What Are Police Radio Codes?

What Are Police Radio Codes?

Police radio codes, also known as "10 codes," are assigned numbers used to transmit information between police officers and the dispatch center. The "10" is a prefix, indicating that the following numbers are a coded message. The codes transmit information such as an officer's status and location.

The 10 codes can vary between police departments, but a few are universal. For example, "10-8" means the officer is in service and on the way to a call. "10-7" indicates that officer is available. "10-4" stands for message received. Asking an officer his "10-20" means you want his location. An officer noting "10-19" is returning to police headquarters.

Codes can also be used to transmit or obtain information. An officer can ask for a "10-21" which means he wants you to call someone on a land line. The phone number, if obtained at the scene, is transmitted after the code. If an officer is on a traffic stop, he may ask for a "10-28." This is a request for vehicle registration information.

Other 10 codes are used to indicate crimes or problems. A "10-80" indicates an officer is chasing a suspect, while "10-93" means the officer has set up a roadblock. Anyone who is pulled over and hears the officer start talking about a "10-31" should be prepared to take a breathalyzer test.