What are Police 10 Codes?
Police 10 Codes are signals used by police officers, law enforcement officials, and government agencies to talk in two-way radio communications. The codes are numbers that correspond to words, phrases, and messages that are frequently used in law enforcement work. Also, variations of the codes are used by private citizens in Citizen’s Band (CB) radio transmissions.
Police officers are in constant communication with dispatch, other officers, support departments, the local jail, and county correctional facilities, and others. The codes help streamline communication and also add an element of secrecy. Plus, they help shield communications from the general public.
How did Police 10 Codes Originate?
Originally, Police 10 codes were used in the United States law enforcement community prior to the Second World War. In 1940, the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials (APC) published the first official set of police 10 codes. These radio signals were invented to help reduce the use of speech on the police radio. In addition, the codes enable a certain amount of privacy to the radio transmissions. Meaning, someone must know the meaning of the signals to understand the discussion.
In 1974, the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials expanded the use of the police radio codes to make them briefer and to standardize message traffic.
Official Set of Police Ten Codes
There is no truly universal or official set of police 10 codes. Therefore, the meaning of a particular scanner code or signal can vary between one police jurisdiction and another. For example, police departments in the state of California will likely use different codes and signals than the state of Florida, New York, or Texas.
At first, law enforcement ten signals were intended to be a concise, standardized system to help officers and officials talk on the radio. However, the proliferation of different meanings has rendered it somewhat useless. Most commonly, in situations where people from different agencies and jurisdictions need to communicate with one another.
In 2005, the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began discouraging the use of ten-codes and other law enforcement radio signals. This was due to their high variability in meaning between departments and agencies. Hence, the Department of Homeland Security may discontinue the use of the signals.
Many police departments around the country are using regular English during radio conversations to ensure clarity in communications. This actually makes things easier for the officer and dispatch. As a result, they don’t have to mentally refer back to the list of ten codes to decipher a transmission. However, this approach does eliminate any secrecy or privacy from the radio transmission.
Some organizations and municipalities also use other types of police radio codes. For example, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) uses “eleven-codes“, and the Port Authority Police use “eight codes”. They established these in an attempt to have a new and unique set of signals.
In addition, the meaning of the individual codes may vary between police officers and other public service units. For example, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), fire departments, and other law enforcement units.
List of Police 10 Codes
Following is a list of some of the most common police 10 codes. Again, it is important to note that there is no truly universal set of police 10 codes. Usage varies between departments, states, and agencies. If you are aware of any that we may have missed, please post a comment below.
10-1 = Poor reception
10-2 = Good reception
10-3 = Stop transmitting
10-4 = Message received, affirmative, OK
10-5 = Relay this information to (name of a person, officer, etc.)
10-6 = Officer is busy
10-7 = Out of service, unavailable
10-8 = In-service
10-9 = Please repeat (please repeat the message)
10-10 = Negative (no)
10- 11 = Dog case (or other animal)
10-12 = Standby
10-13 = Civilians present and listening (this let’s dispatch or others know not to disclose sensitive information)
10-14 = Prowler report
10-15 = En route to the station with suspect
10-16 = Domestic problem
10-17 = Meet complainant
10-18 = Urgent matter
10-19 = Return to the station
10-20 = Specify location/my location is (name of location)
10-21 = Place a phone call to (name of person)
10-22 = Disregard
10-23 = Stand by on this frequency (1023 also stands for “on the scene” in some areas)
10-24 = Assignment completed
10-25 = Please report in person (meeting)
10-26 = Detaining suspect
10-27 = Vehicle registration request
10-28 = Arrests / warrants found on driver’s license
10-29 = Arrests / warrants found on the vehicle
10-30 = Unnecessary use of police radio
10-31 = Crime or criminal act in progress
10-32 = Gun / firearm
10-33 = Emergency traffic follows, hold routine messages
10-34 = Radio Frequency open (cancels the 10-33 message)
10-35 = Major crime alert
10-36 = What is the correct time of day?
10-37 = Suspicious vehicle (investigate)
10-38 = Suspicious vehicle (stopping)
10-39 = False alarm, premises were occupied
10-40 = False alarm, no activity, premises appears to be secure
10-41 = Begin watch
10-42 = End of watch. The end of watch signal is used when an officer passes away. For instance, either in the line of duty or due to illness. The ceremony is typically conducted by the dispatcher issuing one last call to the officer, followed by a moment of silence.
