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 to 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 0Armed Person / IncidentSignal 32Kidnapping
Signal 1Drunk DriverSignal 33Shoplifting
Signal 2Drunk Person
M – Marchman Act
Signal 34Criminal Mischief
V – Vehicle
Signal 3Hit & Run AccidentSignal 35Narcotics
Signal 4Accident
I – Accident with Injuries
Signal 36Bomb Threat
Signal 5MurderSignal 37Suspicious Incident
P – Suspicious Mail
Signal 6Escaped PrisonerSignal 38Theft
G – Gas
Signal 7Dead PersonSignal 39Suicide
Signal 8Lost / Missing PersonSignal 40Alarm
Signal 9Lost / Stolen License TagSignal 41BOLO
Signal 10Stolen Vehicle
– Recovered
Signal 42Trespassing
Signal 11Abandoned VehicleSignal 43Lewd / Lascivious Behavior
Signal 12Reckless DriverSignal 44Overdose
Signal 13Suspicious Vehicle
(P – Suspicious Person)
Signal 45Shots Fired
Signal 15Special DetailSignal 48Animal Complaint
B – Dog Bite
Signal 16Obstruction on RoadwaySignal 49Obscene Telephone Call
Signal 17Contact MessageSignal 52Assault
A – Agg Assault, S – Agg Stalk
Signal 20Possible Mental ProblemSignal 54Airplane Crash
Signal 21Burglary
A – Alarm, I – In Progress, V – Vehicle
Signal 55Open Door
Signal 22Disturbance
F – Fight, I – In Progress, N – Noise,
P – Panhandler, R – Road Rage,
T – Threats Disorderly
Signal 56Forgery
Signal 23Hitchhiker / PedestrianSignal 57Fraud
Signal 24Robbery
0 – Armed, A – Alarm, H – Home Invasion, V – Car Jack
Signal 58Ordinance Violation
C – Curfew Violation
Signal 25Fire
A – Alarm, B – Brush Fire, R – Arson, V – Vehicle Fire
Signal 60Hostage Barricade Incident
Signal 26Drowning IncidentSignal 62Gambling
Signal 27ProwlerSignal 66Lost / Found Property
Signal 29Wanted
F – Fel / Wanted M – Misdemeanor
Signal 69Prostitution
Signal 31Rape / Sexual AssaultSignal 80Community 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 en route (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 en route (10-51) to the predetermined location where there the audible burglar alarm is being reported.

All posts in this series:

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.

American Morse Code - American Morse Code letters and numbers and how they differ from International Morse Code.

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