Police Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Jargon

There are hundreds of police abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon words used in paperwork and on the radio by law enforcement officials. Whether you’re working towards a career as a police officer or you want to better understand what’s happening on your police scanner, learning police lingo from a police terminology list can be fun and informative. 

Frequently-Used Police Abbreviations

Police acronyms and abbreviations in English used in the United States of America cover everything from everyday events to extreme emergencies.

Police Abbreviations for Accidents and Traffic Stops

Things like directions, injury assessments, and motor vehicle documents all have abbreviations so officers can quickly share information about traffic stops and accidents. 

  • A - Adult

  • AC - Aircraft Crash

  • BLK - Block

  • E-B - Eastbound

  • ETA - Estimated Time of Arrival

  • INJ - Injury

  • I/S - Intersection

  • J - Juvenile involved

  • LIC - License

  • M/C - Motorcycle

  • MVA - Motor Vehicle Accident

  • NIA - Non-Injury Accident

  • OBS - Observed

  • PI - Personal Injury

  • POSS - Possession

  • RA - Rescue Ambulance

  • SPD - Speed

  • UL - Unable to Locate

  • VEH - Vehicle

  • WIT - Witness

Police Codes for Crimes and Their Abbreviations  

Specific crimes are often abbreviated so they’re easier to report. Understanding these terms can also help you understand what’s happening if you’re arrested

  • ADW - Assault with a Deadly Weapon

  • B&E - Breaking & Entering

  • CCW - Carrying a Concealed Weapon

  • CSU - Crime Scene Unit

  • DOC - Disorderly Conduct

  • DUI - Driving Under the Influence

  • DUS - Driving Under Suspension

  • DWI - Driving While Intoxicated

  • GSR - Gun Shot Residue

  • GTA - Grand Theft Auto

  • MP - Missing Person

  • PV - Parole Violation

  • SOC - Scene of the Crime

Police Abbreviations for Paperwork and Trials

Police paperwork covers a lot of detail, so abbreviations are often used to keep reports shorter. 

  • APB - All Points Bulletin

  • BKG - Booking

  • BOLO - Be on the Lookout

  • CP - Complaining Party

  • CPD - City or County Property Damage

  • CT - Court

  • FTA - Failure to Appear

  • NCIC - National Criminal Information Center

  • OD - Off Duty

  • QT - Secrecy Required

  • RO - Reporting Officer

  • ROF - Report on File

  • RP - Reporting Party

Police Unit and Task Force Acronyms

Specialized police units and task force are more commonly known by their acronyms. 

  • CHP - California Highway Patrol

  • CRT - Crime Response Team

  • DEA - Drug Enforcement Agency

  • FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation

  • GIU - Gang Intelligence Unit

  • LAPD - Los Angeles Police Department

  • OCU - Organized Crime Unit

  • RHD - Robbery-Homicide Division

  • SWAT - Special Weapons and Tactics Team

Police Communication Number Codes

Radio codes are extremely important when there is an emergency and time is of the essence. Codes are numerical abbreviations that can allow help to arrive faster by indicating the type of emergency. The use of codes also keeps communication confidential when it comes over a two-way radio and the officer is in a public place. 

Ten Codes for Police

Most people are familiar with simple 10 codes for police, like 10-4. The word “ten” tells police that the next number or set of numbers is a code for something. Since there is no universal set of ten codes, these are examples of what they mean in some cases. 

  • 10-0 - Use caution

  • 10-4 - Okay, affirmative

  • 10-13 - Advise weather and road conditions

  • 10-14 - Prowler report; Convoy or escort detail

  • 10-15 - Civil disturbance; Prisoner in custody

  • 10-22 - Cancel last message; Investigate a break-in

  • 10-26 - Detaining a suspect; ETA (estimated time of arrival); Larceny

  • 10-27 - Driver’s licence/permit/registration information; Rape report

  • 10-63 - Prepare to make a written copy or receive assistance

  • 10-75 - In contact with; Wanted or stolen

  • 10-78 - Need assistance

  • 10-79 - Bomb threat; Notify coroner

  • 10-101 - Civil disturbance; What’s your status?

  • 10-106 - Secure

  • 10-999 - Officer down 

Police Eleven Codes

Since ten codes have become common knowledge over time, some police departments use other codes, like eleven codes, to communicate. 

  • 11-6 - Illegal discharge of firearms

  • 11-7 - Prowler

  • 11-10 - Take a report

  • 11-13 - Injured/dead animal

  • 11-24 - Abandoned vehicle

  • 11-27 - Driver’s license check; Driver being held

  • 11-31 - Officer needs help

  • 11-41 - Request ambulance

  • 11-42 - Ambulance not required

  • 11-44 - Fatality/death

  • 11-45 - Attempted suicide

  • 11-48 - Transportation needed

  • 11-80 - Traffic accident - serious injury

  • 11-81 - Traffic accident - minor injury

  • 11-82 - Traffic accident - no injury

  • 11-99 - Officer needs help; Emergency

Common Police Jargon

Jargon is basically a type of shorthand. Understanding cop lingo, or police jargon, can help you learn how to talk like a real cop. 

Police Alphabet

Police departments often use an alphabet provided by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, or APCO, to spell out words over their radios. The police alphabet includes one word for each letter and helps dispatchers and officers clearly understand each other over radio communication. In some places the NATO phonetic alphabet is used. 

There may be variations between areas, but this is the police alphabet from the LAPD

  • A - Adam

  • B - Boy

  • C - Charles

  • D - David

  • E - Edward

  • F - Frank

  • G - George

  • H - Henry

  • I - Ida

  • J - John

  • K - King

  • L - Lincoln

  • M - Mary

  • N - Nora

  • O - Ocean

  • P - Paul

  • Q - Queen

  • R - Robert

  • S - Sam

  • T - Tom

  • U - Union

  • V - Victor

  • W - William

  • X - X-ray

  • Y - Young

  • Z - Zebra

Police Slang Words and Terms

Just like anyone else, police often come up with slang words and other terms that cover common situations they encounter. 

  • Bailed out - Subject jumped out of the car and ran

  • Been made - Undercover officer’s identity is now known

  • Berries and cherries - The lights on top of a police car

  • Dix - Detectives

  • Ghetto bird - Police helicopter

  • Hobbles - Nylon ropes used for restraint

  • House mouse - Officer who doesn’t go on patrols

  • Put a rush on the bus! - Get the ambulance here fast!

  • Ride the lightning - Tasing someone

  • Sam Browne - An officer’s belt

  • Stolo - Stolen vehicle

Talk Like a Cop

Whether you are watching police-themed television shows or listening to police calls on a scanner, it is obvious that abbreviations and codes are frequently used by the police and their dispatchers. You can check out codes used by your local law enforcement agency by checking out their website or visiting in person. 

Take your police lingo education a step further and learn slang words for “police” or research law enforcement abbreviations like police abbreviations in the U.K. (United Kingdom). 

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