Role of Speech Recognition Technology in Law Enforcement

by | Published on Jul 31, 2020 | Audio Transcription

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Speech Recognition

Good reporting and documentation are essential elements of law enforcement. Audio transcription services for law enforcement professionals involves providing accurate documentation of interviews, videos and dictated police reports in fast turnaround time. Today, speech recognition technology (SRT) is making police documentation workflows and processes much easier, while improving the safety and well-being of officers. With the SRT supporting the report creation process, incident reporting has become much easier, quicker, and more efficient. This also allows officers focus on policing.

The incident reports that the police officers create range from traffic stops, automobile accidents, and burglaries to domestic disturbances, and more. Good incident reporting is often considered indicative of good police work. However, a 2018 industry survey by Nuance revealed that police officers face many challenges when it comes to making incident reports ( The survey respondents included police chiefs and their command staff as well as IT and records management system staff within their departments. The poll findings are as follows:

  • Paperwork takes up over half of an officer’s average eight-hour shift
  • Up to 96 percent of respondents said that heavy reporting demands decrease the time they have for fighting crime and maintaining public safety
  • CAD and RMS systems help departments meet documentation demands and improve efficiency, but getting to and entering data is time-consuming as it involves multiple clicks
  • 58 percent of law enforcement professionals reported using combination of mobile and digital tools to help them complete incident reports, including digital voice recorders, mobile phones or tablets
  • 50 percent create incident reports by manually transcribing their own notes, which can be inefficient and detrimental to thorough, timely and accurate reporting
  • Over 77 percent reported that they would be interested in new technology that improve the efficiency of police paperwork

The study concluded that paperwork poses a significant challenge for law enforcement professionals. They spend most of their workday doing documentation which takes away time from valuable police work.

Embracing voice-enabled technologies could make incident reporting faster, safer and more efficient, according to an article in State Tech Magazine. There are specialized platforms custom-designed for law enforcement. They can provide high levels of accuracy, accommodate even speakers’ accents and environments with background noise, and help police departments complete reports quickly to meet their stringent reporting deadlines.

However, though speech recognition software has come a long way, it is prone to errors in some domains, which is the main barrier to its widespread adoption. Research has proven in the medical field. For instance, a study published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics found serious errors in physicians’ dictated notes. A Healthcare and Business Technology article listed the various types of errors in the documentation produced by speech recognition software:

  • annunciation errors
  • added words
  • deletions
  • homonyms
  • nonsense errors
  • spelling errors, and
  • suffix or dictionary errors

Such documentation errors can cause considerable confusion when reading notes, according to the report.

While the above example relates to healthcare, errors caused by voice recognition platforms used by law enforcement professionals can affect the quality of police department records. As a recent report published by notes, “Despite progress made possible by AI, voice recognition systems today are at best imperfect – and at worst discriminatory”. The report discusses a study commissioned by the Washington Post, which found that popular smart speakers made by Google and Amazon were 30% less likely to understand non-American accents than those of native-born users. Another example is the recent Algorithmic Justice League’s Voice Erasure project which suggests that speech recognition systems from Apple, Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft collectively provide word error rates of 35% for African American voices versus 19% for white voices.

These studies show why the correction of the transcription errors is very crucial to improve the speech recognition accuracy. The best way to do this is to have a digital transcription service provider check machine transcribed notes for mistakes. Companies that offer transcription services have expert transcriptionists on the job who can provide far more accurate results than machines. While speech recognition technology has the advantage of speed, human transcriptionists can deliver results that have 99% or more accuracy and superior clarity. Available at affordable rates, law enforcement transcription services can eliminate the need for in-house transcription and make report creation in police departments more streamlined and efficient.

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