Law Enforcement Transcription

By: Danielle Chazen
Law Enforcement Transcription

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Professionals in police departments, security firms, law firms, courts, and government agencies all rely on law enforcement transcription services to effectively do their jobs. This saves time, helps with the submission of accurate evidence, builds stronger cases, and reduces costs. But how does something as seemingly mundane as law enforcement transcription make such a big impact on the legal system? What equipment does an organization need to obtain reliable transcription? What should professionals take into account when considering legal transcription outsourcing? This guide is here to answer these questions.

What is Law Enforcement Transcription?

The law enforcement industry produces a significant amount of audiovisual materials that need to be turned into searchable text to enable more efficient work. 

Examples of Law Enforcement Transcription

Legal transcription companies work on a wide range of projects, from court hearings and depositions to fire reports. One area with a massive demand for services is police department transcription. Police transcription covers investigation reports, surveillance audiovisual materials, victim testimonies, witness statements, suspect interrogations, patrol reports, traffic violations, accident reports, 911 calls, and arrest reports, just to name a few. But why do legal and police transcription services make such a big difference in this important line of work?

Why Law Enforcement Transcription Services Can Make or Break a Case

In law enforcement, a very small detail can mean the difference between evidence that is accepted or dismissed in court. It can also be the differentiating factor between investigators discovering a key clue to solve the crime, or missing it altogether. Although the accuracy of documentation is critical, officers are rarely in a position to perform this function properly on the scene. Using law enforcement transcribers takes a huge load off their shoulders, and lets them focus on what they do best.

More specifically, legal transcription outsourcing saves hours upon hours of desk work, which law enforcers would otherwise need to do themselves. It also costs police departments far more to pay for police officers to sit behind a desk to transcribe, or even hire in-house law enforcement transcribers than to pay to have the transcription work outsourced by a professional service provider. After all, these companies work around the clock to qualify transcribers and ensure the absolute accuracy of their final product. 

How is Law Enforcement Transcription performed?

Legal transcription companies often offer 24/7 services, so that authorities and organizations can receive their necessary documents as quickly as possible. That often means on the same or following day for urgent cases, although other cases may take longer. To ensure timely and accurate service, companies work hard to find and qualify the best law enforcement transcribers, a process that involves many factors. Often, the transcribers that are hired have prior experience in the domain, as transcribers must be familiar with a large number of industry terms to make the process efficient, fast, and cost-effective, without compromising on quality.

Also, due to the sensitive nature of the work, transcribers are often exposed to content that isn’t easy or comfortable to hear, and it’s important for them to fully understand what they’re getting themselves into. For the same reason, transcribers usually go through full criminal background checks before they can begin working. They’re also typically required to sign strict NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) to ensure confidentiality. It is highly recommended to verify that your law enforcement transcription service provider adheres to these guidelines so that peoples’ safety and authentic case outcomes are not compromised.

How Transcription Equipment Impacts Police Departments and Other Legal Organizations

Both transcription companies and law enforcement organizations need to priorities high-quality tools for accurate and cost-effective transcriptions. Here’s why.

Equipment Recommendations for Law Enforcement Organizations that Want Accurate Transcription

For law enforcement transcribers to provide fast and accurate transcriptions, legal authorities and organizations must provide them with high-quality audio. While it is possible to efficiently transcribe lower-quality audio files, it takes longer and costs more, and accuracy is often more challenging to guarantee. Therefore, providing high-quality recorders and dictation tools for your department. Team members can record via smartphone apps, on the computer, or using surveillance equipment such as cameras. That said, it is also important to ensure the legal transcription companies you consider have an efficient toolbox that can guarantee high-quality work.

Equipment that Smart Transcription Companies Leverage

Note-taking apps, noise-canceling headphones, and foot pedals that allow transcribers to rewind and fast forward the audio are a great start, but if there is no usage of advanced digital tools the transcription process will likely take longer. The best transcription systems rely on the most important factor for accuracy: human intelligence. Consider what happens when you empower human intelligence with automatic speech recognition (ASR) and artificial intelligence (AI). When a transcription company uses automatic speech recognition, it becomes easier to understand who is speaking, even if there is no video. This way, the chance of mixing up two witnesses’ voices, for example, significantly decreases. Similarly, when a transcription company uses artificial intelligence, the levels of accuracy and efficiency are enhanced because AI technology is all about getting better the more you use it.

At first, the company behind the technology teaches the software by feeding it with data such industry terms, prior court cases, book titles, judge names, and an abundance of additional information, so that the software can instantly recognize as many details as possible from audio files. While the software transcribes audio files at unprecedented speeds, human law enforcement transcribers review the automated text and make any corrections. The software then learns from its mistakes, gets smarter, and makes fewer errors with each future use.

For agencies that are considering outsourcing law enforcement transcription, it’s important to ensure your provider remembers the power of human intelligence. Keeping human intelligence at the forefront and empowering it with smart technology is bound to decrease both department costs and stress levels, as a very tedious aspect of the work becomes simplified.