How to Become a Police and Law Enforcement Transcriptionist


The demand for law enforcement transcriptionists has increased and continues to increase.

Audio and video can be evidence as part of an investigation. The transcription of these audios and videos provides documentation and clarity.

Law enforcement agencies, police departments, public defenders, prosecutors, attorneys and security companies need transcription of audio and video that is related to criminal investigations and evidence.

They have a large amount of caseloads and don’t have enough qualified staff to do transcription in-house.

New recording technology has increased the need for law enforcement transcription.

Today, police officers and law enforcement professionals can dictate and record traffic accidents and violations with digital recording devices. This has increased the amount of transcription needed.


Outsourcing digital video and audio is easier, faster and safer.

Many law enforcement agencies are outsourcing transcription to transcription companies and freelance transcriptionists.

Doing transcription work in-house is tedious and requires time and resources.

  • Outsourcing reduces overhead and cost. Outsourcing transcription costs less than keeping transcription in-house. It eliminates the need to hire additional staff or pay overtime to current staff, purchase extra software and hardware, and train employees to do transcription work.
  • Better use of staff. In-house transcription is very time-consuming for people who are not experienced in transcription.
  • Outsourcing transcription reduces workload and allows officers and staff to focus on their main responsibilities, important case work and tasks that better utilizes their expertise.
  • Faster turnaround. Outsourcing transcription provides faster turnaround time and helps to complete the transcripts on time.
  • Improved accuracy. A professional transcriptionist can provide more accurate transcripts than in-house staff that is not experienced in transcription.
  • Safe file transfer and tracking. Secure file transfer systems conveniently and instantly transfers digital files, encrypt files, protects confidentiality and keeps track of where the files are. Transmitting digital audio and video files via the Internet eliminates loss and damage of the recordings. The use of secure servers reduces security and confidentiality concerns.

Skills and Training

You do not have to be a court reporter to become a law enforcement transcriptionist and transcribe investigative interviews and interrogations. You do not need to be a medical transcriptionist either. Legal transcriptionists are best suited to do law enforcement transcription.

Performing law enforcement transcription and criminal justice transcription is more difficult and demanding than most general transcription jobs.

Transcription companies often require two+ years of legal work, including transcription and word processing experience to work as a law enforcement transcriptionist. Training in transcription may substitute part of the experience requirement.

Police transcriptionists must understand law enforcement procedures and language for the type of transcripts they’ll be working on

  • They must be familiar with a variety of files, including recorded statements, interrogations, accident reports, witness interviews, victim interviews, recorded police reports, wire taps, undercover recordings, crime scene investigations, and internal affairs investigations.
  • They must know the proper format of legal citations.
  • They must be familiar with legal pleadings, agreements, court headings, interrogatories and deposition summaries (if you’ll work on those types of transcripts).

Law enforcement transcription is not a job for newbies.

  • You must have verbatim and multi-speaker transcription experience.
  • Quick turnaround of transcripts may be required for some cases as delays can cause problems to law enforcement cases.
  • Accuracy and reliability are crucial.
  • Transcriptionists need to use a secure server to transfer audio and video files and the finished transcription files.
  • Some recordings of surveillance or interrogations can be of poor quality and time-consuming to transcribe.
  • You may also encounter a variety of accents, poeople who speak simultaneously and voices that are hard to hear.
  • Confidentiality is very important. Recordings are often confidential or contain sensitive information. Transcriptionists typically have to sign a confidentiality statement and must maintain confidentiality of all information received to do the transcription.
  • Law enforcement transcriptionists must usually undergo an extensive background investigation.

Career Options

  • One way to get law enforcement transcription work is by working for a transcription company that has those type of clients.
  • You can be self-employed and work directly for your own clients.
  • Legal transcriptionists can work as an employee in an office for individual lawyers, legal offices, consulting firms, police department, law enforcement agency and all levels of government.

Below is an example of the qualifications one transcription company requires to do law enforcement transcription for them.

Net Transcripts recruits law enforcement transcriptionists

Net Transcripts recruits vendors / independent contractors who can transcribe audio content of criminal investigations, internal affairs, and various law enforcement audios.

Requirements to work for Net Transcripts as a law enforcement transcriptionist:

  • You must be a citizen of the US and reside in the US.
  • You must type 80 words per minute.
  • You must have prior verbatim, multi-speaker transcription experience.
  • The most successful candidates will have experience transcribing multi-speaker audios for a law enforcement agency (police department, sheriff’s department, etc.) or court reporting experience, or similar. We may also consider other legal transcription experience.
  • You must have excellent grammar and proofreading skills.
  • You must provide 98% accuracy.
  • You must demonstrate strong computer literacy and be proficient with MS Word.
  • You must be able to open Excel documents (proficiency not needed).
  • You must be able to proficiently use Search Engines, a Web browser and email.
  • You must use good quality headphones (preferably noise canceling), and a foot pedal for audio play back.
  • You must be able to pass a full criminal background check.

Whether you want to transcribe full-time or part-time, Net Transcripts states that they have more than enough work to go around. There is an initial assessment period before any vendor is able to complete client work.

“The recordings you’ll transcribe include interviews, interrogations, witness statements, phone conversations, administrative hearings and more.”

“Turnarounds vary from same day to 5 business days. The majority of our orders are 3 business days. ”

I hope that this article gave you some information on what it takes to become a law enforcement transcriptionist and what the work entails.


Training in legal transcription is available from vocational schools, community colleges and online courses. Programs typically cover legal terminology, research and the formats used for pleadings, testimony and other documentation.

Training programs typically range from three to six months.  Online courses enable you to study at your own pace.  If you’re a paralegal, legal secretary or legal assistant, your learning curve will be shorter as you are already familiar with legal terminology, documents and conventions.

Janet’s legal transcription course includes a full chapter about law enforcement transcription.
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