Ah, summertime. Warm weather, blue skies, family picnics, lazy beach days — and increased chances of people committing violent crimes. Behavioral analysts, psychologists, statisticians, police officers, and other law enforcement professionals have known for years that there is a measurable increase in crimes during summer. Why is that? And what can we do to help our boys in blue, aside from not committing a crime? Let’s discuss how transcription can potentially assist our law enforcement agencies.
A Recognized Pattern
Several studies have been published regarding the correlation between the hot summer months and an increased rate of violent crimes. In June 2014, Lauritsen and White, using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, put out a research paper titled Seasonal Pattern in Criminal Victimization Trends — and the results were illuminating, to say the least. While crimes like sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, vehicular theft, and others had been steadily falling since the 90s, there were yearly uniform spikes of crimes during summertime — significantly higher than during any other season.
Similarly, Geoffroy and Amad’s 2016 paper, Seasonal Influence on Mass Shootings, saw a correlation between summertime and mass shooting incidences. According to their research, not only do mass shootings happen more during summertime, but the number of victims injured and killed during such events is also significantly higher than in other seasons.
Experts have several working theories as to why crimes increase during the summer, and some instances are easier to figure out than others. For example, home burglaries are typical during summer because people might be more inclined to open their windows to ease the heat, or they’re out of the house on vacation. It all boils down to opportunity, and criminals are nothing if not opportunistic.
As for violent crimes, almost everybody points to the weather. As temperature rises, people experience more discomfort, and with more discomfort comes increased chances of aggression. To be fair, we can’t just boil everything down to the weather, as it’s just one big factor in a complex subject. Mental illnesses, alcohol use, and a genetic propensity to violence also play a role.
The Toll of Summer on Our Police Officers
Of course, with increased crime rates come more emergency calls. Law enforcement agencies know this, so manpower requirements are highest during the summer.
Aside from crimes, though, police officers also deal with increased non-crime-related emergency calls such as injuries, accidents, and illnesses. Then there are the parades, public events and gatherings, increased traffic, juvenile activities, protests, public demonstrations, alcohol-related incidents, and many more that they must also deal with.
Our police officers aren’t impervious to the heat; they’re at the mercy of the punishing weather as they walk their beats and keep the peace, just like everybody else. They’re also more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke because of their duties. And after their outside responsibilities, they must sit at their desks to do paperwork. Recent surveys indicate that officers spend, on average, three to four hours — half of a typical 8-hour shift — doing paperwork.
Sometimes, they stay in their cars doing documentation just to meet deadlines. Doing paperwork in air-conditioned rooms is bad enough; imagine doing it while sitting in a car in 100-degree weather.
Doing this for long periods can lead to overwork, leading to burnout, and its high personal and societal costs. Officers lose focus, turnover rates spike, and summertimes worsen as management removes personnel from the roster.
How Outsourced Transcription Can Help Law Enforcement During The Summer
There’s nothing much we can do about increased crime rates during the summer — people will act as people do. However, we can help the officers handle all this by easing their workload. Enlisting the help of a law enforcement transcription company to take care of the paperwork can help police and other peace-keeping agencies focus on the more important matters.
Police officers these days almost all use their body cams to record each incident they encounter for documentation purposes. Once they’re back in the office, they must go over and transcribe their recordings for the necessary paperwork. This can take hours at a time — hours that are better used to focus on their primary responsibilities.
Transcription service providers can take that work off our police officers’ hands. No need to ride the desk for hours typing away at the computer. Simply send your audio or video recordings over to your transcription provider, and they’ll take care of the rest. The transcription can be delivered in multiple digital formats and professionally printed documents if requested. Special formatting requests can be accommodated so completed projects can fit neatly with any documentary requirements or record management system they use. Transcripts can be securely archived indefinitely for the client’s benefit or purged and deleted at any time.
In terms of accuracy, your choice of law enforcement transcription provider matters.
With everything else on their plate, it may be unfair to expect our police officers to be highly accurate when transcribing their recorded files. Besides, who wants to write down something that they’d already dictated? That just feels repetitive. And with the summer heat’s well-documented effects on mood and behavior, you know it will not be pleasant for our cops either way.
Assigning your transcription work to experts will ensure that all projects and transcripts are completed within their accuracy guarantees. Some transcription companies offer above 90% accuracy. Some offer up to 99%, and sometimes that 1% error rate is just a formality when it’s much closer to 100% perfect despite the many factors affecting accuracy rates. This is ideal because accuracy is critical to law enforcement transcription. Transcripts from officer dictations to police interviews can be used for legal proceedings, and incorrect transcripts have severely affected how cases end.
The cost of using a high-quality transcription service provider might be one of your first thoughts when considering how to improve your documentation process. And thanks to budget cuts, it’s easy to think that paying someone else to do it is a less efficient solution over the long term. But that’s not the case.
When you do your own transcription, you pay for recording and playback devices and the technology and support. For every hour of recorded audio (i.e.,interviews, patrol reports, investigative reports, 911 calls, wiretaps, body cam footage and more), transcribing each file’s contents is one task that takes 10-15 times that. This often results in paying overtime as officers are bogged down with paperwork, spending too much time transcribing their reports. The result? Your law enforcement officers aren’t out in the field protecting the community. And when they do go out there, they’re frustrated and possibly burnt out with all the paperwork they had to do the previous night.
Your agency might consider hiring in-house to ease the burden of additional paperwork. Doing so, however, entails a lot of extra costs. First, you need to find them, which can cost up to $10,000 for each new employee. Second, a decent transcriptionist makes about $60,000 a year. Third, you’ll need to provide your transcriptionists with training, employee benefits, paid vacation, and the equipment necessary to do their jobs.
That’s why, as far as costs go, outsourcing is your best option.
Since violent crimes are rising during summer, chances are a lot of police recordings taken during the summer season will be used in court. The U.S. Legal System requires transcripts of audio or video files to be certified for court use. A transcription service provider must be able and willing to provide that certification. But to do so, transcriptionists must be able to meet several requirements:
- Must reside in the U.S. and be a legal U.S. citizen
- Must have previous provable experience transcribing legal proceedings
- Must undergo a thorough criminal background check
- Must be willing to certify any legal document they transcribe
- Must be willing to testify under oath if called upon
Summer heat is bad enough — you don’t want to deal with data breaches on top of that. The best transcription service providers out there must be able to offer security and confidentiality well above the usual username-and-password protection. Here are some of the preferred security features you need to look for:
- Detailed Reporting and Tracking Features
- Individually Defined User Access Levels
- Individual User Names, Passwords, and PINs (immediate deactivation upon request)
- Scaled Network Redundancy
- Virtual Private Network (VPN) Integration
- Dedicated Datacenters
- Network defense wireless tools
- Web vulnerability scanning tools
- Packet sniffers
- Antivirus software
- Endpoint protection
- SSL 256-bit Secure Encryption
To ensure a transcription provider meets all the above requirements and has the best security in the industry, look for a CJIS-compliant company. CJIS is the division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that offers data storage, protection, transfer, and other information technology services for all law enforcement agencies on all levels of government. Any transcription service provider that can comply with CJIS’s numerous and rigorous policies is a company you can trust.
Ditto Transcripts is a Denver, Colorado-based, CJIS-compliant law enforcement transcription company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcription services for law enforcement departments and investigators. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial.