SaveNetRadio is supported by readers. As an Amazon Associate, we earn small fee,from qualifying sales. Learn more

Police Scanner Codes and Police 10 Codes

Police scanner codes are commonly used by law enforcement across the world to communicate via two-way radio. By learning police scanner codes and police 10 codes, amateur radio operators can learn how to monitor law enforcement. 

Below you’ll find a guide to police scanner codes, police 10 codes, and some of the most common police abbreviations you’ll find. Keep reading to learn how to use these codes to identify police activity.  

As you’ll see in this guide, the scanner codes used by police are not held secret.

Also, Read Best Police Radio Scanners & Program a Radio Shack Police Scanner?

Any citizen with a scanner and an interest in monitoring radio transmissions can gain access to police communications by memorizing the codes in the sections below. 

Types of Police Scanner Codes

Many of the codes that police use are either 10 codes or 11 codes – these are standard codes that are used for much of the regular radio chatter you hear on police radios.

However, there are also miscellaneous codes for medical emergencies and triple or five-digit codes used to reflect specific situations, such as drunk or reckless driving scenarios. 

Police Reception and Standard Walkie-Talkie Codes

Police 10 codes that have to deal with general reception and communications on a two-way radio are some of the simplest police codes that you can learn. 

Rather than addressing police activity, these codes are used to determine the quality of radio communications and whether communications have been sent or received. 

Below you’ll find some of the most common police codes used to test communications and radio reception on two-way police communications: 

Reception Codes

Radio Reception CodesMeaning
10-1Reception poor
10-2Reception good
10-3Stop transmitting
10-4Message received, understood
10-5Relay message
10-6Change channel
10-7Out of service
10-11Identify frequency
10-73How do you receive it? 
10-86Any radio traffic?

Police Prisoner Codes

There are not many codes that are associated with prisoner transport or transfer. However, the two police 10 codes primarily associated with prisoners are listed in the table below: 

Prisoner Codes:

Police Prisoner CodesMeaning
10-15Prisoner in custody
10-16Pick up prisoner
Police Scanner Prisoner Codes

Police Scanner Emergency Codes

Even though emergencies call for ambulances, fire trucks, and other emergency vehicles, police are often the first responders on the scene to many types of emergency situations. 

Here is a table of the scanner codes that you’re likely to hear in police communications when they respond to a variety of different emergency situations from drowning and bomb threats to kidnappings and robberies.

Police Emergency CodeMeaning
10-50Under influence of drugs
10-53Man down
10-54Possible dead body
10-55Coroner’s case
10-56ASuicide attempt
10-72Gun involved
10-79Bomb threat
11-41Ambulance needed
11-44Deceased person
11-60Attack in high hazard area
11-78Aircraft accident
11-79Accident – ambulance sent
11-80Accident – major injuries
11-99Officer needs help
217Assault with intent to murder
245Assault with deadly intent
246Shooting at inhabited dwelling
417Person with a gun
417APerson with a knife
480Hit and run – felony
Code 11SWAT team call-up
Emergency Scanner Codes
Police Scanner Emergency Codes
Save Image for Emergency Scanner Codes

Police Scanner Animal Codes

Even though most municipal areas have animal control officers that are dedicated to dealing with stray or dangerous animals in the public, police are sometimes the first person contacted when animal-related issues arise. 

The codes that are used by the police to acknowledge that the issue at hand is animal-related are “10-91” codes, so if you hear “10-91” come over the radio, you’ll know an animal was somehow involved. 

Below you’ll find a list of these 10-91 code variations that are used for different animal-related scenarios: 

Animal Codes

Police Scanner Animal CodeMeaning
10-91AAnimal, stray
10-91BAnimal, noisy
10-91CAnimal, injured
10-91DAnimal, dead
10-91EAnimal, bite
10-91GAnimal, pickup
10-91JAnimal, pickup collect
10-91LAnimal, leash law violation
10-91VAnimal, vicious
Police Scanner Animal Codes

Police Scanner Vehicle Codes

Since many of the situations that police have to deal with are concerned with road patrols and traffic violations, many of the police scanner codes and police 10 codes they use are specifically designated for vehicle-related activities. 

