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:
- 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.
|Ten code||APCO||GENERAL PURPOSE|
|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)|
|10-6||Busy||Busy – Unless Urgent|
|10-7||Out of Service||Out of Service|
|10-8||In Service||In Service|
|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|
|10-15||Message Delivered||Civil Disturbance|
|10-16||Reply to Message||Domestic Problem|
|10-19||(In) Contact||Return to _____|
|10-21||Call (___) by Phone||Call (___) by Phone|
|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|
|10-35||Major Crime Alert|
|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|
|10-44||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|
|10-75||Wanted or Stolen||In Contact with ___|
|10-76||Prowler||En Route ___|
|10-77||Direct Traffic at Fire Scene||ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival)|
|10-80||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 ___|
|10-90||Bank Alarm at ___|
|10-91||Pick Up Prisoner / Subject|
|10-92||Improperly Parked Vehicle|
|10-95||Prisoner / Subject in Custody|
|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)|
|Code 1||Do so at your convenience|
|Code 3||Emergency/lights and siren.|
|Code 4||No further assistance is needed.|
|Code 6||Responding from a long distance.|
|Code 8||Request cover/backup.|
|Code 9||Set up a roadblock.|
|Code 10||Bomb threat|
|Code 12||Notify news media|
|Code 20||Officer needs assistance|
|Code 22||Restricted radio traffic|
|Code 30||Officer needs HELP – EMERGENCY!|
|Code 33||Mobile emergency – clear this radio channel|
|Code 43||TAC forces committed.|
|AID Public Safety Assistance|
Frequently Asked Questions About Police 10 Codes
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.
Police 10 Codes 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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Camron Brown says
Given that one of the events in our role-playing exercise at school involves encounters with the police, I find this article to be really interesting. I suppose I will suggest that I play one of the police officers as this provides me with an idea of how to be one.
This is interesting, I’ve seen several movies where they made use of this but I failed to appreciate it because I didn’t get their meanings. It sounds pretty cool once you understand the meanings as opposed to just thinking the police officer is just blurting out some random codes!
I’ve enjoyed learning new stuff on the blog and would love to read more on interesting yet informative posts like these.
James Smith says
Good to know some of the common codes and their uses. I skimmed through the list and saw some ones that I recognize. Do you think police officers know every code on this list… or just the popular ones? I wonder…
Matt G. says
Just saw the movie Nightcrawler where the main actor memorized the codes within a week or two. I wanted to see how many codes there actually are so this list proved useful. Thanks for sharing!
Blake Reeves says
Great write up. I recently downloaded a police scanner app on my iPhone and I can hear the police communicate and they use these codes. 10-4 is the most popular one and one I hear the most. I hope I never hear 10-74… (Prison Break) Good read!