-release situations: the defendant is issued a ticket and given a court date for something like misdemeanor assault, shoplifting, trespassing, disturbing the peace, urinating in public, vandalism, DWI, driving while suspended, littering, procuring alcohol for a minor, and released with a ticket and a court date--no slammer, no prints, no mugshot. Arrests like this will not show up on an NSP or FBI RAP sheet. There is an acknowledgement on NSP's website of this limitation, but it gives the impression that these are just minor traffic infractions, which is not the case.
Conversely, an LPD criminal history will show all of these arrests and dispositions, whether the defendant was booked into jail and printed or just cited and released. If you really want to get the best information, you'd need to do both a State criminal history and an LPD criminal history. If you only do one or the other, it is something of a crap shoot as to which will be better.
If you're responsible for background checks, it would be wise to re-read my previous post on this topic, and to remember: "online" doesn't necessarily mean "complete." In reality, there is no such thing as a complete criminal history.