News / USA

10-4 Police Codes Losing Favor

Law enforcement adopts common language protocol

This is the police cruiser actor Broderick Crawford drove in the 1950s TV series “Highway Patrol,” in which he gruffly barked out “10-4” frequently.
This is the police cruiser actor Broderick Crawford drove in the 1950s TV series “Highway Patrol,” in which he gruffly barked out “10-4” frequently.

Multimedia

Audio
Ted Landphair

If you’ve ever seen an American police show on TV or in the movies, you’ve seen a dispatcher or an officer on patrol communicate using so-called “ten-codes.” These are shorthand codes that have different meanings.

The most famous, “10-4,” simply means, “I acknowledge what you’ve just told me.” It has even spread into everyday language, as in “10-4, good buddy!”

Your “10-20” is your location, “10-8” means you or your vehicle is in service, and “10-7” means just the opposite, that you’re going out of service. And there are many more ten codes.

This cop jargon - later borrowed by long-distance truckers - originated with the Illinois State Police in 1937.

Back then, communication with units in the field was sometimes spotty, and the number of police channels was limited. There was no time for small talk in a car chase or confrontation with criminals.

Police, fire, trucking, and some military dispatchers - including these from the Houston Police Department - use 10-codes in their work every day.
Police, fire, trucking, and some military dispatchers - including these from the Houston Police Department - use 10-codes in their work every day.

But after two catastrophic events - the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and New York’s World Trade Center in 2001, and Hurricane Katrina’s devastating swirl into Louisiana, when chaos often reigned and officers from many agencies were frantically trying to communicate with each other - many police departments abandoned the 10-4 codes.

The latest to do so, the Maryland State Police, have switched to what’s called “Common Language Protocol,” meaning simple, plain language instead of codes that people have to memorize and sometimes get confused.  

So instead of a dispatcher’s saying, “34 Bravo 2, what’s your 10-20?” he or she would say, “34 Bravo 2,” where are you? And the officer would ideally reply, “I’m at Pine and Chestnut streets.”

Of course, that still leaves the Alpha-Bravo codes, which assign a word to every letter in the alphabet to avoid spelling mixups in two-way chatter, but one step at a time.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid