How to Find a Great Law Enforcement Transcription Company

American Language Services has been helping local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies get the documentation they need, from audio files, for nearly 4 decades.  In that time, we developed a keen understanding of the sector and its unique transcription requirements. Our dedication to the industry has gotten us a lot of praise over the years.

In this whitepaper we will go over some basic information about police transcription and explore the characteristics that make a good law enforcement transcription agency.

An Overview of Police Transcription

Often seen as an offshoot of legal transcription, law enforcement transcription is essential to modern police forces. Without it, winning prosecutions in court and having accurate evidence records would be almost impossible.

There was a time, many years ago that police transcriptions were left to either overworked officers, administrative staff, or unpaid volunteers. This time has long passed. As the demand for transcription services increased, especially for non- English projects, most law enforcement agencies recognized that the way transcriptions were being handling was simply not working efficiently. There were too many missed deadlines and very poor-quality work was the norm.

Fortunately, modern technology has made it easier to outsource transcription tasks to companies like ours. That means your essential staff spends more time spent enforcing the law with the precise evidence.

Before the internet, having a third-party handle police transcription was a nightmare. You either had to ship boxes of tapes and CD’S back and forth or deal with a constant parade of freelancers coming in and out of your personal space. That is no longer the case. Nowadays, cruisers come equipped with recording devices. Many officers also carry handheld recorders. These two things let them dictate their thoughts in real-time without worrying about recall later. The resulting footage or audio can then be instantly transmitted to the transcribing agency of choice. No hassle or wasted time required.

In terms of processing, law enforcement transcription work and after receiving the digital files, transcriptionist listens to it and types out verbatim, what he or she hears. After verifying the accuracy of the ending document, they send the file back to the language agency for final QC review and then it is delivered to the enforcement agency. The main difference between this type of transcription and other types is the expertise required. Someone who doesn’t understand police terminology or departmental processes will struggle to comprehend the context of the content being submitted to them.

Why It’s Important to Get Law Enforcement Transcription Right

People’s lives can be forever altered by a badly transcribed witness statement or incident report. Because of the impact it can have on a case, it is clear that law enforcement transcription is not something that can be left to distracted administrative staff or to vital workers, like police officers who should not be spending valuable time on this type of work.

Law enforcement transcriptions are almost always a task better left outsourced. But you must be picky about your chosen vendor. Going for the most budget-friendly option can mean:

  • Lower accuracy rates
  • Missed clues and misappropriated evidence
  • Evidence being thrown out in court
  • Higher editing costs and wasted revision time
  • Slow or inconsistent turnaround time

What to Look for in a Law Enforcement Transcription Service

When lives hang in the balance, you cannot trust a transcription job to just anybody. You have rely on a proven agency that can offer:

  • Subject Matter Expertise: DYS, DP, TOD, UNSUB—these are just a few of the abbreviations you will encounter working with a law enforcement agency. While a jack-of-all-trades transcriptionist could certainly give it a go, they are likely to struggle with the acronyms and phrases littering the conversation. For that reason, it is best to hire a transcriptionist with ample law enforcement experience. When getting your quote, you should inquire about the firms hiring requirements. Is everyone on staff familiar with the industry? How many years of law enforcement experience are required?
  • Confidentiality: There are rules about how police records must be stored, recorded, and handled. Confidentiality is key as is following all chain of custody rules. Before signing any kind of contract, ask your provider how they will ensure your files are kept secure and what they do to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Any transcription agency worth their salt should be willing to sign an NDA.
  • Personalization Options: Are you wanting a transcription with the “ums” or a clean one without the verbal hiccups? Are you wanting them to come back with your department’s logo on them? Do all your documents have to come certified? A good agency can adapt their processes to meet your needs. Make a list of what you are looking to have done and walk potential vendors through the list. The best provider is the one who can tick off the most boxes.
  • Accuracy: Recording the wrong dollar amount or mistyping a name can have consequences. That is why you need to hire an agency with a minimum accuracy rate above 98 percent. While no one’s perfect, this will get you very close. Also, take the opportunity to explore the transcriptionist’s editorial guidelines.
  • A Defined Process for Working with Difficult Content: Not all recordings are perfect. Some have white noise and others feature speakers with thick accents. A good transcription agency has a predefined way for dealing with these issues. When comparing your options, have your vendors outline how they deal with subpar audio.
  • Multilingual Capabilities: On many occasions you may need your content converted into a language other than the one it originally came from. Many transcription providers also offer translation and interpreting services. This makes them a one-stop-shop for everything record related.
  • Formatting Flexibility: Some officers record testimony on a cellphone. Others use the recording device in their patrol car, some are done in interview rooms at the station. Whatever the source, your law enforcement transcription company should be able to handle it. Outline the main formats you will be working with and any integrations you want. You do not want to be a week or two into a relationship and find out that your vendor can only handle 80 percent of your department’s work.
  • Quick Turnaround Times: Sometimes police work cannot wait. That is why it is vital to have a linguistics partner with 24/7 availability. If they can’t get your projects turned around when you need them, they are likely not the best transcriber for you.

About American Language Services

Since 1985, our company has worked diligently to become a go-to name in law enforcement transcriptions. Now, we are one of the largest, most successful language service providers, not just in the U.S., but worldwide. Our language experts provide a full range of language services in over 150 languages. And, because we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you’ll never have to worry that we won’t pick up the phone.

AML-Global possesses some of the most impressive law enforcement transcribers in the world. These highly skilled language professionals are recruited, screened, and tested to ensure high-quality work. Our stringent hiring requirements ensure that you will get the expertise you need, and when you need it.

By paying meticulous attention to detail, AML-Global has earned an outstanding reputation for providing cost-effective, high quality transcription services to people at all levels of law enforcement.

Contact us by email at or call 1-800-951-5020 for a free estimate.


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