‘Police interview transcripts in U.S. internal investigations: fit for purpose?’

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Joint paper with Collins Kane, Columbus Ohio Division of Police & MSc Forensic Linguistics Aston graduate. This project analysed the accuracy of interview transcripts used in internal police misconduct investigations. The main researcher is an investigator in a U.S. Police Internal Affairs Bureau. Agency transcripts and corresponding audio recordings were collected from two U.S. law enforcement agencies, to determine whether the transcripts are adequate representations of the speech events they purport to portray. Grounded in Conversation Analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis, the analysis focused on three linguistic features: overlapping speech, pauses, and punctuation. It considered their impact on the meaning conveyed, and whether the transcripts offered sufficient transparency for agencies investigating their own employees. This has particular significance since most internal investigations are reduced entirely to writing, with decisions based solely on such documents. Additionally, many citizen complaints about officer conduct come down to one person’s word against another’s, with little evidence beyond each side’s version of events when interviewed. The transcripts were found not to be adequate in these respects, containing misrepresentation and inconsistency. Transcription was found to add a layer of interpretation which is not visible or accessible to readers, leaving agencies open to accusations of bias. However, only minor changes in transcription practice could significantly improve their evidential quality and integrity.
Period5 Jul 2017
Event titleInternational Investigative Interviewing Research Group Annual Conference 2017
Event typeConference
LocationMonterey, United States, CaliforniaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational