Glossary of terms on police channels?

Status
Not open for further replies.

captclint

Mentor
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 31, 2005
Messages
2,449
Location
Mountaintop, PA

SteveC0625

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 24, 2009
Messages
2,574
Location
Northville, NY (Fulton County)
Is the police "vocabulary" of terms (codes) universal, and if so where can I find it? Or is the language different PD to PD?
Thanks in advance,
Cal
The trend is towards plain language in all emergency services, but some agencies are still holdouts. If you hear a department using "10" codes, you'll want to reach out to someone local and get a list of their definitions. Some are universal; 10-4 means affirmative or acknowledge or yes pretty much everywhere in the US, but beyond that, it's all local preference.

Plain language can have some variations. Perps, perpetrators, suspects, subjects all pretty much mean the bad guys, but those words can be very department specific. We had a transfer officer from NYC who kept telling us about "perps". Half of our dispatchers didn't know what he meant the first time around. Same with asking for a "buggy" which is slang for an ambulance. Some areas use the slang, others don't.

As a career dispatcher, I always preferred to stay away from slang, and tried to set the example for other dispatchers and units in the field. It was tough when 10 codes were abolished locally; lots of old habits to unlearn. A few officers were pretty stubborn about it, and as the years went by and we had more and more dispatchers who never learned the 10 codes, it got terribly apparent that saying: "I'll be out with a bad 10-50." was guaranteed to get a "What do you mean?" from any newer dispatchers. (10-50 is a motor vehicle accident.) Even the newer police officers had to ask the old timer to translate.

There are also some local code words that have evolved, and that is something that you'll have to learn about on a local level. To me, a Code 99 is a confirmed airplane crash involving more than just a couple of victims. In other areas, it could mean almost anything.

There are some glossaries of police, fire, and ems terms out there so some Goggle searching will point the way.

Locating a scanner enthusiast locally is a good idea as he or she may already have such a list.

Legal terms will vary from state to state because of different laws, too, and cops like to use legal terminology.

If you hear something you don't understand, and there is no local person to answer your question, ask in this forum. Someone will likely know, or be able to make an educated guess.
 

calpalmer

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2009
Messages
22
Location
Pierce County, Washington
Thanks guys... I'm a little familiar with the old 10-codes. I've been hearing non-10 numerical codes, e.g., "I'm code-4" etc. I'm thinking I'll pick them up over time. Thanks,
Cal
 

gmclam

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Sep 15, 2006
Messages
5,379
Location
Fair Oaks, CA
Are they still using "4 Bell" in Tacoma? Tacoma is the only place that has used this code, a carry-over from the horse and buggy days. California uses Code 3 instead.

To answer your original question, there really is no standard. Even 10 codes have different definitions past 10-4. There is a lot of "local slang" for things as one agency will use the major letters to abbreviate a major street, highway, hospital or whathaveyou. For example "PCH" is Pacific Coast Highway, EGF can be Elk Grove Florin and STW can be South Tacoma Way.

There is supposed to be a place in the Wiki section where people can share all they know on this topic. Here is a link to the one for Washington State.
 

georgew0819

Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2006
Messages
116
Location
Salisbury, NC
Police codes

You also might want to check the page where the feed notes are located like Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth Police Live Scanner Audio Feed. Some of the feed providers put information specific to the feeds they provide such as frequencies and codes there.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some Officers will abbreviate thier agencies codes. An example of this can be found at the above link. In Middletown RI instead of saying "Code 700" for a theft they will just say "respond for a 700" or "I'll be out with at (location) with a 700".

And all agencies at the above link will abbreviate the 10 codes as well saying "I need a 28,29" when asking for a registration or license check and warrants.
 

trumpetman

Member
Database Admin
Joined
Mar 24, 2007
Messages
1,683
Location
Charlotte, NC
The one random thing that I'm still trying to figure out is what PVA/PBA stands for. I know it's a parking lot, but what on earth does it stand for?
 

jmp883

Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2005
Messages
590
Location
Northern NJ
It won't be hard for you to figure things out. This website is a great resource, of course, but just listening for a short time will help you figure things out.

I've been a dispatcher for 18 years now and we use a mix of 10-codes, numerical signals, and plain speech. When I dispatch a Signal 41 and then tell the officers that the location is the front door motion detector or picture window glass break sensor you can be pretty sure that a 41 is a burglar alarm. Or that when you hear me dispatching officers and emt's on a 10-30 request and then telling them that it's for a possible heart attack you can be fairly certain that a 10-30 is an ambulance request. You'll pick things up a lot quicker than you might think, but that's part of the fun of monitoring.