Here is a table of the most common vehicle-related codes you’ll hear over a police scanner: 

Police Scanner Vehicle CodesMeaning
10-17Request for gasoline
10-24Request car-to-car transmit
10-29VVehicle wanted
10-30Doesn’t conform to regulations
11-24Abandoned vehicle
11-54Suspicious vehicle
11-55Office being followed by auto
11-85Tow truck required
11-96Checking suspicious vehicle
481Hit and run – misdemeanor
503Auto theft
504Tampering with a vehicle
595 Runaway car
Police Scanner Vehicle Codes
Police Radio Scanner Vehicle Codes
Save For Future Reference: Police Radio Scanner Vehicle Codes

Police Scanner Theft and Forgery Codes

Much of the crime that the police have to deal with is involving theft, forgery, and breaking and entering. Police are often called to respond to business robbery alarms and other signs of prowler activity. 

These are the codes you’re likely to hear over a police scanner if the police are investigating a theft, forgery, robbery, or burglar call: 

Theft and Forgery Codes

Police Scanner Theft and Forgery CodesMeaning
10-33Alarm sounding, audible
211ARobbery alarm
211SRobbery alarm, silent
459ABurglar alarm
459SBurglar alarm, silent
484Petty theft
487Grand theft
Police Scanner Theft and Forgery Codes

Petty Crime Police Scanner Codes

Not all of the crime that police have to deal with constitutes an emergency or serious issues like assaults and robberies. Police are also called into what are called “petty crimes” – crimes that are considered illegal, but not necessarily dangerous to the public. 

In the table below you’ll find some of the most common petty crime codes you’ll hear over police scanners: 

Petty Crime Police Scanner CodesMeaning
11-26Abandoned bicycle
288Lewd conduct
311Indecent exposure
314 Indecent exposure
374BIllegal dumping
507Public nuisance
586Illegal parking
594Malicious mischief
604Throwing missiles
653MThreatening phone calls
Petty Crime Police Scanner Codes

Police Scanner Traffic Codes

Along with dealing with traffic violations like speeding and reckless driving, police also have to occasionally direct traffic or deal with the aftermath of traffic accidents. 

Some of the traffic scenarios that police deal with are considered emergencies, such as a drunk or stoned driver. 

However, there are also police traffic codes for more mundane traffic problems like a malfunctioning signal light or routine traffic stops. 

Here are some of the most common police scanner codes that deal with traffic: 

Police Scanner Traffic CodesMeaning
11-25Traffic hazard
11-65Signal light out
11-66Defective signal light
11-84Direct traffic
11-95Routine traffic stop
502Drunk driving
505Reckless driving
510Speeding or racing vehicles
21958Drunk pedestrian on roadway
23101Drunk driving – injuries
23102Drunk driving
23105Driver under narcotics
23110Person throwing objects at vehicles
Police Scanner Traffic Codes

Police Scanner Medical Codes

Since police are often first responders, especially to the scene of traffic accidents, they are often involved in first aid response for any drivers or passengers wounded in traffic collisions. 

The police are also called to the scene of drug overdoses, fights, domestic violence, and other situations which might require medical intervention. 

Below you’ll find the police scanner codes associated with medical emergencies: 

Police Scanner Medical CodesMeaning
10-43Call a doctor
10-45Condition of patient?
10-45AGood condition (patient)
10-45BSerious condition (patient)
10-45CCritical condition (patient)
10-45DDead condition (patient)
10-54Possible dead body
10-55Coroner case
10-56ASuicide attempt
11-40Advise if ambulance needed
11-41Ambulance needed
11-42No ambulance needed
11-44Deceased person
Code 10Critical trauma case
Code 20Acute trauma case
Code 30Trauma case
Code 40Serious case (IV started)
Code 50Basic transport (not serious)
5150Mental case
Police Scanner Medical Codes

Do Amateur Radio Operators Use Police Scanner Codes?

