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How Can Criminal Justice Handle Digital Evidence Efficiently?

By Osama Zahid
digital evidence for criminal justice and law enforcement

In the contemporary world, digital evidence plays a huge role in the criminal justice system. Digital evidence helps law enforcement agencies present criminal cases in court and ultimately help solve crimes. The number of digital media is increasing exponentially, especially in the post-pandemic world where everything is moving online. Today law enforcement agencies and county police must handle petabytes of data that could serve as potential digital evidence for criminal justiceThe blog discusses the challenges criminal justice systems face regarding digital evidence and how VIDIZMO can be deployed to make handling digital evidence easier.  


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What are the current problems faced by criminal justice systems in handling digital evidence?   

According to research by RAND Corporation, the Police Executive Research Forum and the University of Denver, law enforcement officers unanimously agreed that a considerable quantity of evidence was analyzed by examiners and faced challenges in the form of funding and staffing. The research also found that departments are behind the curve in handling digital evidence due to the ever-increasing use of digital devices to capture evidence, lack of training, and budgetary issues. Additionally, criminal justice stakeholders such as prosecutors, judges, juries and defense attorneys face potential difficulties in understanding elements of digital evidence, with defense attorneys facing the most difficulty.   

Digital evidence also contains sensitive information which may or may not be directly related to the suspect. It is essential for criminal justice and law enforcement agencies to adhere to compliance requirements such as GDPR and CCPA that demand a certain level of privacy for citizens. There might be a need to redact evidence to hide some faces from a video or silence names in a phone call recording before turning it into discovery evidence which can be shared back and forth amongst the relevant stakeholders in criminal justice. It is also essential that privacy is maintained between different stakeholders involved within a case. An authorized user from another department may threaten the integrity of the evidence even if the personnel is associated with a law enforcement agency.    

Furthermore, the security challenges of working with digital evidence are increasing, especially as each challenge is relatively new and requires a different solution. The departments have an overwhelming evidence backlog and a lack of consensus on how to process digital evidence. Furthermore, agencies have to adhere to specific data retention and privacy policies as far as digital evidence storage is concerned. To solve the challenges mentioned above, having an efficient system has become the need of the hour.  

  

What does a criminal justice system need to manage digital evidence?  

Evidence management solutions provide a consolidated platform to resolve contemporary law enforcement and criminal justice agencies' challenges dealing with digital evidence. With VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS), you can securely store, manage and share ever-increasing amounts of digital evidence in a centralized repository. There is a need to associate the name of a person with a particular digital content. Inside VIDIZMO DEMS, each officer can have a separate folder under their respective names, making accessibility easier.   

Recognized in IDC MarketScape*, VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS) streamlines the process of securing, managing, searching, analyzing, and sharing ever-increasing digital evidence.

 

Why is VIDIZMO Digital Evidence Management System One Of the Best?  

VIDIZMO offers a digital evidence management system that allows you to store, manage and share videos, audio, images, documents and other types of digital evidence. Explicitly designed to make the work of government and law enforcement agencies easier, VIDIZMO automatically ingests all types of digital evidence from sources such as CCTV, body-worn cameras and dashcams, and enables you to securely share evidence with various stakeholders involved in criminal justice. VIDIZMO DEMS transcribes video evidence to improve accessibility, allows protection of personally identifiable information by redaction, and flexible deployment options to store evidence on-premises, on a government cloud or in a hybrid infrastructure. In short, each of the features in VIDIZMO is designed to make work more straightforward and improve the criminal justice system.      

With digital portals, VIDIZMO helps prosecutors, public defenders, and other criminal justice stakeholders eliminate the costs, risks and time investment associated with using traditional DVDs and USBs to carry evidence. Criminal justice stakeholders can seamlessly collect & share evidence, streamline the discovery process, maintain chain of custody and redact evidence for presenting cases in court. Let’s analyze the features of DEMS that can prove to be advantageous for the criminal justice system:  

Automatic Transcription and Translation  

Transcribing video and audio evidence into legal transcripts is an essential task in the criminal justice process. From presenting evidence in court to making appeals, legal transcripts come in handy for many reasons. In some courts, stakeholders are legally obligated to provide transcripts, and they need to be accurate and kept secure for admissibility in court. That's why law enforcement officers and other county stakeholders in the criminal justice system seek out legal transcription services for criminal justice proceedings.  

