An effective evidence management system is all about efficiency. Learn how technology has reimagined one of a police department’s most inefficient processes: transcription.
You’ve done everything you can think of to increase efficiency in your department. From allowing citizens to report misdemeanors online to digitizing citations to using an evidence management system that makes it easy to catalog audio and video files, you’ve managed to give officers a bit more time in their shifts to proactively police their communities. But one task that continues to plague your department is transcription.
Transcription is time-intensive and costly
Audio and video evidence — from body-worn cameras, in-car cameras and interview room cameras, not to mention citizen cellphone videos, voicemails, security camera footage and so on — can make or break an investigation. But to be effective, these types of evidence often need to be transcribed for court purposes or simply to improve the accuracy in an officer’s report.
It’s common to see officers at the end of shift listening to their recordings in order to write their reports, especially in cases that involve use of force. Play. Stop. Type. “Wait, what’d the suspect say again?” Rewind. Repeat.
For high-profile cases, investigators commonly will send recordings out for transcription to an in-house team or third-party vendor, which is costly and can take days or even weeks to get back, depending on backlogs. This means the transcription process happens outside of your evidence management system, which can pose security issues and doesn’t maintain chain of custody. Enter Axon Auto-Transcribe, which is now an available feature of Axon Evidence.
Axon Auto-Transcribe means no more having to watch or listen to every minute of a piece of digital evidence or fast-forwarding and rewinding to get to relevant moments. With a click in Axon Evidence, you can have an auto-transcript within minutes as opposed to hours or days, making transcription accessible for every case and every piece of digital evidence.
With industry-leading accuracy — that constantly improves with machine learning — Auto-Transcribe is one of the most precise transcription solutions on the market. The technology is also specific to law enforcement, meaning it’ll pick up lingo like Mirandize, BOLO and RP.
Transforming evidence reviews and transcription
Auto-Transcribe also adds a third dimension to digital evidence: time-synched text.
“We call it hypermedia,” says Lee McMillan, director of product marketing at Axon. “What Auto-Transcribe does is marries text with the audio and visual elements of digital evidence.”
When you click “Auto-Transcribe” on a piece of media, a transcript appears right alongside it in the Axon Evidence interface. Then, you can click any word in the text to be taken to the exact point it’s spoken in the audio or video recording — making evidence reviews faster.
The hypermedia file is also used as the starting point for creating 100% accurate transcripts for use in the courtroom. Transcription Assistant, an editing tool within Axon Auto-Transcribe, uses time-synced text as a starting point, empowering users to make the necessary corrections instead of typing everything from scratch — they simply listen, review and confirm. This allows users to produce court-ready transcripts in a fraction of the time, at a fraction of the cost.
Saving time at every level
Research suggests humans can read about four times faster than they can listen, which means having access to a transcript makes grabbing quotes for a report much faster. And with the technology’s search capabilities, you can skip ahead to critical moments by looking for keywords or phrases such as “Drop the knife” or “You have the right to remain silent.”
“We’ve already heard from some clients that their officers are able to get through their videos 50, 60, 75% faster with Auto-Transcribe,” McMillan says.
Just imagine how much time supervisors could save when doing video reviews. Rather than having to fast-forward through downtime — when officers are driving to a call or running searches — now they can easily skip ahead to relevant parts of video.
Prosecutors also have reported huge time savings.
“District attorneys can spend hours and hours reviewing video evidence to see if they have a case,” McMillan says. “One ADA told us that with Auto-Transcribe, she’s been able to do her video reviews 25 to 50% faster. Our solution brought down the affordability bar so much that they’re transcribing more, and they’re bringing more evidence into court now.”
Improving physical and mental health
Transcribers can benefit from more than just being faster; typing can lead to repetitive stress injuries and many of the details in the videos can be disturbing and violent, leading to mental health issues and high turnover rates.
Traditional transcription methods require the transcriber to listen to a phrase, including ones that are painful to hear, 4 to 10 times while typing each sentence into a word processing tool. By starting with a hypermedia file, staff members are typing less and reducing the number of times they need to listen to difficult audio phases.
Transcription made easy
Axon Evidence with Auto-Transcribe helps your officers complete reports faster and with fewer errors. Learn more about Auto-Transcribe by contacting Axon.