Police and Emergency Radio Codes

You’ve probably heard them used on TV shows and Movies (e.g. “That’s a big 10-4, Bandit.” Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983)), and if you’re in law enforcement, you probably use them every day. Ten Codes (10-Codes), Eleven Codes (11-Codes), Emergency Response Codes, Vehicle Codes and Penal Codes are just a few of the different types of radio short codes used by police, fire, and other emergency services.
 
One of the things I’ve learned when doing a little research on this topic is that the codes, mostly 10 and 11 codes, are not standard across all departments. It’s up to each department to setup the codes they want to use and what those codes mean. Most departments seem to stick to a similar code set, but there are definitely some slight modifications made to fit the departments needs.
 
Below you will find some basic 10-Codes, 11-Codes, and some Emergency Response Codes. Just remember, in your area, they could be a little different… But hopefully this will give you a decent understanding and a base to work off of.
 

10-Codes (Ten Codes)

There is a rather long list of 10-codes. They were originally designed, from what I’ve read, to help protect officers by helping to semi-secure the information they are transmitting. This security is obtained by using codes to obscure some of the details of the messages to only those “in the know”. Obliviously with the internet and modern communication technologies, simple security via obscurity doesn’t really work, but sometimes it does.
 

Code Description
10-1 Poor Reception
10-2 Good Reception
10-3 Stop Transmitting
10-4 Message Received / Understood
10-5 Relay Message
10-6 Change Channel
10-7 Out of Service
10-8 In Service
10-9 Repeat Message
10-10 Off Duty
10-11 Send Cover | Identify Frequency
10-12 Visitor(s) Present
10-13 Weather / Road Advice
10-14 Citizen w/ Suspect
10-15 Prisoner in Custody
10-16 Pick-Up
10-17 Request for Fuel
10-18 Equipment Exchange
10-19 Return/Returning to Station
10-20 Location
10-21 Telephone
10-22 Cancel / Disregard
10-23 Stand By
10-24 Request Car-to-Car Transmit
10-25 Do You Have Contact With
10-26 Clear
10-27 Wanted | D.D.L. Report
10-28 Vehicle Registration Request
10-29 Warrant / Want Check
10-30 Doesn’t Conform to Regulations
10-32 Drowning
10-33 Alarm Sounding
10-34 Open Door/Window | Assist at Office
10-35 Time Check
10-36 Confidential Information
10-37 Identify Operator
10-39 Status Check | Can ___ Come to the Radio?
10-40 Is ____ Available for a Phone Call?
10-42 Welfare Check
10-43 Call a Doctor
10-45 Condition of Patient
10-49 Proceed To
10-50 Traffic Accident
10-51 Drunk / Intoxicated
10-52 Resuscitator
10-53 Man Down
10-54 Possible Dead Body
10-55 Coroner Case
10-56 Suicide
10-57 Missing Person
10-59 Security Check
10-60 Lock-Out
10-61 Misc. Public Service
10-62 Meet a Citizen
10-63 Prepare to Copy a Message
10-64 Found Property
10-66 Suspicious Person
10-67 Person Calling for Help
10-68 Telephone for Police
10-70 Prowler
10-71 Shooting
10-72 Gun Involved | Knifing
10-73 How do you Receive?
10-76 En rout to __
10-77 ETA
10-78 Request Assistance
10-79 Bomb Thread
10-80 Explosion
10-81 Breathalyzer Report
10-82 Reserved lodgings
10-83 School Crossing Assignment
10-86 Any Radio Traffic (for)?
10-87 Meet
10-88 Assume Post
10-90 Bank Alarm
10-91 Animal (Stray)
10-95 Need ID Tech Unit
10-97 Arrived
10-98 Available to Assign | Finished Last Assignment

* Many 10-codes are augmented with letter designations. These designations help break down the code into more detail, for example, 10-7B could be Out of Service, Break, or 10-7M Out of Service, Meal. So there are a lot of possibilities here and they differ widely between departments.

This information was gathered from multiple local, and online sources ([1,2]).

 

11-Codes (Eleven Codes)

Along with the 10-Codes, there is a set of 11-Codes; these codes are generally associated with traffic related items, and seem to be more “standard” between departments. That being said, there is still some variation between departments.
 