Enjoy :p!
 

SteveC0625

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 24, 2009
Messages
2,574
Location
Northville, NY (Fulton County)
The one random thing that I'm still trying to figure out is what PVA/PBA stands for. I know it's a parking lot, but what on earth does it stand for?
PBA might be the Police Benevolent Association.

Up here, PVA could be Pittsford Volunteer Ambulance or Penfield Volunteer Ambulance. A local might figure that out depending on which district cars are having the conversation. Another local slang/abbreviation example.

Context matters as several have already pointed out. When the dispatcher and field units are calm, cool, and collected referring to some code word, you can be pretty sure it's not a crisis type incident. When everyone is a bit ruffled and speaks too fast, it's likely that they are dealing with something serious.

Good police dispatchers learn to "keep their cool" under the most stressful situations. A frazzled dispatcher quickly translates to frazzled officers on the street. I always told my dispatch classes, "You're getting there when you can dispatch a shooting or stabbing in the same calm, relaxed manner that you dispatch a parking complaint."

Point being that you'll quickly learn to recognize differences between dispatchers. That, in turn, helps you figure out local codes and code words.

The more you listen, the easier it is to decipher things. If the dispatcher sends a car to an intersection for a "10-50" and a few minutes later the officer cancels the "buggy" and asks for two "hooks", you can pretty much guess it was for a traffic accident. Once on scene, the officer determined that the ambulance was not needed, but he does need tow trucks.
 

jclarkr6

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2007
Messages
155
Location
Coles County, Illinois
Wikipedia has a decent page about 10-codes that lists each 10-code and gives several possible meanings for what each code can stand for. The list is by no means 100% accurate, but it has helped me to figure out what a few 10-codes stand for in my local area. After hearing an unfamiliar 10-code, I will look it up in Wikipedia and then use context clues (from what I heard on the radio) to figure out what the unknown 10-code might mean. Obviously, the information on each county's RR homepage relating to 10-codes is the best place to find such information. However, when RR is unable to help me with a 10-code, I have found that this Wikipedia page can be useful: Ten-code - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

ka3jjz

Wiki Admin Emeritus
Joined
Jul 22, 2002
Messages
22,053
Location
Bowie, Md.
I and others moved a TON of 10 code listings into our wiki in the collaboration area. It's not every community in every state, to be sure, but damn, there were a LOT of them!

To get to the collaboration area, float your mouse over wiki in the blue toolbar under the Scanner Master logo, and select it from the pulldown. Select your state, then go to the counties page to find your county. A bit of drill down, to be sure, but if we had it in the database, this is where you will find it.

73 Mike
 

calpalmer

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2009
Messages
22
Location
Pierce County, Washington
Wow, thanks Mike! I didn't realize what that Collaboration area was... lots of helpful stuff, so I'll be returning there frequently as I get my feet on the ground. On the codes, what I was asking about is terminology like "code 4" rather than ten-codes.
Cal
 

trumpetboy50

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 16, 2009
Messages
42
Location
Mesa, AZ
On the codes, what I was asking about is terminology like "code 4" rather than ten-codes.
Cal
As far as the Overland Park police go, a code-4 is the same as everything is under control. They might also answer "we're 10-4". As mentioned, everything is relative per department.
 

ka3jjz

Wiki Admin Emeritus
Joined
Jul 22, 2002
Messages
22,053
Location
Bowie, Md.
Unfortunately we don't have that information for Pierce County, but if someone were to supply it, you'd find it in that county's collaboration page.

Wish I could help with that, but perhaps someone in the Washington forum can. There are 2 or 3 Yahoo groups for your area, and that too might be a source of information about that. Those would be found on the Washington collaboration article. 73 Mike
 

SteveC0625

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 24, 2009
Messages
2,574
Location
Northville, NY (Fulton County)
As far as the Overland Park police go, a code-4 is the same as everything is under control. They might also answer "we're 10-4". As mentioned, everything is relative per department.
In Monroe County, NY we used disposition codes to clear jobs. For example, a written report was a Code-1. An motor vehicle accident report was a Code-2. Gone-on-arrival was a code-12 and so on. When the officer gave the dispatcher his "code", he was also clearing the job and available for assignment.

Even within our own county, a couple of the departments had minor variations on "code" definitions. That did not matter to us because we just wrote the code on the job card and time-stamped it "back-in-service."

When we moved to CAD, the same thing applied. The officer gave a code on the radio, the dispatcher typed the code into the computer closing out and showing the officer available for assignment.

When they added MDT's (and later laptop PC's) to the police cars, the officer typed in his own codes, but the net result was the same.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top