Police 10 Codes Explained

Police 10 Codes Explained

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Brian Humenuk | Author | COPJOT

By Brian Humenuk, COPJOT  

Updated on August 2, 2023

3.5 minute read


In the difficulty but interesting world of law enforcement communication, efficiency and clarity are paramount.

Amidst the urgency of emergency situations and the need for swift coordination, police officers rely on a system of shorthand codes to convey critical information quickly and effectively.

One such system, known as "10 codes," has become synonymous with police radio communication worldwide.

These codes, originally developed for use by law enforcement agencies in the United States, have evolved into a standardized method of communication, facilitating seamless exchanges between officers, dispatchers, and other emergency responders.

In this article I am going to deep dive into Police 10 Codes, their history and explain as many of them as I possibly can to you.

You will want to read to the end of this article because I tell you about some 10 codes that you probably will not see on other websites.

If you are new to COPJOT and me as an author please check out my other articles here at the blog index.


If you are into law enforcement gear and equipment you will undoubtedly want to check out my master index of gear guides, tips and reviews.

Be sure to read my article "What does CODE 3 mean in Police Terminology? (Explained)" next.

what does code 3 mean in police terminology

What are Police 10 Codes?

Police Codes as they are often called are signals police officers, law enforcement officials, and government agencies use to talk in two-way radio communications to each other. The codes are numbers that correspond to words, phrases, and messages frequently used in law enforcement work.

Police officers in the field communicate with dispatch, secondary officers, supervisors, administration, support divisions, the local jail, and police agencies. Primarily, the codes help shorten communication and add a layer of secrecy. Plus, they help shield communications from the general public.

History of Police Code?

Police ten codes were developed between 1937-1940 by Charles Hopper, the communications director with the Illinois State Police and expanded in 1974 by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO). During this time the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials expanded the use of police radio codes to make them briefer and to standardize message traffic.

The radio code 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 radio transmissions. Meaning that someone must know the meaning of the signals to understand the discussion.

Official Police Ten Codes 

There is no genuinely universal or official set of police 10 codesTherefore, 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’s 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 using 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 use regular English during radio conversations to ensure communication clarity. This 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.

In addition, the meaning of the unique codes may vary between police officers and other public service units. For example, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), fire departments, and other law enforcement units.

10-4 Meaning Police

A Police 10 code that you will hear a lot amongst public service is 10-4 which means:

  • Message Recieved
  • OK
  • Affirmative
List of Police Ten Codes

Following is a list of some of the most common police codes. Again, it is essential to note that there is no universal set of police ten codes. Usage varies between departments, states, and agencies.

10 Code Meaning
10-1 Poor Reception
10-2 Good Reception
10-3 Stop Transmitting
10-4 Message Received, OK, Affirmative
10-5 Relay this information to
10-6 Officer is busy
10-7 Out of service, Unavailable
10-8 In-Service
10-9 Please repeat message
10-10 Negative or no, also off duty
10-10A Off duty at home
10-11 Dog or other animal case
10-12 Standby
10-13 Civilians present and listening
10-14 Prowler report
10-15 Enroute to station with suspect
10-16 Domestic problem
10-17 Meet complainant
10-18 Urgent matter
10-19 Return to station
10-20 Specify location
10-21 Place a phone call to
10-22 Disregard
10-23 Stand by on this frequency
10-24 Assignment completed
10-25 Report in person (meeting)
10-26 Detaining suspect
10-27 Vehicle registration request
10-28 Arrests/Warrants found on drivers license
10-29 Arrests/Warrants found on the vehicle
10-30 Unecessary use of police radio
10-31 Crime or criminal act in progress
10-32 Gun / Firearm
10-33 Emergency traffic / Hold routine messages
10-34 Radio frequency open / Cancels 10-33
10-35 Major crime alert
10-36 What is the correct time of day
10-37 Suspicious vehicle investigation
10-38 Suspicious vehicle stopped or stopping
10-39 False alarm, premises occupied
10-40 False alarm, premises appears secure
10-41 Beginning tour of duty
10-42 End of watch, ending tour of duty
10-43 Information
10-44 Permission to leave
10-45 Fueling police vehicle
10-46 Assist Motorist
10-47 Emergency road repair needed
10-48 Traffic standard repair needed
10-49 En route to an assignment
10-50 Accident
10-51 Tow truck needed
10-52 Ambulance needed
10-53 Road blocked at
10-54 Animals or livestock on highway
10-55 Security checked / Intoxicate driver
10-56 Intoxicated pedestrian
10-57 Hit and run accident or Property damage
10-58 Direct traffic
10-59 Escort
10-60 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 local 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 recieved
10-70 Prowler, fire alarm
10-71 Gun involved
10-72 Shooting
10-73 Smoke reported
10-74 Negative, no
10-75 In contact with (Name)
10-76 Officer en route, on the way
10-77 Estimated time of arrival (ETA)
10-78 Need assistance
10-79 Bomb threat or Notify Coroner
10-80 Bomb has exploded
10-81 Breathalyzer report
10-82 Reserve lodging
10-83 Work school crossing at
10-84 If meeting _____, advise ETA
10-85 Delay due to (reason)
10-86 Police officer on duty
10-87 Pickup
10-88 Look up persons phone number
10-89 Bomb threat
10-90 Bank alarm going off at
10-91 Picking up a prisoner
10-92 Improperly parked vehicle
10-93 Blockage
10-94 Drag racing
10-95 Suspect in custody
10-96 Psych patient / psychotic behavior
10-97 Scene arrived, Check signal
10-98 Prison or jail break
10-99 Wanted stolen record

