411 guide of Emergency Dispatch Codes

Chances are you have seen a movie with cops in it, taking dispatch calls with codes like 10-4? Ever wondered what this codes actually mean? This guide introduces you to the existing police 10 codes and gives you their meaning so you can appreciate and understand its usefulness.

Let’s begin with some history lessons.

Details and Explanations about the Police 10 Codes

They are generally 4 variations of the Police 10 Codes used in the United States. Namely:

  • General
  • APCO
  • Norfolk, VA
  • Walnut Creek, CA

The most popular of which is general and the APCO, this guide would focus on the both of them.

The APCO coding system was introduced in 1937 and further expanded in 1974 by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO). The code is to Charles “Charlie” Hopper, communications director for the Illinois State Police, District 10 in Pesotum, Illinois. Although no longer common practice in some states as the codes are being phased out in favor of plain language, the ten codes remain popular among security agents.

0-0 Use Caution
10-1 Signal Weak Unable Copy – Change Location
10-2 Signal Good Signal Good
10-3 Stop Transmitting Stop Transmitting
10-4 Affirmative (OK) Acknowledgment (OK)
10-5 Relay To/From Relay
10-6 Busy Busy – Unless Urgent
10-7 Out of Service Out of Service
10-8 In Service In Service
10-9 Say Again Repeat
10-10 Negative Fight In Progress
10-11 ___ On Duty (Employee Number) Dog Case
10-12 Stand By (Stop) Stand By (Stop)
10-13 Weather Conditions Weather-Road Report
10-14 Message/Information Prowler Report
10-15 Message Delivered Civil Disturbance
10-16 Reply to Message Domestic Problem
10-17 Enroute Meet Complainant
10-18 Urgent Quickly
10-19 (In) Contact Return to _____
10-20 Location Location
10-21 Call ( ) by Phone Call ( ) by Phone
10-22 Disregard Disregard
10-23 Arrived at Scene Arrived at Scene
10-24 Assignment Completed Assignment Completed
10-25 Report to (Meet) Report in Person (Meet)
10-26 Estimated Arrival Time (ETA) Detaining Subject, Expedite
10-27 License / Permit Information (Drivers) License Information
10-28 Vehicle Information Vehicle Registration Information
10-29 Records Check Check for Wanted
10-30 Danger / Caution Unnecessary Use of Radio
10-31 Pick Up Crime in Progress
10-32 ___Units Needed (Specify) Man with Gun
10-33 Need Immediate Assistance Emergency
10-34 Current Time Riot
10-35 Major Crime Alert
10-36 Correct Time
10-37 (Investigate) Suspicious Vehicle
10-38 Stopping Suspicious Vehicle
10-39 Urgent – Use Light, Siren
10-40 Fight in Progress Silent Run – No Light, Siren
10-41 Beginning Tour of Duty Beginning Tour of Duty
10-42 Ending Tour of Duty Ending Tour of Duty
10-43 In Pursuit Information
10-44 Riot Permission to Leave ___for___
10-45 Bomb Threat Animal Carcass at ___
10-46 Bank Alarm Assist Motorist
10-47 Complete Assignment Quickly Emergency Road Repair at ___
10-48 Detaining Suspect, Expedite Traffic Standard Repair at ___
10-49 Drag Racing Traffic Light Out at ___
10-50 Vehicle Accident (F-Fire, PI-Personal Injury, PD-Property Damage) Accident (F-Fire, PI-Personal Injury, PD-Property Damage)
10-51 Dispatch Wrecker Wrecker Needed
10-52 Dispatch Ambulance Ambulance Needed
10-53 Road Blocked Road Blocked at ___
10-54 Hit and Run Accident (F-Fire, PI-Personal Injury, PD-Property Damage) Livestock on Highway
10-55 Intoxicated Driver Intoxicated Driver
10-56 Intoxicated Pedestrian Intoxicated Pedestrian
10-57 Request BT Operator Hit and Run (F-Fire, PI-Personal Injury, PD-Property Damage)
10-58 Direct Traffic Direct Traffic
10-59 Escort Convoy or Escort
10-60 Suspicious Vehicle Squad in Vicinity
10-61 Stopping Suspicious Vehicle Personnel in Area
10-62 B and E in Progress (Breaking & Entering) Reply to Message
10-63 Prepare to Receive an Assignment Prepare to Make Written Copy
10-64 Crime in Progress Message for Local Delivery
10-65 Armed Robbery Net Message Assignment
10-66 Notify Medical Examiner Message Cancellation
10-67 Report of Death Clear for Net Message
10-68 Livestock in Roadway Dispatch Information
10-69 Advise Telephone Number Message Received
10-70 Improper Parked Vehicle Fire Alarm
10-71 Improper Use of Radio Advise Nature of Fire
10-72 Prisoner in Custody Report Progress on Fire
10-73 Mental Subject Smoke Report
10-74 Prison/Jail Break Negative
10-75 Wanted or Stolen In Contact with ___
10-76 Prowler En Route ___
10-77 Direct Traffic at Fire Scene ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival)
10-78 Need Assistance
10-79 Notify Coroner
10-80 Fire Alarm Chase in Progress
10-81 Nature of Fire Breathalizer Report
10-82 Fire in Progress Reserve Lodging
10-83 Smoke Visible Work School Crossing at ___
10-84 No Smoke Visible If Meeting ___ Advise ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival)
10-85 Respond without Blue Lights / Siren Delay due to ___
10-86 Officer / Operator on Duty
10-87 Pickup / Distribute Checks
10-88 Present Telephone # of ___
10-89 Bomb Threat
10-90 Bank Alarm at ___
10-91 Pick Up Prisoner / Subject
10-92 Improperly Parked Vehicle
10-93 Blockade
10-94 Drag Racing
10-95 Prisoner / Subject in Custody
10-96 Mental Subject
10-97 Check (Test) Signal
10-98 Prison / Jail Break
10-99 Wanted / Stolen Indicated
10-101 What is Status? (Are you secure?)
10-106 Secure (Status is secure)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do police use codes?

