Cities Split On Eliminating 10-Code For Police


In cities across the nation, police departments are shifting from code talk to “plain speak” in radio communications. But for Oklahoma City police, the 80-year-old “10-code” system will remain 10-8 – or “in service” in plain speak, The Oklahoman reports. The 10-code, which dates to before World War II, was developed by law officers to relay information succinctly and secretly. Departments developed their own 10-codes so that 10-84 might mean “coffee break” in one police department and in another be code for “the people inside the coffee shop were possibly armed and dangerous.”

In 2005, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security orged eliminating the 10-codes to prevent confusion. A year later, after a backlash from some law enforcement personnel, former Secretary Michael Chertoff said it wasn't necessary to abolish the 10-code systems to comply with the new National Incident Management System. Still, some departments, such as Midwest City, Ok., went ahead with a “plain speak” conversion. Dallas made the jump last week. “There's really just no reason not to talk like a normal person,” said Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes. “For so many years, tradition has been the biggest roadblock to progress. This is a new movement with a common sense approach – talk in simple language so everyone can understand.”

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