A police scanner is a radio receiver able to tune or scan frequencies. It monitors UHF and VHF hand-held mobile radio systems. It can receive messages one at a time, and send out multiple signals at the same time. A scanner device is further enhanced with the use of codes, like number or color codes. To reduce the negative effects of radio static, short codes are used. Police scanner color codes reduce sentences and phrases into two-word signals.

Common Police Scanner Codes

Code 2 Urgent – no light or siren

Code 3 Use lights and siren

Code 4 No further assistance needed

Code 5 Stakeout

Code 6 Stay out of area

Code 7 Meal break

Code 8 Restroom break

Code 9 Summer uniform

Code 10 SWAT pre-call up

Code 11 SWAT call up

Code 37 Subject/property wanted

Police Scanner Color Codes

Police scanner color codes have been a great help in police emergency operations for years. Also known as an efficient mode of radio communication among ten-eleven codes, police scanner color codes have saved countless lives and properties.

A robber on the run is escaping from law enforcers and jumps into a public bus. The passengers are in danger and more police back-up is needed. An officer reaches out for the radio in the police car unit and says, “We have a code blue.” Then the officer adds other details. This is how police scanner color codes are used in an actual police emergency.

What are Police Scanner Color Codes?

These are among 10-11 (ten-eleven) codes that identify radio frequency quickly. They also enable law enforcers and other relief or rescue operators to report situational updates and receive instructions. For requesting immediate help fast, like police back-up, police scanner color codes are also used. There are, to date, only three color ten-eleven codes.

What are the Three Scanner Color Codes?

  1. Code Blue       –      Bus or taxi in trouble
  2. Code Red        –     VARDA (Voice Activated Radio Dispatched Alarm) activated
  3. Code Purple  –     Gang activity

First, Code Blue. This indicates that a public vehicle, like a bus or cab, is in trouble. Like in the example above, police operatives need not say, “We have trouble here. An armed suspect boarded a bus and is endangering the passengers.” All the law enforcer has to say over the radio is, “We have a code blue.” Police scanner color codes make reporting and updating fast and easy.

Second, Code Red. It means the Varda alarm has been set off. VARDA is an acronym that means Voice Activated Radio Dispatch Alarm. It is placed or installed on an object, like a car engine or chassis. When someone moves the car unaware, an alarm is automatically set off at a nearby police station. A voice recording programmed to announce ten-eleven codes will be sent to all police car units and an officer will be dispatched to the site immediately. Police scanner color codes enables law enforcers to act fast within minutes.

Third, Code Purple. When a mob or gang in a neighborhood gets violent or threatening, and it is reported to the station, a code purple is sent to all units. Any available unit should respond at once to the scene. Or, if a lone law enforcer sees a gang activity, immediate back-up should be requested by merely saying the code and location details. Police scanner color codes and other ten-eleven codes make a potential danger easy to contain within minutes.

Police Scanner Penal Codes

When trouble strikes, fast and efficient police response is of utmost importance. Reporting the situation to police headquarters in a long-winded or rambling way will not do. Thus, practical police scanner penal codes were formulated for fast and efficient police radio communication.

For Criminal Acts

Police scanner penal codes are designed to be used during monitoring of or pursuing suspected criminal elements. When surveying acts worthy of punishment by the law, and especially when danger seems inevitable or impending, police radio communication uses police scanner penal codes. This makes radio conversations efficient and fast. Among criminal activities monitored with penal codes are homicide, kidnapping, robbery, assault, rape, and illegal possession of arms, among others.

Penal Codes Exclusive to Some Departments

Some police scanner penal codes are common to various police departments, while others are exclusive to a particular department or station. Some state law enforcers may use a different police radio communication signal from another. Similarly, some scanner codes used by police departments, fire departments, and rescue and relief teams, differ from each other. This is due to some special tasks specific to the nature of their work. Ambulances, fire trucks, tow trucks, and police car units, for instance, have different uses, though all are for emergency uses. Hence, they use different radio communication signals.

Among common codes used for penal monitoring purposes is code 217. When a pre-meditated murder is in progress and an officer needs back-up, code 217 or assault with murder attempt is the right code to use. The officer may simply say over the radio, “Code 217 at Madison Avenue. Requesting for 11-99!” This is a combination of police scanner panel codes and eleven codes, another set of emergency radio codes. A report on assault with intent to murder and request for back-up at a certain location is quickly done with a short one-line radio communication.