Originally, police codes were invented during the 1920s and 1930s when radio channels were few and far between. They were meant to keep police chatter to a minimum so that only the essential information would be communicated. Now you might be wondering why the police still uses these 10-codes even now when radio channels should be easily available, especially in large metropolitan areas. Well, as you might have probably guessed, these codes keep their chatter somewhat secretive even if some of the codes can be easily found online. In a firefight, for instance, suspects might not be aware of all the codes off the top of their heads, so it makes it easier for the police to surround them and make them drop their weapons with as few victims as humanly possible.

What is a Code 4?

Unlike a 10-4 code, a Code 4 refers to the fact that the situation is under control and that the scene of the crime is now safe.

What is a Code Blue?

Many people confuse this code for a police code, but it’s actually a code used by medics, especially those in emergency response teams. A Code Blue alerts all staff to a medical emergency such as cardiac arrest. Now, all critical patient arrests are “Protected Code Blues” where the care team meticulously don and doff their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in controlled areas, to mitigate risk to themselves, their colleagues and their patients.

What does police Code 5150 refer to?

According to Dictionary.com, “Code 5150 refers to the California law code for the temporary, involuntary psychiatric commitment of individuals who present a danger to themselves or others due to signs of mental illness.” The situation can indeed get dangerous depending on just how messed up the individual in question’s psychiatric state is at the time of the arrest or crime.

In Conclusion

Police codes have been around for a long time, despite it being gradually phased out and replace by plain language an idea about the codes and meanings is important.  Next time you talk to an officer you may know a little more about what you are hearing over the intercom.  With the media the way it is right now with police in the headlines, lets get the men in blue a break and show our support.  The more we each know about one another the better we can do to keep our communities safe.
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