What Are Police 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 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|
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 |
R – Recovered
|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|
A – Alarm, I – In Progress, V – Vehicle
|Signal 55||Open Door|
F – Fight, I – In Progress, N – Noise,
P – Panhandler, R – Road Rage,
T – Threats Disorderly
|Signal 23||Hitchhiker / Pedestrian||Signal 57||Fraud|
0 – Armed, A – Alarm, H – Home Invasion, V – Car Jack
|Signal 58||Ordinance Violation|
C – Curfew Violation
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|
F – Fel / Wanted M – Misdemeanor
|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
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.
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
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.