A 273D Police Report

Reports should be done in such a way that details are relayed accurately without divulging them to civilians who may be present in the operation or at the time of reporting. For instance, the family of a woman who is a victim of cruel wife-beating is around the police premise. If family members are not supposed to know how grave the incident is, officers may talk of the case in front of them without revealing any sensitive detail. This is possible by simply saying 273D (another common police scanner penal code) when referring to it.

Common Police Scanner Penal Codes

14          Ambulance in route

15          Citizens holding suspect

17f        Fugitive attachment

17m     Municipal court attachment

17t       Traffic attachment

18         Traffic incident

19         Drunk

20         Auto accident

20a      Airplane crash

20f       Fatal accident

20i      Injury accident

21        Complaint

23        Traffic congestion

24        Medical emergency

25        Call dispatcher

26        Police officer

27       Attempted crime

28       Inciting a felony

29       Death

30       Homicide

30c     Homicide by cutting

30s     Homicide by shooting

34       Aggravated battery

34c     Cutting

34s      Shooting

35        Simple battery

37       Aggravated assault

38        Simple assault

39        Negligent injury

42        Aggravated rape

43         Simple rape

44         Aggravated kidnapping

45         Simple kidnapping

51         Aggravated arson

51b       Bomb threat

52         Simple arson

52e       Explosives

52f        Fire

54         Combustible materials

56         Criminal damage

58         Contaminated water

59         Criminal Mischief

60         Aggravated burglary

62          Alarms

62b       Simple burglary

62c       Auto burglary

62r       Residential burglary

62s       Safe burglary

63         Criminal Trespass

63s       Sit-in

64         Armed robbery

64g       Armed robbery/gun

64k       Armed robbery/knife

65         Simple robbery

65p       Purse snatching

66          Extortion threats

68          Unauthorized use of movable

69          Possession of stolen goods

71          Issuing worthless checks

72          Forgery

80          Carnal knowledge of juvenile

81           Indecent behavior with juvenile

82           Prostitution

84           Pandering

87           Abortion

89           Crime against nature

90           Gambling

90c         Gambling by cards

90d         Gambling by dice

91            Unlawful sale to minor

93            Cruelty to juvenile

94            Illegal use of weapon

95            Illegal carrying of gun

95k         Illegal carrying of knife

98           D.W.I.

99           Reckless operation

100        Hit and run

148         Resisting Arrest

187         Homicide

207         Kidnapping

207A      Kidnapping attempt

211         Robbery

211A      Robbery alarm

211S       Robbery alarm, silent

217         Assault with intent to murder

240         Assault

242         Battery

243         Assault on Police Officer

245         Assault with a deadly weapon

246         Shooting at inhabited dwelling

261         Rape

261A      Attempted rape

273         Assault on Person

273A      Child neglect

273D      Felony wife beating

288         Lewd conduct

311         Indecent exposure

314         Indecent exposure

374B      illegal dumping

390         Drunk

390C      Drunk in Vehicle

390D      Drunk, unconscious

404         Riot

407        Unlawful Assembly

415         Disturbance

415b       Investigate the Trouble

415c       Disturbance – Children involved

415d       Disturbance – Drunk involved

415e       Loud Music or Party

415f        Disturbance – Family

415g       Disturbance – Gang

417         Person with a gun

417A      Person with a knife

447        Arson

459         Burglary

459A      Burglar alarm

459S       Burglar alarm, silent

464         Burglary with Explosives

470         Forgery

477a      Arson

480         Hit and run, felony

481         Hit and run, misdemeanor

484         Petty theft

484f        Fraudulent use of Credit Card(s)

