Is it a 10-4? Police Codes Changing to Plain Language
One of the problems that occurred during 9/11 was the confusion caused by responders — police, firefighters, sheriffs’ offices, security — using different codes to communicate. You know: all those 10-4s (10-code it’s called). But the problem extends beyond just 9/11.
For example, the Chattanooga Police Department changed to “plain talk” a few years ago when it became clear that agencies couldn’t communicate with each other during natural disasters. Mike Williams, assistant chief of police, stated. “You had 10 different radio systems, and everybody had different codes. It was a nightmare.”
To help solve this problem, on September 10, 2009, FEMA issued the National Incident Management System Alert, which advocates that agencies adopt “plain talk” and relinquish the use of codes. FEMA felt that too many variations in meanings have rendered 10-codes and call signals not only useless, but dangerous.
In response, the Department of Homeland Security recently published the “Plain Language Guide ‚Äì Making the Transition from 10-Codes to Plain Language” to help police (and others) move toward using plain language to communicate with each other.This confusion and danger can easily be mitigated by understanding and consistency — something that “plain talk” or plain language does for us all.
To illustrate the problem, here’s a brief list of some of the codes and the various meanings they have.
|10-00||Officer Down, All Patrols Respond
Unit logging off (NZ Police)
Officer Needs Help
Unable to Copy
Call your command (New York City)
Message to all units (NZ Police)
OK For Now, Continue With Status Checks
Return to your command (NYC)
Unit is en route to job (NZ Police)
|10-3||Ok, No Further Status Checks Needed
Call your dispatcher (NYC)
Report to Headquarters
Hold all radio traffic, emergency on channel
Busy – Standby
Unit Available (NZ Police)
Repeat your last message (NZ Police)