Law enforcement agencies now utilize the latest technology to boost efficiency, like drones, automation, cameras, smart device technologies, improved protective gear, and other advancements in cybercrime tools. One tool, however, stands above the rest: transcription technology. Agencies can use transcription services to convert interviews, 911 calls, wiretaps, interrogations, and other verbal records into text, thus simplifying archiving and streamlining the often time-consuming paperwork police officers must do while enhancing their productivity.
The Benefits of Law Enforcement Transcription Technologies
Studies done by the International Association of Chiefs of Police found that police officers spend more than three hours a day doing paperwork. The author, Mark Geremia, states, “Documentation demands take officers away from mission-critical tasks.”
Police officers often have to defer manual documentation to a later time to perform their roles while meeting daily deadlines. Unfortunately, this negatively impacts reporting quality as they have to depend on memory or rushed handwritten notes, which might be hours old by the time they get around to using them.
The other alternative is to do the paperwork immediately after a law enforcement encounter in their cars. This is not only ergonomically unsafe but also leaves the officers vulnerable and unable to act immediately. They have to keep their eyes down on their laptops, taking away their attention from their immediate surroundings.
Germania calls for additional investments to help with this problem. Transcription can be one of those investments, and its benefits aren’t limited to police officers; prosecutors and civilians can also enjoy its advantages. Here’s how:
Reduces Administrative Tasks
The primary benefit of transcription is taking a good chunk of paperwork off of our officer’s hands. Without needing to do the documentation for hours on end, our boys in blue can be in tip-top shape, unburdened by deadlines, and free to act quickly and tactically in their daily patrols. Detectives can review evidence sooner, prosecutors can prepare charges faster, and wait times decrease. Digital formats also eliminate physical storage needs like file cabinets full of paper documents, as transcripts can be stored on servers and accessed securely online from anywhere.
Law enforcement transcription services eliminate distractions for police departments. Transcribing sensitive interviews requires focus in a quiet setting. Police stations’ bustling environments disrupt concentration, which could lead to mistakes. Transcription services let expert transcribers work undisturbed in secure facilities designed for accuracy. This prevents officers and transcribers from distracting each other as well. Officers don’t have to hear repeated audio payback. Transcribers avoid station noise interfering with their work. Both parties can focus fully on their tasks by keeping transcriptionists physically separate.
Officers risk losing papers or having manual notes stolen. Law enforcement and legal transcription companies confront this issue by using encryption to protect recorded interviews. Courts and lawyers can access and share files online without worrying about security, rather than handling paper transcripts. Of course, this largely depends on what security protocols the transcription company uses, though the most common ones are encryption, username and password protection, scaled network redundancy, VPNs, and firewalls. Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to seek providers with CJIS or Criminal Justice Information Services compliance to ensure confidentiality.
Improves Accuracy of Reports
Errors in transcriptions can negatively impact investigations. Misinterpretation and missing important details can happen when officers manually write up reports from recordings. They’re also prone to exhaustion as their job requires long hours and frequently involves stressful situations. Inaccuracies in the official statements can then be propagated as detectives or prosecutors rely on them to build their cases. Even small mistakes can derail a case if they contradict other evidence.
Certain technology offers faster transcription for audio or video evidence, like voice recognition software and dictation apps. However, the level of accuracy for these tools is lower than that of human transcriptionists, so they’re not the best choice for transcribing sensitive information.
Here are a few other benefits of having accurate transcripts:
- Fewer errors that could weaken prosecution cases.
- Eliminates unintentional investigator bias, which is sometimes driven by emotion.
- Limits disputes over who said what.
- Refreshes officer’s memories before trial.
- Allows all parties to collaborate from the same record.
Enhances Transparency and Accountability
Police transcription services can help police departments improve transparency and accountability. For example, communities often demand answers and evidence after large public incidents. So rather than speculating based on limited information, law enforcement can access a transcript to provide a precise record of what transpired. Law enforcement can also release interviews or transcription of police body cam footage to the media, giving the public further transparency into officer investigations. This insight enhances understanding and credibility.
Transcripts also strengthen accountability within law enforcement agencies. The Chicago Police Department conducted a 17-month study (from June 2016 to December 2017) by assigning body cameras to their police officers and found a significant effect on police accountability.
