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Police Signal Codes

What Are Police Signal Codes?

Police Radio Signal Codes

Police signal codes and 10 codes are a system of numbers used together that represent specific activities or conditions and are usually transmitted by voice over the radio or used in mobile computer systems. The codes are typically transmitted from a dispatching center or dispatch (a central communications center) to officers in the field. Likewise, police officers will transmit these coded messages back to dispatch or when communicating with fellow officers. These codes are meant to assist emergency personnel such as law enforcement, by providing uniformity and precision in communication. However, police radio codes differ greatly throughout various jurisdictions and regions. This lack of uniformity across jurisdictional boundaries has created confusion among police and other law enforcement agencies conducting joint operations. This is especially problematic when responding to large-scale emergencies involving numerous agencies. This jurisdictional incongruity is a major safety concern for the public as well as for responding law enforcement and other emergency personnel. For this reason many agencies have adopted plain talk radio communication. Using plain talk simply means suspending the use of localized police radio codes during interagency emergencies and adhering to more universally recognized, concise and descriptive plain language while using the radio. Some agencies have even adopted 100% plain talk policies for all of their internal radio communication.

What's the difference between police signal codes and radio 10 codes?

Police 10 codes are self-referential and tend to deal with officer disposition, scene disposition, time-and-place, and certain aspects of message transmission or characteristics of communication. Police signal codes tend to focus primarily on a specific activity or the type of emergency at hand. The best way to illustrate this is through examples. Again, these codes and radio protocol displayed here will differ based on the jurisdiction, agency, policies / procedures.

List of Police Radio Signal Codes

Agency specific list of police radio codes.

Signal 0 Armed Person / Incident Signal 32 Kidnapping
Signal 1 Drunk Driver Signal 33 Shoplifting
Signal 2 Drunk Person
M - Marchman Act
Signal 34 Criminal Mischief
V - Vehicle
Signal 3 Hit & Run Accident Signal 35 Narcotics
Signal 4 Accident
I - Accident with Injuries
Signal 36 Bomb Threat
Signal 5 Murder Signal 37 Suspicious Incident
P - Suspicious Mail
Signal 6 Escaped Prisoner Signal 38 Theft
G - Gas
Signal 7 Dead Person Signal 39 Suicide
Signal 8 Lost / Missing Person Signal 40 Alarm
Signal 9 Lost / Stolen License Tag Signal 41 BOLO
Signal 10 Stolen Vehicle
- Recovered
Signal 42 Trespassing
Signal 11 Abandoned Vehicle Signal 43 Lewd / Lascivious Behavior
Signal 12 Reckless Driver Signal 44 Overdose
Signal 13 Suspicious Vehicle
(P - Suspicious Person)
Signal 45 Shots Fired
Signal 15 Special Detail Signal 48 Animal Complaint
B - Dog Bite
Signal 16 Obstruction on Roadway Signal 49 Obscene Telephone Call
Signal 17 Contact Message Signal 52 Assault
A - Agg Assault, S - Agg Stalk
Signal 20 Possible Mental Problem Signal 54 Airplane Crash
Signal 21 Burglary
A - Alarm, I - In Progress, V - Vehicle
Signal 55 Open Door
Signal 22 Disturbance
F - Fight, I - In Progress, N - Noise,
P - Panhandler, R - Road Rage,
T - Threats Disorderly
Signal 56 Forgery
Signal 23 Hitchhiker / Pedestrian Signal 57 Fraud
Signal 24 Robbery
0 - Armed, A - Alarm, H - Home Invasion, V - Car Jack
Signal 58 Ordinance Violation
C - Curfew Violation
Signal 25 Fire
A - Alarm, B - Brush Fire, R - Arson, V - Vehicle Fire
Signal 60 Hostage Barricade Incident
Signal 26 Drowning Incident Signal 62 Gambling
Signal 27 Prowler Signal 66 Lost / Found Property
Signal 29 Wanted
F - Fel / Wanted M - Misdemeanor
Signal 69 Prostitution
Signal 31 Rape / Sexual Assault Signal 80 Community Control


Examples of police signal codes

OFFICER to DISPATCH: "I have a Signal 4 on 10th Avenue and Burrows Street. One driver appears possibly Signal 2"

TRANSLATION: The officer has happened upon a traffic accident at the intersection of 10th Avenue and Burrows. One driver appears to be drunk (Signal 2).

DISPATCH to OFFICER: "The complainant stated there is Signal 35 activity in the parking lot"

TRANSLATION: A caller is alleging narcotics activity (e.g., drug deal) taking place in a parking lot at a location.

DISPATCH to OFFICER: "Can you respond to a possible Signal 7 at the Oakridge Apartments?"

TRANSLATION: Dispatch is asking an officer if they are available to investigate a possible dead person at the Oakridge Apartments.

Examples of a radio 10 codes used by police

OFFICER to DISPATCH: "10-4, you can show me 10-51"

TRANSLATION: The officer affirms receiving the message (10-4) and is now enroute (10-51) to the predetermined location.

OFFICER to DISPATCH: "I'm getting the complainant's 10-43"

TRANSLATION: The officer is getting the victim's information.

OFFICER to DISPATCH: "10-1. Can you 10-9 your last transmission?"

TRANSLATION: The radio signal was weak or broken (10-1). The officer probably didn't understand the last message and to please repeat (10-9) the last transmission/message.

Signal code and 10 codes combined

OFFICER to DISPATCH: "10-4, you can show me 10-51 to the Signal 40 audible"

TRANSLATION: The officer affirms receiving the message (10-4) and is now enroute (10-51) to the predetermined location where there the audible burglar alarm is being reported.

Related Articles:

Police Signal Codes
A reference listing of police signal codes.

Police 10 Codes
A reference listing of police 10 codes.

Phonetic Alphabet
ALPHA through ZULU Phonetic Alphabet.

How to Use a Police Radio
Instructions how to use a police radio and how to transmit a message.

Navy Signal Flags
Navy Signal Flags with meanings and images of flags.

Morse Code SOS Distress
How to send a Morse Code SOS distress signal with example telegraph sound and flashing light SOS signal.

Morse Code
A reference listing of Morse Code.

Fun with Signal Codes

Police Scanners