10-43 = Information
10-44 = Permission to leave
10-45 = Fueling squad car / vehicle
10-46 = Provide motorist assistance
10-47 = Emergency road repair needed at
10-48 = Traffic standard repair needed at
10-49 = En route to an assignment
10-50 = Accident
10-51 = Tow truck needed
10-52 = Ambulance needed
10-53 = Road blocked at (name of location)
10-54 = Animals on the highway
10-55 = Security check (also used for an intoxicated driver)
10-56 = Intoxicated pedestrian
10-57 = Hit-and-run accident
10-58 = Direct traffic
10-59 = Escort
10-60 = Squad in the vicinity, lock-out
10-61 = Personnel in area
10-62 = Reply to message
10-63 = Clear to copy info?
10-64 = Message for delivery
10-65 = Net message assignment
10-66 = Net message cancellation
10-67 = Person calling for help
10-68 = Dispatch message
10-69 = Confirms message received
10-70 = Prowler, fire alarm
10-71 = Gun involved, advise nature of fire
10-72 = Shooting, fire progress report
10-73 = Smoke reported
10-74 = Negative, no
10-75 = In contact with (name)
10-76 = Officer is en route / on the way
10-77 = Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA), amount of time until
10-78 = Need assistance
10-79 = bomb threat
10-80 = Bomb has exploded
10-81 = Breathalyzer report
10-82 = Reserve lodging
10-83 = Work school crossing at (location)
10-84 = If meeting _, please advise ETA
10-85 = Delay due to (reason)
10-86 = Police officer on-duty
10-87 = Pickup
10-88 = Please lookup the present phone number of (person)
10-89 = Bomb threat
10-90 = Bank alarm going off at (location)
10-91 = Picking up a prisoner
10-92 = Improperly parked vehicle
10-93 = Blockage
10-94 = Drag racing
10-95 = Prisoner/subject is in custody
10-96 = Psych patient, a person exhibiting crazy or psychotic behavior
10-97 = Check signal (1097 also means “On Scene” in California and other areas)
10-98 = Prison break or jailbreak
10-99 = Wanted/stolen record
Other Police 10 codes
10-100 = Dead body found
10-101 = What is your status?
10-106 = Secure
10-200 = Alarm
10-999 = Officer down / officer needs help immediately. This is an SOS alert that requires immediate attention. In a situation where an officer is down, all available units will respond.
Note: These are sometimes in the format “code number” instead of using the number 10. For example, in some situations, the officer wouldn’t say, “I’m 10-7”, meaning they are “out of service.” Rather, the officer would simply say, “code seven.” Again, the style of usage may vary by department.
List of Police Scanner Codes
Following is a sample list of police scanner codes. Remember, these can vary by department, city, and geographic area.
187 = Homicide
207 = Kidnapping (207a is a kidnapping attempt)
211 = Robbery (also, the 211a scanner code means robbery with alarm, 211s is with silent alarm)
217 = Assault with intent to murder
5150 = Mental case
10851 = Auto theft / stolen vehicle
10852 = Tampering with vehicle
20001 = Hit and run – Felony
20002 = Hit and run – Misdemeanor
20007 = Hit and run – Unattended
21958 = Drunk pedestrian on the roadway
22350 = Speeding
22500 = Illegal parking
23101 = Drunk driving – with injuries
23102 = Drunk driving
23103 = Reckless driver
23104 = Reckless driver
23105 = Driver under the influence of narcotics
23109 = Auto Racing
23110 = Person throwing objects at vehicles
23151 = Drunk driving – with injuries
23152 = Drunk driver
In addition to numerical scanner codes, departments may assign a meaning to a color (e.g. blue, red, purple, etc.). For example, in some departments, Code Blue means “emergency situation”, similar to its use in hospitals. Also, Code purple means “gang activity”. As with the others, there is not a universal standard for color codes.
Use of the Phonetic Alphabet in Radio Communication
The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation that is based primarily on the Latin alphabet. The International Phonetic Association developed the Phonetic Alphabet to standardize the representation of the sounds of spoken language.
The Phonetic Alphabet is used by police officers, cops, military officials, and even private investigators and civilians during radio communications. These individuals use the alphabet to ensure clear communication when they talk with other cops, dispatch or other officials. For example, the alphabet is used when communicating a description of a subject, a tag number, or a street address. It is often used in radio communication.