A more recent study in 2021 found that police officers were 64% more likely to face disciplinary actions after being subjected to a complaint investigation. Recordings and accurate transcripts provide an accurate version of events that can pinpoint potential missteps and take action if needed. It’s much harder for the officers to claim “we didn’t know” or “we had no record of that” when a recording exists.
Assists Prosecution in Courts
Transcriptions of police interviews can provide support for prosecutors handling criminal cases. They can authenticate evidence, establish chains of custody, and fully understand case details and witness statements. This gives prosecutors a strong foundation upon which they can build cases. They spend less time verifying sources and more time crafting legal arguments.
Prosecutors can develop trial strategies knowing they have a complete factual record. They can also avoid misrepresenting testimony by pulling “key quotes” directly from the transcripts to support their arguments. In appeals, accurate documentation of the trial record helps prosecutors formulate cases by revisiting witness testimonies. This allows them to identify opportunities to strengthen their case. Judges and juries can also review the facts themselves in the transcription.
Why Police Departments Need Help From Professional Law Enforcement Transcription Companies
A 2018 study by Nuance revealed paperwork poses a challenge for police officers. Respondents said that documentation takes up over half of an average shift, which means little time for crime fighting and public safety. While CAD and RMS systems help simplify processes, putting the data into the systems requires time and effort.
Over 75% of officers manually transcribe their notes, which is inefficient and risks accuracy. 50% of respondents create incident reports by hand before typing them up, which duplicates effort and cuts into time in the field. However, 58% reported using tools like recorders and mobile devices to complete reports, and over 75% were interested in transcription technologies to improve efficiency.
The conclusion is clear—paperwork burdens officers and diverts time from higher priority work, and digital solutions like police transcription can help.
Tips on Outsourcing to Professional Law Enforcement Transcription Services
Choosing the right transcription service company for law enforcement agencies is not easy. However, certain guidelines and non-negotiable criteria can be used to determine if the company you choose is a good fit for your requirements.
1. Accuracy: As mentioned earlier, law enforcement and legal transcripts must be as accurate as possible. Transcription errors can negatively affect law enforcement officers, prosecution cases, and defendants’ lives. Choose a provider with 99% guaranteed accuracy rates and a solid and streamlined workflow that ensures precision and quality control at every step. Try to avoid service providers using automated transcription tools like artificial intelligence transcription and speech recognition technology.
Even though they’re often inaccurate, prone to issues with background noises, and may cause more issues than they fix, transcriptions created by AI are not admissible in court. Remember that efficiency and accuracy are tell-tale signs of a reliable company.
2. Security: Information leaks can destroy credibility, mess with the criminal justice process, and potentially affect many lives. Look for providers like Ditto Transcriptions, who offer stringent security measures that meet CJIS guidelines to ensure every piece of data is as secure as possible.
3. Pricing: Beware of services with unrealistically low rates. Those companies are often offshore, using foreign transcriptionists who cannot certify their transcripts, thus not being admissible in court. High transcription prices, on the other hand, decrease cost-effectiveness. Look for cost-effective and affordable companies that are 100% transparent with their prices.
4. Expertise: US-based professional transcriptionists trained in legal transcription better understand legalese, redaction rules, hearing formats, and other nuances only someone in the United States will understand. They are also more familiar with American legal processes and law enforcement practices and can provide more accurate transcription. Check credentials, sample work, testimonials, and company longevity. Law enforcement transcription can often overlap with legal or medical transcription, so it’s best to find a company that caters to all industries.
6. Complementary Services: Look for transcription providers that offer complementary services like timestamps, translation, and subtitling. One-stop access increases convenience and continuity.
Benefits of Hiring U.S.-Based Transcription Companies
|Ditto Transcripts||Offshore Companies|
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U.S.-based transcription companies are service providers conducting all their operations in the United States and hire native English speakers as transcriptionists. Transcriptions provided by non-US companies cannot be used in court.
Ditto Transcripts is a CJIS-compliant and HIPAA-compliant, Denver, Colorado-based transcription company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcription services to companies and agencies of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial. Visit our website for more information about our transcription services.