Investigation Transcription Services: Why Do You Need Them?

Dealing with reluctant witnesses and collecting and organizing evidence are things you expect during investigations. There’s also the chance that interviews and encounters might not have gone as the investigator remembered, which could compromise the report. Recording the investigation process is a great way to maintain accurate records, but videos can be unwieldy for review and collaboration. Investigation transcription can immensely help with these issues and provide other proven benefits. 

In this article, you’ll learn how:

  • Investigation transcription services play a pivotal role in overcoming challenges within the investigative process. They convert large, valuable video recordings into written transcripts, ensuring precise documentation.
  • Outsourcing proves cost-effective, seamlessly integrating with existing workflows, saving time and resources. However, price cannot be the end-all, be-all, as security is also a top consideration.
  • Ditto delivers affordable, fast, and accurate transcription services while offering some of the highest security standards in the industry. 

What Is Investigation Transcription? 

It’s easy to record everything these days. Law enforcement and other investigative organizations have fully embraced that ease by allowing their investigators to utilize recording or dictation equipment and software. Videos and audio equipment capture everything said while investigators focus on tasks like interviewing witnesses or reviewing cases. 

Investigation transcription refers to turning video, audio, or even text files from various sources into digital or physical text. This can include video files, telephone recordings or wiretaps, surveillance recordings, forensic audio or video evidence, conversation tapes, witness interviews, footage of motor accidents, and more. 

Who Needs Investigation Transcription Services?

Though investigations are typically tied to law enforcement agencies, they are not strictly limited to them. Here are examples of agencies and individuals that conduct investigations in official capacities: 

InvestigatorsExamples
Law Enforcement AgenciesPolice, FBI, federal agencies
Private InvestigatorsPrivate individuals, investigative firms, detectives
Government AgenciesRegulatory bodies, government agencies
Corporate InvestigatorsIn-house corporate investigators, attorneys, external law firms
JournalistsInvestigative journalists
Independent ResearchersAcademics, researchers, independent experts
AuditorsAuditing firms
Human Rights OrganizationsNGOs, human rights organizations
Cybersecurity ExpertsCybersecurity professionals
Insurance InvestigatorsInsurance companies, claims investigators

Potential Issues With Investigation Recordings

While recording investigations is a far more preferable method than, say, writing things down or committing them to memory, it does come with its own set of challenges. Here are some of them: 

Poor Audio Or Video Quality

Private investigators often don’t have the luxury of getting the best recording equipment. Even police officers, backed with state funding, don’t necessarily have the best equipment. (The history of law enforcement and outdated equipment goes a long, long way.) 

Critical details from conversations may be difficult to understand, which can lead to questioning the value of the recording as evidence and hinder the overall effectiveness of the investigation.

Background Noises

Crime scene investigations don’t always happen in secluded, forested areas devoid of sound, except for the occasional bird call. Private investigators also have to deal with different environments when conducting their investigations. Issues with background noises can be particularly noticeable in urban areas, public spaces, outdoor settings, and during covert operations. 

The Chain Of Custody And Confidentiality 

The US criminal justice system has stringent requirements for proper procedure, handling, and preservation of evidence. Non-compliance with proper procedure can risk nullifying any recording as evidence. This can lead to wasted days or months of the investigator’s time. In the worst case, it can be grounds for completely throwing out the case. 

Furthermore, recordings from investigations often contain sensitive personal or criminal justice information. These recordings must be kept in secure locations or storages, and anyone with official access to them must meet elevated security standards. The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) provides strict guidelines for anyone handling criminal justice information and is the gold standard for law enforcement security. 

Authentication And Certification

Deepfakes and other synthetic media are now a growing concern, especially with law enforcement and the federal government. If you don’t believe me, you can search for audio deepfakes of politicians. OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, has openly admitted that they anticipate their flagship AI model will be used for such tactics in the run-up to the elections and have already taken steps to minimize the damage. 

That’s why proper authentication of evidence is paramount for any investigation. Additionally, any supporting documents based on that recording must be appropriately certified before they can be admissible in court. 

The Benefits of Investigative Transcription Services

Let’s talk about how a reliable transcription service provider can help. 

Accurate, Convenient Record Of Events

Studies show over 75% of police officers manually transcribe their notes and spend over 3 hours daily on paperwork. To compensate, they often defer documentation to a later time. Similarly, investigators must either depend on taking notes in real-time as they conduct investigations or rely entirely on memory.

This is not a recommended way of doing things, as memory is imperfect. Studies have found that officer recollection can be affected by how much involvement they have and how stressed they are during encounters. 

Video and audio recordings provide more detail and can be the basis for reports or ongoing investigations. However, reviewing such files can become another time drain that takes focus away from more important matters. Transcribing them yourself is even worse and more time-consuming. 

Accurate transcription can be the answer to all issues. Verbatim transcripts are complete, unabridged reports of any event during an investigation, leaving out no detail or nuance. They are also digitally searchable, making reviews faster and more convenient. 

However, I must emphasize that all this depends on accuracy. Automated transcription services are only about 86% accurate, which is unsuitable for official use. Other providers settle for 95 or 98 %, which might be okay for some investigative processes. However, I wouldn’t bet my life on it. 

Ditto Transcripts offers more than 99% accuracy for investigative transcription services to police departments, private investigators, and other government and corporate agencies. 

Faster, Cheaper Option

Meeting your investigation transcription needs in-house might not be the best option. Private investigators can run into budget constraints. Police departments might need to sacrifice critical resources like additional man hours or extra budget to keep up with transcription work. Lawyers can be distracted from legal proceedings while looking for a good transcriber. 

Outsourcing your transcription needs to experts like Ditto Transcripts helps you keep workflow steady and investigations on track and within budget. You can choose from our different transcription rates, with standard pricing starting at $1.75 per audio minute with a three- to five-day turnaround time (TAT). We also offer different turnaround times for various deadline requirements and budgets. 

We also have an easy-to-use platform where audio and video can be uploaded with no hassle. Additionally, completed transcripts are archived indefinitely, making them easier to access from anywhere if you have a device and internet connection. 

Easier Documentation And Analysis

Searchable transcripts allow investigators to review key events without sitting through hours and hours of recordings. This can be great for research and case preparation. Transcripts are also easier to archive and distribute, should you need to. 

Of course, transcripts need to be integrated into your overall documentation structure and workflow with ease. Providers with years of experience in law enforcement transcription (like us) know what you need. Do you have a report template you want us to follow? How about a style guide or specific text format? Let us know, and we’ll have it done.

Improved Security And Confidentiality

Investigators risk losing papers or having notes stolen. Video or audio files aren’t safe if their storage devices are compromised. They are also at the mercy of data corruption—something that happens far more often than we’d like to think. 

A verbatim transcript of such recordings stored off-site under a reliable provider’s watchful eye ensures no data loss. On top of that, Ditto offers top-of-the-line security protocols like encryption, elevated user access management, redundant backups, network firewalls, and many more to ensure that your sensitive data is kept confidential.

Ditto Transcripts is also CJIS compliant. This means that your investigation transcription reports are covered by much more than your standard security measures. Law enforcement and other investigation firms can rest easy knowing that a secure transcription company that meets legal requirements handles their data and won’t compromise their evidence with unauthorized processes. Furthermore, all our transcriptionists sign an NDA and can certify transcripts for court use. 

Accessibility And Translation

Whether it’s investigative reports or sting operation recordings, transcripts allow authorized, differently-abled individuals access to the same information as everybody else. Free access to information levels the playing field, helps meet legal requirements and facilitates a more open, collaborative investigation process for applicable situations.

Furthermore, Ditto offers translation services for investigative recordings in foreign languages. There’s no need to split the work between this provider and that—we have you completely covered. 

Service FeatureDitto TranscriptsOffshore or Automated Services
99% AccuracyYesNo
100% Human TranscriptionYesNo
US-Based TranscribersYesNo
CJIS ComplianceYesNo
Affordability YesMaybe
High-qualityYesNo
FlexibilityYesNo
Fast Turnaround TimesYesMaybe

Need Investigation Transcription Services? We’ll Cover You

Get Ditto’s accurate, high-quality investigation transcription service today and see why we’re at the top of the industry. 

Ditto Transcripts is a Denver, Colorado-based, CJIS-compliant transcription services company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcripts for individuals and companies of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial.

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