While some novice radio operators might use 10 codes or police scanner codes over ham radio, this practice is heavily discouraged by more seasoned operators. 

Instead of 10 codes, amateur ham radio operators use a different set of codes known as “Q codes.” These codes are derived from Morse code and help differentiate amateur radio operators from police radio operators on open frequencies. 

It isn’t illegal for ham radio operators to use police codes. However, it is an easy way to single yourself out as an amateur radio operator. (Source: eInvestigate)

What Are Police Scanner Codes?

Police scanner codes are a series of shorthand codes based on letters and numbers that are used by law enforcement officers to quickly and discreetly pass information along two-way radio bands. 

Using police scanner codes can help conceal law enforcement activity from criminal elements and also allows police officers to communicate effectively with each other and with emergency dispatch while on the job. 

Where Did Police Scanner Codes Originate?

Police scanner codes date back to just before World War II in the 20th century. Police scanner codes were originally invented by the Association of Public-Safety Communication Officials. (Source: WikiHow)

Why Do Police Use Scanner Codes?

Police scanner codes are used for several different reasons. Here are just a few of the reasons that police have for using code on radio transmissions instead of regular speech: 

  • Discretion: Using code allows police to communicate via radio without transmitting the details of their movements and activities to those who are unfamiliar with the codes. Most average citizens do not know police scanner codes or listen to police radio.
  • Reduced radio chatter: By using a specialized code to communicate via radio, police reduce the amount of unrelated radio chatter that would otherwise clutter police lines of communication. This results in less distracting and more clear radio communications.
  • Speed: Communicating in a shorthand code allows police to communicate more quickly than they’d communicate in regular speech. This reduces response time and police reaction times in emergencies that require their help. 

Can You Listen to Police Scanners in the US? 

It is perfectly legal to use a scanner to listen in on police radio frequencies as a hobby. There are only a few specific instances where this practice might be illegal or discouraged: 

  • In vehicles: It is illegal in most areas for radio operators to both carry a police scanner in their vehicles and operate a police scanner while driving.
  • To intercept police activity: When police scanners are used by citizens to intervene in criminal activity without legal authority, this practice is called vigilantism. The punishment for vigilante activity varies from situation to situation depending on what actions are taken, but it is almost always illegal. (Source: LegalMatch)
  • To aid in a crime: If police scanners are used by criminals as a tool to commit crime, suspects can be charged with an additional crime for the act in several states such as California, New Jersey, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Nebraska. (Source: Zip Scanners)

Listening to police scanners can be entertaining and informative. However, it’s important to ensure that you’re doing so in a legal manner to avoid direct confrontations with the police.

Can You Listen to Police Scanners on a Ham Radio? 

Specialized scanners can be used to monitor police radio activity, but the average ham radio cannot pick up police communications. 

The reason for this is that amateur ham radios and police two-way radios typically operate on two different frequency bands that are mutually exclusive. 

There are a few exceptions where a ham radio may be able to pick up police scanner communications (Source: Field Radio): 

  • Extended receive coverage: Some more advanced ham radios might have extended receive coverage that allows them to access analog public safety channels used by police and other law enforcement.
  • Digital signals: Many police departments are swapping over to digital communications rather than radio communications. In this case, a ham radio that is set up to intercept digital signals will be able to access these signals.

Even if you have a ham radio that is capable of intercepting police scanner codes and police 10 codes, some police departments have moved to using encrypted frequencies. This makes it even more difficult for amateur radio operators to intercept their communications.

Police Scanner Codes Are Secure Communications

Since the average citizen on the street doesn’t monitor police communications via two-way radio, this makes them a fairly secure mode of communications for the police to use to keep their conversations to themselves. 

Knowing police scanner codes and police 10 codes can open amateur radio operators up to a whole world of real-time information about local police activities.

Give a Comment