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Law enforcement officers require an original court copy and an editable copy for court proceedings and legal purposes. VIDIZMO offers the option of downloading the editable version. The language inside digital evidence might be different from English, which creates a need for translation for law enforcement officers to comprehend. VIDIZMO provides the option of translation in up to 50 languages, which makes officers' lives easier and saves resources by eliminating the need to have an internal transcription team. VIDIZMO DEMS provides the option of timed data which assists in extracting each scene inside the video and associating a timestamp with it. The feature is a game-changer when it comes to saving time for officers.   

Many criminal justice and law enforcement agencies use automatic and manual legal transcription services to increase their efficiency and results. Automatic transcription helps quickly transcribe large amounts of files, while manual transcription can ensure the appropriate transcription of terminology and overall transcript accuracy. VIDIZMO DEMS provides both automatic and manual transcription for all audio and video files. You can automatically transcribe your media within moments when uploading files and leverage manual legal transcription services directly through VIDIZMO for 100% accuracy, such as legal jargon missed by the program.    

Redaction  

One of the essential features for criminal justice is redaction, which in simple words, is hiding sensitive data such as faces/objects inside digital evidence and trimming video to ensure privacy for individuals. Redaction is also necessary for legal compliance, such as CCPA, GDPR etc. VIDIZMO helps ensure the highest level of security by allowing you to leverage a broad range of features for CJIS compliance by maintaining security standards through access and permissions, multiple authentication controls, auditing and other functions. Additionally, VIDIZMO allows you to deploy the system in the Azure Government Cloud or AWS GovCloud.   

redaction

When dealing with content containing sensitive information such as digital evidence, privacy is of utmost importance. Whether sharing the evidence with another party or presenting information in court, certain information such as PII needs to be redacted before sharing it with others. At times people involved in criminal justice need to focus on menial tasks such as manual redaction. VIDIZMO provides an auto-detection feature that automatically identifies all the faces and bodies that need to be redacted and saved as a single file. You can also redact whole bodies instead of just faces. Attorneys need to redact evidence for privacy and security reasons, such as to hide personally identifiable information (PII) and meeting various compliances such as GDPR and CCPA during discovery. With VIDIZMO, lawyers don't need to leverage a separate system or services for redacting evidence. 

Reduce Time, Costs & Risks on Collecting & Sharing Evidence  

Collecting and sharing evidence is a time-consuming task. In the previous days, files were shared using hard drives and USB that involved more people, consequently increasing the costs and risks associated with handling evidence. Instantly sharing digital evidence with different stakeholders is vital for criminal justice and there must be some way of sharing it online using autonomous digital portals. Luckily, with VIDIZMO evidence and users can be segregated. Additionally, digital evidence can be shared for limited time or views and the feature of role-based access control can be used to manage access at a granular level.  

Tracking Evidence and Ensuring Its Credibility  

A complete chain of custody is vital to track all events against digital evidence and ensuring its useful for criminal justice (i.e being admissible in court). VIDIZMO records all user activity against each piece of evidence to maintain a complete chain of custody and ensure its authenticity to present the evidence in court. A complete audit log on the online portal is simply a click away because of which worries related to tampering of evidence can be set aside.   

 

VIDIZMO’s Additional Features That Can Help Criminal Justice Handle Digital Evidence:   

  1. Multi-Format Support  
  2. Facial & Object Detection
  3. End-to-End Encryption  
  4. Search by Faces, Tags and Spoken Words  
  5. Tamper Detection  
  6. Geospatial Mapping for Drones  

Learn More

What Did We Learn? 

To sum up, digital evidence has become an inseparable part of criminal justice systems. Suppose today, law enforcement and counties are faced with handling a huge amount of digital evidence. In that case, the challenge is only going to grow in the coming years since digital devices and the media collected through it are only going to increase. If criminal justice is facing the growing challenges related to staffing and budget associated with handling digital evidence, now is the right time to invest in a digital evidence management system. It will make solving crimes easier and yield the goal of creating safer societies in the future. Learn how VIDIZMO DEMS can help you achieve the goal. Now is the time to act!         

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Posted by Osama Zahid

Tags: Digital Evidence Management, Law Enforcement Today, criminal justice

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