The following is a list of Police Codes used by the Association of Police Communications Officers (ABCO) 

10 Code Meaning
10-0 Use caution
10-1 Weak signal
10-2 Signal good
10-3 Stop transmitting
10-4 Affirmative or OK
10-5 Relay to/from
10-6 Busy
10-7 Out of service
10-8 In service
10-9 Say again
10-10 Negative
10-11 On duty (employee number)
10-12 Stand by / stop
10-13 Weather conditions
10-14 Message / Information
10-15 Message Delivered
10-16 Reply to message
10-17 Enroute
10-18 Urgent
10-19 In Contact
10-20 Location
10-21 Call _______ by phone
10-22 Disregard
10-23 Arrive at scene
10-24 Assignment completed
10-25 Report to meet ______
10-26 Estimated time of arrival (ETA)
10-27 License / Permit information
10-28 Vehicle information
10-29 Records check
10-30 Danger / caution
10-31 Pick up
10-32 ______ Units needed
10-33 Need immediate assistance
10-34 Current time
10-40 Fight in progress
10-41 Beginning tour of duty
10-42 Ending tour of duty
10-43 In pursuit
10-44 Riot
10-45 Bomb threat
10-46 Bank alarm
10-47 Complete assignment quickly
10-48 Detaining suspect, expedite
10-49 Drag racing
10-50 Vehicle fire / F-Fire, PI-Personal injury, PD-Property damage
F,PI,PD F-Fire, PI-Personal injury, PD-Property damage
10-51 Dispatch wrecker
10-52 Dispatch ambulance
10-53 Road blocked
10-54 Hit and run accident
F,PI,PD F-Fire, PI-Personal injury, PD-Property damage
10-55 Intoxicated driver
10-56 Intoxicated pedestrian
10-57 Request BT Operator
10-58 Direct Traffic
10-59 Escort
10-60 Suspicious vehicle
10-61 Stopping suspicious vehicle
10-62 B and E in progress
10-63 Prepare to receive assignment
10-64 Crime in progress
10-65 Armed robbery
10-66 Notify Medical Examiner
10-67 Report of death
10-68 Livestock in roadway
10-69 Advise telephone number
10-70 Improper parked vehicle
10-71 Improper use of radio
10-72 Prisoner in custody
10-73 Mental subject
10-74 Prison / jail break
10-75 Wanted or stolen
10-76 Prowler
10-77 Direct traffic at fire scene
10-80 Fire Alarm
10-81 Nature of fire
10-82 Fire in progress
10-83 Smoke visible
10-84 No smoke visible
10-85 Respond without blue lights / sirens

What's a 187 police code?

