You're watching your favorite police show, and an officer calls in a 10-34 over the radio. What are they talking about? If it's an intense crime drama, they may have just reported a riot. If it's a more mundane scene, then they could have just asked what the correct time is. While the interpretation of a specific code can vary from area to area, in both cases, the use of police codes has gotten the point across quickly.
These codes were originally created by The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO). They are a shorthand of sorts intended to facilitate communication over police radios. While they are typically thought of as being associated with police, other emergency personnel also use similar systems.
Police codes usually involve combinations of numbers, with numbers starting with a 10 or 11 referring to situations and other numbers being used for specific crimes. There are also some codes that use letters, much like acronyms.
Just about everyone has heard of "10-4," meaning "OK," or "message received." Here are a few more police codes:
- 10-15 — prisoner in custody
- 10-85 — will be late
- 11-10 — take a report
- 187 - homicide
- 311- indecent exposure or loud and obscene
- 459 - burglary
- 502 — drunk driving
- APB — All points bulletin
- DB — dead body
- UL — unable to locate
Again, exact definitions of police codes can vary, but now you can be a bit more informed the next time you hear the jargon. Some people like to use scanners to listen to police radio broadcasts. It can simply be an entertaining hobby, or in some cases it makes people feel more secure because they know exactly where crimes are being committed in their area. Make sure you're aware of all local laws and regulations concerning police scanners before you decide to listen in for fun.