Military Phonetic Alphabet
Officers may use the military phonetic alphabet when talking on the radio. Use of the military phonetic alphabet helps ensure all parties understand the correct spelling of names, streets, buildings, etc. Following is a table explaining the letters of the phonetic alphabet and their pronunciation:
A = Alpha (AL fah)
B = Bravo (BRAH VOH)
C = Charlie (CHAR lee)
D = Delta (DELL tah)
E = Echo (ECK oh)
F = Foxtrot (FOKS trot)
G = Golf (GOLF)
H = Hotel (hoh TELL)
I = India (IN dee ah)
J = Juliett (JEW lee ETT)
K = Kilo (KEY loh)
L = Lima (LEE mah)
M = Mike (MIKE)
N = November (no VEM ber)
O = Oscar (OSS cah)
P = Papa (pah PAH)
Q = Quebec (keh BECK)
R = Romeo (ROW me oh)
S = Sierra (see AIR rah)
T = Tango (TANG go)
U = Uniform (YOU nee form
V = Victor (VIK tah)
W = Whiskey (WISS key)
X = X-Ray (ECKS RAY)
Y = Yankee (YANG key)
Z = Zulu (ZOO loo)
Civilian Phonetic Alphabet
Following is a version of the phonetic alphabet used by civilians:
- A = Adam
- B = Boy
- C = Charles
- D = David
- E = Edward
- F = Frank
- G = George
- H = Henry
- I = Ida
- J = John
- K = King
- L = Lincoln
- M = Mary
- N = Nora
- O = Ocean
- P = Paul
- Q = Queen
- R = Robert
- S = Sam
- T = Tom
- U = Unicorn
- V = Victor
- W = William
- X = X-Ray
- Y = Yellow
- Z = Zebra
List of Acronyms Used by Cops During Police Work
Additionally, officers may use acronyms to shorten communications. Following are some of the most commonly used acronyms and terms (we’re still building this part of our list, so if you know of any others, please leave a comment below):
- ADW = Assault with a Deadly Weapon
- AKA = Also Known As
- AG = Attorney General
- ATF = Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms
- B & E – Breaking and Entering
- BOLO = Be On the Lookout
- CHP = California Highway Patrol
- CRT = Code Response Team
- CI = Confidential Informant
- CO = Commanding Officer
- DA = District Attorney
- DEA = Drug Enforcement Agency
- DL = Driver’s License
- DOA = Dead On Arrival
- DOC = Department of Corrections
- DMV = Department of Motor Vehicles
- DEA = Drug Enforcement Administration
- DOB = Date Of Birth
- DUI = Driving Under the Influence
- DWI = Driving While Intoxicated
- ETA = Estimated Time of Arrival (also used in general to mean “how much time”)
- EOW = End of Watch
- FBI = Federal Bureau of Investigation
- FTA = Failure To Appear
- GTA – Grand Theft Auto
- OIS = Officer-Involved Shooting
- PD = Police Department
- PnP = Party in Play. Most often refers to a party in progress that involves drug use such as meth or ecstasy.
- RHD = Robbery Homicide Division
- RP = Reporting Party
- SRT = Special Response Team
- SWAT = Special Weapons And Tactics
- VIN = Vehicle Identification Number
Other Types of Codes and Signals
Occasionally, departments may use coded names and terms to specify a unit that covers a particular geographic area, such as Patrol 1, Patrol 2, etc. For example, the code name “Patrol 1” might be associated with a particular beat, or a certain section of a city, town, etc.
In other cases, there may be a special designation for supervisors, motorcycle units, swat teams, or even marine units.
Also, departments may use coded names as a representation for different segments, such as Squad 1, Unit 1, Team 3, etc. These may be used to indicate the particular group that is responding to a call or the squad that is on the scene of a crime.
Amateur Radio Operators
Amateur radio Ham operators do not use ten-codes. Instead, they use something called Q codes, which are derived from Morse code. The use of ten codes is highly discouraged in amateur Ham radio use, especially among seasoned professionals. However, they are sometimes used by novice operators.
Questions, Comments, and Suggestions
If you have any questions about police ten codes, or if you’re looking for the meaning of something in particular, please leave a comment below. Also, if you’d like to take this information with you in a PDF eBook, please visit the books section.
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