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.
|10-4||Message Received / Understood|
|10-7||Out of Service|
|10-11||Send Cover | Identify Frequency|
|10-13||Weather / Road Advice|
|10-14||Citizen w/ Suspect|
|10-15||Prisoner in Custody|
|10-17||Request for Fuel|
|10-19||Return/Returning to Station|
|10-22||Cancel / Disregard|
|10-24||Request Car-to-Car Transmit|
|10-25||Do You Have Contact With|
|10-27||Wanted | D.D.L. Report|
|10-28||Vehicle Registration Request|
|10-29||Warrant / Want Check|
|10-30||Doesn’t Conform to Regulations|
|10-34||Open Door/Window | Assist at Office|
|10-39||Status Check | Can ___ Come to the Radio?|
|10-40||Is ____ Available for a Phone Call?|
|10-43||Call a Doctor|
|10-45||Condition of Patient|
|10-51||Drunk / Intoxicated|
|10-54||Possible Dead Body|
|10-61||Misc. Public Service|
|10-62||Meet a Citizen|
|10-63||Prepare to Copy a Message|
|10-67||Person Calling for Help|
|10-68||Telephone for Police|
|10-72||Gun Involved | Knifing|
|10-73||How do you Receive?|
|10-76||En rout to __|
|10-83||School Crossing Assignment|
|10-86||Any Radio Traffic (for)?|
|10-95||Need ID Tech Unit|
|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.
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.
|11-25||Traffic / Vehicle Hazard|
|11-27||Drivers License Check – Driver Held|
|11-28||Registration Request – Driver Held|
|11-40||Advice if Ambulance Required|
|11-42||No Ambulance Needed|
|11-55||Officer Being Followed|
|11-56||Office Being Follower By Dangerous Person|
|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|
|11-79||Accident – Ambulance Sent|
|11-80||Accident – Major Injuries|
|11-81||Accident – Minor Injuries|
|11-82||Accident – No Injuries|
|11-83||Accident – No Detail|
|11-85||Tow Truck Required|
|11-95||Routine Traffic Stop|
|11-96||Checking Suspicious Vehicle|
|11-97||Time / Security Check on Patrol|
|11-99||Officer Needs Assistance (CODE 3, Emergency)|
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 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 10||Critical Trauma|
|CODE 20||Acute Trauma|
|CODE 50||Basic Transport|
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.
|District of Columbia||View||–|
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.
Here is another great resource provided by ZipScanners.com.
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!