484ps     Purse Snatch

487         Grand theft

487.2     Theft from Person or Purse snatch

488         Petty theft

496         Receiving stolen property

502         Drunk driving

503         Auto theft

504         Tampering with a vehicle

505         Reckless driving

507         Public nuisance

510         Speeding or racing vehicles

537         Defrauding Innkeeper

586         Illegal parking

586e      Vehicle blocking Driveway

594         Malicious mischief

595         Runaway car

602         Trespassing

602.5     Entry without consent

603         Unlawful entry

604         Throwing missiles

647         Lewd conduct

647a      Vagrant loitering in Public Place

647b      Prostitution

647c      Begging

647d      Loitering in Restroom

647e      Loitering Place to Place

647f       Drunk

647ff      Drunk – enroute to Detox

647g       Prowler

647h      Illegal Lodging

653M      Threatening phone calls

901          Ambulance Call

901a        Ambulance Call – Attempted Suicide

901b        Ambulance Call – Drowning

901c        Ambulance Call – Cutting

901d        Ambulance Call – Drunk

901g        Ambulance Call – Gas

901h       Ambulance Call – Dead Body

901k       Ambulance has been dispatched

901n      Ambulance requested

901s       Ambulance Call – Shooting

901t        Ambulance Call – Traffic Accident

901y       Request Ambulance if needed

902          Accident

902h       Enroute to Hospital

902m     Medical Aid needed

902t       Traffic Accident

903        Aircraft Crash

904        Fire

910        Can handle detail

952        Report on conditions

955        Detail under control

956        Detail incomplete, but available

957        Delayed response of __ minutes

966         DRUG DEAL

1000      Plane crash

3000      Road block

4532       Escape

5150       Mental case

10851    Auto theft

10852    Tampering with vehicle

11300    Narcotics

12020    Carrying Concealed Weapon

14601     Driving w/suspended DL

20001    Hit and run, felony

20002    Hit and run, misdemeanor

20007    Hit and run, unattended

21958    Drunk pedestrian on roadway

22350    Speeding

22500    Illegal parking

23101    Drunk driving – injuries

23102    Drunk driving

23103    Reckless driver

23104    Reckless driver

23105    Driver under narcotics

23109    Racing

23110    Person throwing objects at vehicles

23151    Drunk driving – injuries

23152    Drunk driver

23153    Reckless driving (use to be 510)

23109    Speed Contest

Police Scanner Eleven Codes

Police scanner eleven codes were primarily designed to address the needs of the California Highway Patrol. Traffic operatives and officers from this service felt the need to expedite radio communications. So they came up with these radio communication codes. The eleven codes were closely applied alongside the ten-codes to simplify radio conversations especially during emergencies. Here are some of their uses:

For Emergencies and Others on the Road

Police scanner eleven codes are mostly about highway and road emergency situations. They range from accidents, road crimes, car chases, traffic, transportation assistance, automobile repairs, parades, and escort or convoy protection. It would be difficult for operatives to drive while reporting road updates, especially when mounted on a motorcycle. This is where scanner radio communication codes come in handy.

For Short and Simple Reports

The nature of work the California Highway Patrol group (CHPG) has, keeps it out on the main roads and highways often. These are noisy places where short and simple radio communication codes are needed. Instead of saying, “There is a vehicle collision at the corner of interstate 24 and highway 7. We need an ambulance, quick! There may be casualties!” the operative can simply say, “11-79 at i-24 and highway 7. Possible 11-44.” With such short and simple police scanner eleven codes, the dispatcher gets the whole picture. Immediate and accurate help is then dispatched.

For Calming Down a Tense Situation

Police scanner eleven codes are also used to keep sensitive information from becoming public knowledge. For instance, a bomb is sniffed by a k-9 dog inside a public bus and there are passengers on board. A CHPG operative would know that, but not the passengers. To report the emergency update, the law enforcer would use radio communication codes. Even if the people hear the updates, they won’t panic.

For Protecting Classified Information

Radio communication codes are supposed to be exclusive to law enforcement operatives. But sometimes, the signals can be intercepted by lawless elements adept at electronic technology. When this happens, police scanner eleven codes are useful. They keep vital information confidential, though communicated in the hearing of unauthorized persons. Or, reporting of sensitive update details can be shifted to a landline transmission. This is done by simply saying, “11-58.” The receiver of the code will immediately understand that radio communication codes are being intercepted. Telephone communication will have to be resorted to.

For Quick Back-Up

A highway patrolling job can be quite hazardous. One can never know what danger may be waiting out there in the byways and highways. In case an immediate back-up support is needed, a mere “11-99” radio report is all that is needed. The station will immediately dispatch reinforcement to the location.