187 in police code is slang for homicide or murder. The numbers represent the California penal codes for homicide.

End of Watch: Meaning in Police Code

"End of Watch" (EOW) is a term used in police code to denote the date and time when a law enforcement officer has passed away, either in the line of duty or due to other causes.

It is a solemn phrase that marks the officer's final shift.

This phrase honors the ultimate sacrifice made by fallen officers, marking the moment they are forever relieved from their service.

The term is often used in memorials, tributes, and ceremonies to pay respect to fallen officers, acknowledging their dedication and the ultimate price they paid while protecting their communities.

What is ADW in Police Code?

ADW in Police Code means Assault with a Dangerous or Deadly Weapon. You may hear this a lot if you are listening to a city police department on the police scanner.

What is a 10-46 Police Radio Code mean?

The general purpose of a 10 46 Police Radio Code is:

  • Assist Motorist
  • Motorist is in need of assistance

What is a 10-47 Police Radio Code mean?

The general purpose of a 10 47 Police Radio Code is:

  • Emergency road repair at _______.

What is a 10-54 Police Radio Code mean?

The general purpose of a 10 54 Police Radio Code can mean 

  • Possible Dead Body
  • Possible Fatality
  • Hit and Run Accident

What is a 10-72 Police Code?

The general purpose code for 10-72 is Report Progress on Fire. The APCO code for 10-72 is Prisoner in Custody.

What does 10-78 I got your 6 mean?

When you hear 10-78 I got your 6 it means that 10-78 is a call for assistance and 6 means or signifies that "I got your back." The officer is responding to the call for assistance and is telling the officer in trouble that he or she has their back.

What is the abbreviation for Sergeant?

The correct abbreviation for Sergeant is SGT.

I got your 6 in police jargon

The police jargon term "6" Comes from the old pilot system in which directions correspond to hours on the clock, where 12 o'clock is forward and 6 o'clock is behind.

When they say I have your six (6) it means I have your back.

Do cops use the phonetic alphabet?

Yes, Police Officers use the phonetic alphabet in order to clarify letters when the transmit information. This makes it easier on the receiver of the information to understand letters like I and Y or M and N. 

Letter Phonetic Pronunciation
A Alpha AL fah
C Charlie CHAR LE
D Delta DEL tah
E Echo ECK oh
F Foxtrot FOKS trot
H Hotel hoh TELL
I India IN dee ah
J Juliet JEW lee ET
K Kilo KEY loh
L Lima LEE mah
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 ah
T Tango TANG oh
U Uniform YOU neh form
V Victor VIK tah
W Whiskey WISS key
Y Yankee YANG key
Z Zulu ZOO loo


Acronyms Used by Cops 

The following are is a lost of commonly used acronyms used in police work. Unlike police codes many agencies consider these acronyms universally used amongst them and their neighboring police departments and state agencies.



ADA Assistant District Attorney
ADW Assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon
AKA Also Known As
AG Attorney General
ATF Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
B & E Break and Entering
BOLO Be on the lookout for
BOP Board of Probation
CDL Commercial Drivers License
CHP California Highway Patrol
CI Confidential Informant
CO Commanding Officer
DA District Attorney
DEA Drug Enforcement Agency
DL Drivers License
DOA Dead On Arrival
DOC Department of Correction
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
EOW End of Watch
FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation
FTA Failure to Appear
GTA Grand Theft Auto
OIS Officer Involved Shooting
PD Police Department
PTL Patrolman
POI Party of Interest
RHD Robbery Homicide Division
RP Reporting Party
SGT Sergeant
SO Sheriffs Office
SRT Special Response Team
SWAT Special Weapons and Tactics
VIN Vehicle Identification Number


About the Author

Brian Humenuk isn't just an entrepreneur in eCommerce, he is also an informed leader whose experience provides followers and visitors with a look into current and past police issues making headlines in the United States.

Brian has earned three degrees in Criminal Justice with the last, a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice Administration.

Brian extends his training, education, and experience to the officers just now getting into the field so that they may become more informed police officers and stay clear of police misconduct and corruption. 

You can find out more about Brian and the COPJOT story on the ABOUT US page.

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