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Learning Police Radio Jargon

By Edited Aug 9, 2016 0 2

Police radio jargon isn't always the same in each state. In fact, several agencies within each state can have their own ten code system. Several years ago, there was much discussion of making a single, nationwide ten code system for all law enforcement agencies. This really never materialized. There was talk of doing away with ten codes, making the way for police radio jargon to be replaced with straight forward speech, in other words, plain verbal communications. Most agencies are still using some form of police radio jargon, whether it is ten codes or other types of coded speech.

Getting ten codes:

As noted, many departments have different types of police radio jargon. Many counties rely on ten codes. While there is no universal ten code system, there are some ways you can find out what the codes are in your area.

1. Call or stop by your local state patrol headquarters and ask for a copy of ten codes. Some agencies will be willing to hand out this information, some will not. It really varies depending on the department. It's an easy way to learn police radio jargon.

2. Stop by a local Sheriff's office or PD to get a copy of ten codes, so you can begin to learn police radio jargon. Again, some agencies will not be willing to hand this out, so it may actually be wise to just call and ask.

3. Do an internet search to learn police radio jargon. You may very well be able to find a list of ten codes for your area.

4. Make some friends in law enforcement to learn police radio jargon. Most vehicles will have a copy of the ten codes inside, for quick reference.

5. Listening to your radio may be a very good way to learn police radio jargon. By simply listening to your scanner you'll be able to learn a lot, and you will slowly understand the lingo.

Some agencies use their own special codes as police radio jargon. There are typically different codes that are used for special purposes. Some agencies will use them as locations. Often called posts, stating something like, I'll be at post 21, is simply a location. Other agencies use codes to describe offenses. A code 5 may very well be an offense not included in the ten codes of the department. These types of things really vary, so it's important to learn the right police radio jargon for your area.


Contrary to what the movies and television would have you believe, there are no underground, top secret code words. Perhaps the biggest inaccuracy is the use of the word "perp." I've never heard it used during any banter on the scanner. Police radio jargon is interesting, not ridiculous.

Plain text:

As noted earlier, some agencies have considered going to plain text instead of ten codes to limit use of police radio jargon. Generally speaking, the agencies that have done this still have some limited uses of special codes. Still, it makes it easier for the average person to understand.



Jul 10, 2010 7:03pm
Great article! Thanks, Jason!
Dec 10, 2010 11:13am
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