Serving the Boulder County community, Colorado's 20th Judicial District Attorney's Office is a large agency adapting to the flood of video information caused by the widespread adoption of body-worn cameras (BWCs). After analyzing the challenges they faced, the agency decided the only way they could effectively leverage this new evidence stream was to implement an entirely new evidence management system.
For the DA’s office, three evidence management issues were creating difficulties for their staff: managing an overwhelming amount of video evidence, getting access to quality video transcriptions, and navigating media compatibility challenges.
Overwhelming evidence: BWCs have been a tremendous step forward for the criminal justice system, but have created an enormous amount of evidence that agencies have to be able to store and share effectively to actually use. The DA’s Office was overwhelmed with the amount of video evidence it now had access to and they needed a solution for handling it.
Transcription bottleneck: Having quality transcriptions of video and audio evidence is a vital asset for criminal prosecutors. But, like many agencies, the DA’s office had to use expensive third-party services to get a transcription. Budgetary constraints forced them to be highly selective with their transcriptions, often leaving attorneys without crucial reference materials.
Tricky compatibility: The DA’s Office received case-relevant video evidence in various file formats, creating compatibility issues throughout the legal process. What the agency needed was a system that could handle video content across formats so that authorized individuals could access any piece of media quickly and easily.
As the offices’ leadership grappled with these issues, Assistant District Attorney, Ken Kupfner, suggested turning to Axon — a reliable tech partner he had seen help modernize other agencies’ tech stacks. As Kupfner observed, when “we had our first agencies in the district come on board with Axon, I became a big fan because it consumed far fewer resources and made storing and sharing all this data so much easier.”
When demoing Justice Premier — Axon’s digital evidence management system — the first thing that caught Kupfner’s eye was its simple and rapid transcription functionality.
“Premier’s transcription capabilities really helped sell me on the solution as a whole and signaled to me that this product was superior to anything else,” he said. “We were allowed to do a free test drive of the feature, and our deputies immediately started transcribing interviews and body-worn camera videos. Once we all figured out we could drag and drop anything into it and have it transcribed, we knew we had something that could transform how we do our jobs.”
Along with Auto-Transcribe, Premier also had the other key features the agency was looking for:
Streamlined digital evidence management: Premier could host all the agency’s video footage, photographs, audio, documents, and more in a secure cloud. The platform also makes sharing this evidence (as well as understanding the chain of custody and evidence authenticity) straightforward.
Universal video playback: Premier is compatible with any media format, allowing users to easily view and manage third-party video files.
With every feature box ticked, the DA’s office decided to move forward with the implementation, transitioning the agency from its legacy evidence management system to Axon’s newest solution.
According to Kupfner, the deployment process took some effort on both sides — but the investment was worth it: “We faced several challenges when we started with Premier and had to do some tweaking to get the system to get things where we wanted. That said, Axon’s customer service is absolutely amazing. Their team always gave us support no matter when we reached out, responded quickly to our product suggestions, and helped our staff get their sea legs on the new platform. Now we can do things with Premier that I didn’t think our agency would ever be able to do.”
Once the implementation process was complete, Premier began delivering on every challenge the DA’s office had identified, transforming their evidence management capabilities:
From overloaded to empowered: “Premier is far better than any comparable product,” said Kupfner. “To put it simply, it’s the only tech I know of that allows prosecutors to handle the massive amounts of evidence — like the tidal wave body-worn-camera footage — that are now on their laps. This is especially true of its sharing features, which save our staff a lot of time. Our office only has 38 lawyers serving a community of over 320,000, so efficiency is a high priority for us.”
From selective to inclusive: “The ability to transcribe things whenever you want, for free, instead of having to pick and choose among files has been huge for our agency,” said Kupfner. “This feature impressed us from the get-go, and it hasn’t disappointed since. I’ve personally used Auto-Transcribe extensively — even real-time during a trial — and it has remained a popular tool for many in the DA’s Office.”
From incompatible to adaptable: “The third-party vendor viewing ability was critical to us,” said Kupfner. “We had major cases, like a five-homicide case, where the interview footage was incredibly difficult to utilize because of formatting issues. Premier allows us to easily store, play, transcribe, and share any kind of video media however we needed.”
The value the DA’s office has realized with Premier has made a deep impression on its leadership, and Kupfner noted that he would recommend that any agency consider partnering with Axon: “I recently had an opportunity to sit on a review process for an agency looking for a new body-worn camera vendor, and I advocated for Axon. Now two of the three major law enforcement agencies in our district use Axon. I’m an advocate because all their tech, hardware to software, is a cut above everything else.”
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