Code Description
11-10 Take Report
11-24 Abandoned Vehicle
11-25 Traffic / Vehicle Hazard
11-26 Abandoned Bicycle
11-27 Drivers License Check – Driver Held
11-28 Registration Request – Driver Held
11-40 Advice if Ambulance Required
11-41 Ambulance Needed
11-42 No Ambulance Needed
11-44 Coroner Required
11-48 Furnish Transportation
11-51 Escort
11-52 Funeral Detail
11-53 Roads Blocked
11-54 Suspicious Vehicle
11-55 Officer Being Followed
11-56 Office Being Follower By Dangerous Person
11-57 Unidentified Auto
11-58 Radio Monitored, Use Phone
11-59 High Hazard Area
11-60 Attack in High Hazard Area
11-65 Signal Light Out
11-66 Defective Signal Light
11-78 Aircraft Accident
11-79 Accident – Ambulance Sent
11-80 Accident – Major Injuries
11-81 Accident – Minor Injuries
11-82 Accident – No Injuries
11-83 Accident – No Detail
11-84 Traffic Control
11-85 Tow Truck Required
11-94 Pedestrian Stop
11-95 Routine Traffic Stop
11-96 Checking Suspicious Vehicle
11-97 Time / Security Check on Patrol
11-98 Meet
11-99 Officer Needs Assistance (CODE 3, Emergency)

This information was gathered from multiple local, and online sources ([1,2]).

 

Emergency Response Codes

There is also a wide variety of Emergency Response Codes. The usage of them also varies by location and department, though I have found these to be a little more standardized than 10-Codes.
 

Code Description
CODE 1 At Your Convenience
CODE 2 Urgent (No Lights or Siren)
CODE 3 Emergency (Lights & Siren)
CODE 4 No Further Assistance Needed
CODE 5 Surveillance / Stakeout
CODE 6 Foot Patrol | Stay Out of Area
CODE 7 Meal Break
CODE 8 Restroom Break
CODE 9 Summer Uniform | No Cover Available
CODE 10 Bomb Threat | SWAT Pre-Call Up
CODE 11 WSAT Call Up
CODE 20 Assist Officer
CODE 21 Jail Emergency
CODE 33 Emergency: Do Not Transmit
CODE 37 Subject / Property Wanted

 
In addition to the codes above, there are separate sets of codes, like the ones for Medical/Fire below.

Code Description
CODE 10 Critical Trauma
CODE 20 Acute Trauma
CODE 30 Trauma
CODE 40 Serious
CODE 50 Basic Transport

This information was gathered from multiple local, and online sources ([1,2]).

 

Penal/Vehicle Codes

Generally things like Penal or Vehicle Codes simply reference the code number in one form or another. For example, here in California, if someone references a code 148, they are probably referring to Penal Code 148, Resisting Arrest.
 
So for many codes, you will simply have to look them up on your State Legislature’s website. The list below should help you find them for your state.
 

State State/Primary Site FindLaw
Alabama View View
Alaska View View
Arizona View
Arkansas View
California View View
Colorado View
Connecticut View
Delaware View View
District of Columbia View
Florida View
Georgia View
Hawaii View View
Idaho View
Illinois View View
Indiana View View
Iowa View
Kansas View
Kentucky View
Louisiana View
Maine View
Maryland View
Massachusetts View
Michigan View
Minnesota View
Mississippi View
Missouri View
Montana View View
Nebraska View
Nevada View
New Hampshire View
New Jersey View
New Mexico View
New York View View
North Carolina View
North Dakota View
Ohio View
Oklahoma View
Oregon View
Pennsylvania View
Rhode Island View
South Carolina View
South Dakota View
Tennessee View
Texas View View
Utah View
Vermont View
Virginia View
Washington View
West Virginia View
Wisconsin View
Wyoming View

 
 

Plain Language

Plain language code is pretty much what it sounds like; a plain way to report information and communicate. Instead of a cryptic 10-Code, like 10-7, the person would just say “Out of Service”. It’s arguably more long winded, but it removes any communication blocks between departments and agencies. This is especially important in the case of an Emergency, where organizations from all over the country could be in a single area.
 
FEMA, as well as the DHS have all pushed the transition to a plain language code system. You can read some more on this in the FEMA Plain Language Guide.
 
Some of the concerns of Plain Language style codes is that it does remove the basic vail of security around the calls, especially if someone is listening in or overhears a call. Saying there is a “10-66” is much safer than saying there is a “Suspicious Person”, especially if it could cause alarm, or alert the suspect. But that being said, if there is a joint department operation going on, and someone uses a code, that another department doesn’t use, there could be confusion and that could be even more dangerous.
 

Additional Resources

Here is another great resource provided by ZipScanners.com.
 
Police Codes

 

Are you in Law Enforcement? What do you think about Plain Language vs a 10-Code system? What does your department use?
 
If you have any codes that you would like added, let us know. We will be updating/adding them as we find new information. Don’t forget to like and share!

References

  1. Code References, Radio Labs
  2. Code References, goldnuggetwebs.com – 10 Codes
  3. Code References, zipscanners.com

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