Article by Jeff Noctis
As long as law enforcement agencies have been dealing with recorded audio and video, there’s been a need for law enforcement transcription. Despite advancements in technology, those pieces of audio and video that are entered into evidence or as part of an investigation still need to be transcribed for reasons of documentation and clarity.The responsibility for transcription has commonly fallen on the shoulders of those professionals that require the work; law enforcement agencies, attorneys, public defenders, prosecutors, security companies, and others.Unfortunately, over time the caseloads for law enforcement agencies have increased while there has been no increase (and sometimes a decrease) in personnel to manage the work and influx of forensic transcription.Budget cuts have made it virtually impossible for many law enforcement agencies to bring on additional staff to assist with the translation and transcription, creating a nightmare of labor costs for many divisions.Security ConcernsThe possibility of outsourcing forensic transcription is one that is routinely discussed in many agencies, but many have reservations about utilizing outsourced services, particularly when delicate evidence in audio and video is concerned.In the past many agencies were wary about sending out hardcopies of audio and video to be handled by a law enforcement transcription company when considering the potential of that content becoming “lost” or corrupted.Likewise, the more hands an item passed through, the greater the chance of the material becoming damaged or leaked – especially to the media. These security concerns have encouraged a number of agencies to retain the transcription and translation work in house.As technology has advanced however, new and far safer methods make it extremely simple to get the necessary content to a transcription service; Audio and video content can be uploaded to a secured server managed by the transcription service. This secure upload makes it easy to monitor and maintain who has custody of the content because it passes easily from point A (the law enforcement agency that requires the transcription) to point B (the transcription service). Reeling Budget ConsiderationsWith the economical upset across the nation, many law enforcement agencies have suffered severe budget cuts that cost them both personnel and equipment. As such, it’s been extremely difficult for many of those agencies to justify paying an additional cost for outsourcing forensic transcription.For many transcription services, it is common to charge by the line or by the page. Unfortunately it’s often very difficult to determine how many pages an interview will leave you with once it’s transcribed. There is another option that can make budgeting easier for law enforcement agencies, and that’s to opt for transcription services that charge by the minute.That means if an agency needs transcription for a 46 minute interview – whether in audio or video format – then the agency is charged for 46 minutes.The Real Benefit of Outsourcing Law Enforcement TranscriptionThe real problem facing law enforcement agencies, and any agency involved in the criminal justice system that is subject to strict budgets, is that in-house transcription takes up a tremendous amount of time and man power to complete.Many agencies oppose outsourced transcription services because they fear the cost, as mentioned previously, but they don’t consider the actual cost of keeping that transcription in-house. Their intention is to save money by keeping transcription in-house but unfortunately that decision is costing some agencies a great deal of money.
Salaries/WagesPaid to those employees, secretaries, etc. who are required to transcribe the data – sometimes in the form of overtime depending on the case load.Management ExpensesTranscriptions typically need to be reviewed for accuracy and tracked to ensure that they are being completed in a timely manner. This can take time away from those in positions of authority within the department or agency.Cost of Information TechnologyThe cost of purchasing and maintaining software and hardware plus the training of employees and personnel to utilize the equipment for audio and video transcriptionOverflow and Delay CostsThere are inevitable times when delays occur which can pose significant problems to law enforcement cases where a deadline is concerned. Often the overflow and delayed material winds up in the hands of an outsourced company. Due to a looming deadline and thus a rapid turnaround requirement, the cost for such a service is often higher.A Viable AlternativeForensic and law enforcement transcription & translation outsourcing have become one of the primary ways that many agencies are finding budget relief. With skilled outsourcing to a service that employs trained forensic transcriptionists, law enforcement agencies gain a number of benefits:Reduced man hours of on-site personnelElimination of the need to hire additional personnel to meet demandsImproved quality of the transcribed contentReduced delays in transcription (rapid turnaround)Outsourcing of forensic transcription means that far more agencies will be able to put their personnel where they belong – focusing on the agency’s primary responsibilities. With skilled outsourcing, law enforcement agencies, security companies, and so-on can trim costs because they are able to get transcripts completed on time, thus meeting the demand of an increased case load without the need to hire more staff or force current staff to burn the candle at both ends.The new age of digital transcription via the web has given law enforcement agencies, public defenders offices, security companies, and others a means of maintaining the security of their data as it’s being passed off to trained forensic transcriptionists, and a rapid turnaround on those pressing cases that need to be handled quickly.
About the Author
TransDual Forensics offers digital and analog transcription services. Our areas of expertise include law enforcement transcription, criminal justice, forensic pathology, and general transcription services. For more information visit our website to read about our legal transcription services.