The Ten Code

When Max and Skip left the police department, the department was still using the ten code to communicate with dispatch and among officers. The ten code is a series of 99 numbers preceded by a ten. For example, 10-1 is that the radio signal is weak and that it is not being received well enough to understand it. Any cop who has been around a while will start talking ten code, even when they are at home. One cop might casually call another and ask, “ten-six?” They are asking the other officer if they are busy at the moment. Sometimes they will leave off the ten, and just use the number. “Twenty-five me at the Hilton” means “meet me over at the Hilton parking lot.” So the conversation would go, “one-twenty-eight,” (the other officer’s call number), “are you ten-six?” The other officer answers, “negative,” then the first officer says, “twenty-five me at the Hilton.” Then the officers meet to supposedly exchange some information, but really they are just going to shoot the shit.

Cops don’t always use the ten code, though. Often they use plain speak, which is just saying what they want to say. There are some ten codes that are not always best used. For example, 10-21, send me a wrecker, and 10-22, send me an ambulance, can easily get confused, especially when the officer calling it out is all pumped up on adrenaline, performing CPR and trying to stop the blood flow on an accident victim who is bleeding out on the pavement in the middle of the night on a busy street. The last thing they want to do is to make a slip and get a wrecker instead of an ambulance. So they will dispense with the ten code and scream over the radio, “we need an ambulance.”

Max never understood why the department used the ten code. If it was supposed to be a secret, it wasn’t. Even back in the early eighties, before the internet, every police groupie out there had a scanner in one hand and the ten code in the other. Anyway, sometime after Max and Skip retired, the ten code started to go by the wayside. Today most of the younger cops have never heard of it.

Some of the most-used ten codes when Max and Skip were still patrolling the streets, which they still use today in their daily conversations, are in bold type below.

The Ten Code.

 10-1 Signal weak, Cannot copy
 10-2 Status is OK
 10-3 End transmission
10-4 Message received
 10-5 Relay
10-6 Busy
 10-7 Out of service
 10-8 In service
10-9 Repeat
 10-10 Fight
 10-11 Dog
 10-12 Standby
 10-13 Weather / Road conditions
 10-14 Report of prowler
 10-15 Civil disturbance
 10-16 Domestic Disturbance
10-17 Complainant
 10-18 Complete assignment
 10-19 Return to ….
 10-20 Location
 10-21 Call by phone
10-22 Disregard
 10-23 Arrived at the scene
 10-24 Assignment complete
10-25 Meet with Somebody
 10-26 Detaining subject to expedite
10-27 Drivers license information
 10-28 Registration information
 10-29 Check for records or warrants
 10-30 Illegal use of radio
 10-31 Crime in progress
10-32 Gun (Unless specified as other Weapon)
 10-33 Emergency
 10-34 Riot
 10-35 Major crime alert
 10-36 Correct time
 10-37 Suspicious subject
 10-38 Traffic Stop
 10-39 Urgent – use lights and siren
 10-40 Silent run – no lights and siren
 10-41 Beginning tour of duty
 10-42 Ending tour of duty
 10-43 Information
 10-44 Request permission to leave patrol
 10-45 Animal carcass
 10-46 Assist motorist
 10-47 Emergency road repairs needed
 10-48 Traffic signal needs repair
 10-49 Traffic light out
 10-50 Accident F – Fatality PI – Personal Injury PD – Property Damage
 10-51 Wrecker
 10-52 Ambulance
 10-53 Road blocked
 10-54 Livestock on highway
 10-55 Intoxicated Driver
10-56 Intoxicated Subject
 10-57 Hit and Run Accident
 10-58 Direct traffic
 10-59 Convoy or Escort
 10-60 In the Area
 10-61 Subject Near Officer
 10-62 Reply to message
 10-63 Prepare to copy
 10-64 Net clear
 10-65 Net message assignment
 10-66 Message canceled
 10-67 Clear to read net message
 10-68 Dispatch information
 10-69 Message Relayed
 10-70 Fire
 10-71 Advise nature of fire
 10-72 Report progress on fire
 10-73 Smoke report
 10-74 Negative
 10-75 In contact with
10-76 En-Route
 10-77 ETA (Estimated time of arrival)
 10-78 Assistance is Needed
 10-79 Coroner
 10-80 High speed pursuit
 10-81 In-view patrol
 10-82 Reserve lodging
 10-83 Welfare Check
 10-84 If meeting, advise ETA
 10-85 Will be late
 10-86 Request authorization for overtime
 10-87 Pick up checks for distribution
 10-88 Advise present telephone number
 10-89 Bomb threat
 10-90 Alarm
 10-91 Unnecessary use of radio
 10-92 Alarm
 10-93 Blockade
 10-94 Drag racing
 10-95 Subject in custody
10-96 Mental subject
 10-97 Check signal
 10-98 Jail break
10-99 Wanted or stolen

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