Common Police Scanner Eleven Codes

11-6        Illegal discharge of firearms

11-7        Prowler

11-8        Person down

11-10     Take report

11-12     Dead animal

11-13     Injured animal

11-14     Animal bite

11-15     Ball game in street

11-17    Wires down

11-24     Abandoned vehicle

11-25     Traffic hazard

11-25X   Female motorist need assistance

11-26     Abandoned bicycle

11-27     D.D.L. report with driver held

11-28     Registration request with driver held

11-29     Subject has no record

11-30    Incomplete telephone call

11-31     Person calling for help

11-40     Advise if ambulance needed

11-41     Ambulance needed

11-42     No ambulance needed

11-43     Doctor required

11-44     Coroner required

11-45     Attempted suicide

11-46     Death report

11-47     Injured Person

11-48     Furnish transportation

11-51     Escort

11-52     Funeral detail

11-54     Suspicious vehicle

11-55     Officer being followed by auto

11-56     Office being followed by auto dangerous persons

11-57     Unidentified auto at assignments

11-58     Radio monitored, use phone

11-59     Intensive attention: high hazard, business areas

11-60     Attack in high hazard area

11-65     Signal light out

11-66     Defective traffic signal light

11-70    Fire Alarm

11-71     Fire Report

11-78     Aircraft accident

11-79     Accident – ambulance sent

11-80     Accident – major injuries

11-81     Accident – minor injuries

11-82     Accident – no injuries

11-83     Accident – no detail

11-84     Manual traffic control requested

11-85     Tow truck requested

11-86     Bomb threat

11-87     Bomb found

11-94     Pedestrian stop

11-95     Routine traffic stop

11-96     Checking suspicious vehicle

11-97     Time/security check on patrol

11-98     Meet ____

11-99     Under attack, immediate assistance required!

Police Scanner Ten Codes

What are Police Scanner Ten Codes?

These codes are used to replace actual words or phrases used in radio communications. They are often used by police and fire departments. In most cases, they are used in ambulances during emergencies. Those involved in rescue operations during disasters also use them. Among popular police scanner ten codes is “10-4.” It means a radio message or signal is received loud and clear.

Why “Ten” Codes?

There are some dozens (not just ten) of police scanner ten codes generally in use today. They are all prefixed with the number ten. Hence, the term “ten” codes. “Ten” was chosen way back in 1937. It was the time when radio communication codes began to be used. This was to hasten police reporting through radio and remedy the problem of radio static. The first few seconds of transmission was blurred by static. Hence, to make sure messages were not affected by it, a preliminary code “10” was first sent immediately followed by the main code.

Common Police Scanner Ten Codes

10-00     Officer down, all patrols respond

10-0       Caution

10-1       Reception poor

10-2       Reception good

10-3       Stop transmitting

10-4       Message received, understood

10-5       Repay message

10-6       Change channel

10-7       Out of service

10-7A    Out of service, home

10-7B     Out of service, personal

10-7C     Out of service (court)

10-8       In service

10-9       Repeat message

10-10     Off duty

10-10A Off duty, home

10-11     Identify frequency

10-12     Visitor(s) present

10-13     Weather and road advice

10-14     Citizen w/suspect

10-15     Prisoner in custody

10-15m  Prisoner in custody (mental case)

10-16     Pick up prisoner

10-17     Request for gasoline

10-18     Equipment exchange

10-19     Return(ing) to station

10-20     Location

10-21     Telephone

10-21A  Advise home I will return at ____

10-21B   Call your home

10-22     Disregard last assignment

10-23     Stand by

10-24     Request car-to-car transmit

10-25     Do you have contact with ____

10-26     Clear

10-27     D.D.L. report

10-28     Registration request

10-29     Check for wants

10-29A   Check wants, subject (PIN)

10-29C   Check complete, subject (NCIC)

10-29F   Subject wanted, felony

10-29H Hazard potential from subject

10-29M Subject wanted, misdemeanor

10-29R  Check wants and record, subject (PIN, CJIC)

10-29V Vehicle wanted

10-30     Doesn’t conform to regulations

10-31     Is lie detector available?

10-32     Drowning

10-33     Alarm sounding, audible

10-34     Assist at office

10-35     Time check

10-36     Confidential information

10-37     Identify operator

10-38     Your destination

10-39     Can ____ come to the radio?

10-40     Is ____ available for phone call?

10-42     Check the welfare of/at ____

10-43     Call a doctor

10-44     Station _________ is calling your residence

10-45     Condition of patient?

10-45A Condition of patient: good

10-45B Condition of patient: serious

10-45C Condition of patient: critical

10-45D Condition of patient: dead

10-46 Advise if ________ available at phone

10-47 Officer ______ is available at _________

10-48 Not available for assignment/out for coffee or whatever

10-49     Proceed to ____

10-50     Under influence of drugs

10-51     Drunk

10-52     Resuscitator

10-53     Man down

10-54     Possible dead body

10-55     Coroner case

10-56     Suicide

10-56A Suicide attempt

10-57     Missing person

10-59     Security check

10-60     Lock-out

10-61     Miscellaneous public service

10-62     Meet a citizen

10-62A Take a report from a citizen

10-62B Civilian standby

10-63     Prepare to copy

10-64     Found property

10-66     Suspicious person

10-67     Person calling for help

10-68     Telephone for police

10-70     Prowler

10-71     Shooting

10-72     Gun involved

10-73     How do you receive?

