Do you ever wonder how coded police talk came about?
Well, radios back in the day were anything but hi-fi, and few agencies had more than one channel to use. There were a lot of static and garbled transmissions. Air time was precious. In an effort to break through the interference, many agencies adopted brevity codes that were easily understood. Many codes started with a hard consonant, like “T,” to add punch to the spoken phrase. Some codes, such as “10-4,” made their way into the general lexicon through their use on TV shows like “Highway Patrol” and pop radio songs such as “Convoy.”
Although there are now plenty of radio channels available, today's officers still use these codes to keep communication succinct and somewhat secret to the public. Over the years, officers have also cultivated their own language, using certain phrases that only law enforcement officers would understand.
Below are some common phrases, acronyms and slang terms commonly heard throughout an officer's career. And because we know each department's terms differ, email us the ones we missed and we'll add them to the list.