10-79     Bomb threat

10-80     Explosion

10-86     Any radio traffic?

10-88     Assume post

10-91     Animal

10-91A Animal, stray

10-91B Animal, noisy

10-91C Animal, injured

10-91D Animal, dead

10-91E   Animal, bite

10-91G Animal, pickup

10-91J   Animal, pickup collect

10-91L   Animal, leash law violation

10-91V Animal, vicious

10-95     Requesting ID tech unit

10-97     Arrived at scene

10-98     Available to assign

10-99     Warrants or stolen vehicle indicated

10-100   Misdemeanor warrant

10-109   Suicide

10-200   Drugs involved

10-600   Livestock down

10-1000 Felony warrant

Common Police Scanner Abbreviated Codes

A          Adult

A          No rain expected

AC       Aircraft crash

AC       Animal control

ADW   Assault with a Deadly Weapon

APB     All points bulletin

ASAP   As soon as possible

AID      Accident Investigation Detail

AV       Abandoned vehicle

B           Rain Expected

BLK       Block

BKG       Booking

BO           Out of Order

BOL Be   On the Lookout

CP            Complaining Party

CPD         City or County Property Damage

CT            Court

DB            Dead Body

DMV       Department of Motor Vehicles Information requested

E-B          Eastbound

ETA        Estimated Time of Arrival

EXP        Expired

FTA        Failure to Appear

GOA       Gone on Arrival

GTA       Grand Theft Auto

INJ        Injury

I/S         Intersection

J             Juvenile involved

LIC        License

LT/T     Left turn

M/C      Motorcycle

NCIC    National Criminal Information Center

NIA      Non-Injury Accident

OBS      Observed

OD        Off Duty

OP LIC   Operator’s License

OT            Over Time

PAB         Policy Administration Building

PI             Personal Injury

POSS       Possession

QT           Secrecy required

RES DIST    Residential District

ROF              Report on File

RP                 Reporting Party

SPD              Speed

UL                Unable to Locate

UTL             Unable to Locate

VEH            Vehicle

VIN            Vehicle Identification Number

WIT            Witness

X                  Female involved

45/25 MPH   clocked speed in zone

Common Police Scanner Internal Codes

Code 1      Acknowledge this Call

Code 2     Proceed Immediately with lights/without Siren

Code 3     Proceed Immediately with lights and Siren

Code 4     No further assistance required

Code 5     Stakeout – Uniformed Officers stay away

Code 6     Out of Vehicle for Investigation

Code 7     Out of Service to eat

Code 8     Fire Alarm

Code 9      Answering ring-down

Code 10    Bomb Threat

Code 12    Patrol your District and report extent of damage

Code 13    Major Disaster Activation

Code 14    Resume normal Operation

Code 20   Notify News Media to respond

Code 22   Restricted Radio Traffic

Code 30   Officer needs assistance – Emergency

Code 33   Emergency Traffic on Air – All units stand by

Code 43   TAC forces committed

Code 100  In position to intercept Suspect

Units Adam:    Morning shift

Baker:    Swing shift

Charlie:   Day shift

Officers Adam:   Auxiliary

Charlie:   Captain

Denver:   Detective

David:   Detective

Frank:   Felony Investigation

Henry:   Homicide

John:   Juvenile

Lincoln:  Lieutenant

Nora:   Narcotics

Paul:    Patrol

Sam:    Sergeant

X-Ray:   Burglary

Victor:   Vice/Narcotics

King:    Helicopter

The Police Scanner Phonetic Alphabet

A- Alpha

B- Bravo

C- Charlie

D- Delta

E- Echo

F- Foxtrot

G- Golf

H- Hotel

I-  India

J- Juliett

K- Kilo

L- Lima

M- Mike

N- November

O- Oscar

P- Papa

Q- Quebec

R- Romeo

S- Sierra

T- Tango

U- Uniform

V- Victor

W- Whiskey

X- X-Ray

Y- Yankee

Z- Zulu

Common Police Scanner Medical Fire/Status Codes

Code 10    Critical Trauma case

Code 20   Acute Trauma case

Code 30   Trauma case

Code 40   Serious case (IV started)

Code 50   Basic transport (not serious)

Code N     Newsworthy event

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