Subject Material

Police Jargon

Published: 03.09.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017
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How does a US police officer sound? I’m sure you have heard it thousands of times watching detective series or action films. Why does he say affirmative when he means yes, why does he say DID instead of ‘drunk in ditch’ and why does he say that the party or object is moving when talking about a person?

NY Cop.photo.NY Cop 
These tasks are partly based on information from Lynda Sue Cooper True Blue and The ten (10) code and Police Radio codes

There are lots of codes, abbreviations and jargon in police language. How well do you know it?

Have a Go at These Codes

What do they mean? Read through the 'key' once or twice if this is new to you. Then have a go again!

Note that codes may vary over time and between districts.

  • Code Zero
  • Code One
  • Code Two
  • Code Three
  • Code Four
  • Code Four for now
  • Code Five
  • Code Six
  • Code Seven
  • Code Eight
  • Code Nine
  • Code Ten
  • Code Eleven
  • Code Twelve
  • Code Thirteen
Key
  • Code Zero -  Officer safety issue, use caution.
    For example, if another officer knows the person you're contacting, he may say, "Use code zero, he's combative."
  • Code One - I need a cover car quickly. (Less serious than a code eight)
  • Code Two - Normal response, no emergency equipment.
  • Code Three - Respond with lights and sirens.
  • Code Four- I'm okay or Are you okay?
  • Code Four for now - I'm okay for the moment, keep a cover car coming.
  • Code Five - Person with a warrant of some kind.
  • Code Six - Busy doing something. For example, "I'm code six with a suspicious vehicle at the corner of 38 and Kipling."
  • Code Seven - Out of service for lunch. Lunch is referred to as "taking a code 7."
  • Code Eight - Officer calling for help.
  • Code Nine - Traffic stop. Referred to as "going code 9 with a vehicle."
  • Code Ten - Only essential radio traffic on a given channel. For example, if there is an armed robbery in progress, the dispatcher will announce that there is a code 10 on channel one. Only officers responding to the robbery may speak on that channel.
  • Code Eleven - I've arrived on scene.
  • Code Twelve - I've left the scene and I'm back in service.
  • Code Thirteen - I'm at the Police Department. Also used in the form of a question: "Can you code 13 for a walk in report?"
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More on codes here: WikipediA: Police code 

Vocabulary Flashcards

Try the police vocabulary flash cards in the link collection. You will get 10 different expressions every time you reload the task (F5 or ctrl + r)

Act Out Crime Series Dialogue

Act out the following dialogues from CSI in groups of four or five. CSI is currently one of the most popular American crime series. This script is part of the pilot - the first episode made.

You will need actors for the following characters. Some of you may double and triple, as some of these characters have very few lines:

  • NARRATOR – reading what’s in the parenthesis
  • DISPATCHER and OFFICER SMITH and OFFICER ARVINGTON
  • CATHERINE WILLOWS and KRISTY HOPKINS and GIL GRISSOM
  • JIM BRASS and JUDGE COHEN
  • WARRICK BROWN

Copy and paste the text below into your text editor. Read on screen or print out the dialogue. Use a marker to locate you lines. Then act it out.

Script

==========================
CSI:  CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION
1X01:  PILOT
==========================
Characters
Narrator – reading what’s in the parenthesis
DISPATCHER and OFFICER SMITH and OFFICER ARVINGTON
CATHERINE WILLOWS and KRISTY HOPKINS: 
JIM BRASS
WARRICK BROWN
GIL GRISSOM
JUDGE COHEN
(End of scene #27)
( . . . . )
DISPATCHER: (over radio)  Catherine Willows, cut your lunch short.  You got a 428.
CATHERINE WILLOWS:  (to radio)  Copy.
*******************
(SCENE #28:)
[INTERIOR CSI - CAPTAIN BRASS' OFFICE -- NIGHT]
(WARRICK BROWN stands in front of JIM BRASS' desk.)
JIM BRASS: If you want me to call Judge Cohen at 4:00 in the morning you'd better bring me something more than a damn toenail.
WARRICK BROWN:  Captain, you've got to make that call.  If you don't, he'll walk.
JIM BRASS: And what do you got?  Hair fibers. Big deal.  So there was a struggle.  I mean, who gives a corn cob?  The guy was protecting his wife and kid.
WARRICK BROWN: I've got the toenail.  If I can get a warrant and match the husband's shaving to his toe I can prove that the suspect's foot was inside the victim's shoe.  That alone will establish it was murder.
JIM BRASS: The guy lived there, Warrick!  Maybe he put on the victim's sneaker and fetched the paper one morning.
WARRICK BROWN: I have a sworn statement stating he never wore the victim's shoe.
JIM BRASS: You don't even know the toenail was the vic's.
WARRICK BROWN: It can't be the vic's.  He was wearing socks.
JIM BRASS: Not good enough.
WARRICK BROWN: Not good enough?
(BRASS rises from his chair.)
JIM BRASS: Look, I said no, Brown, damn it!
(The phone rings.  WARRICK turns to leave the office  BRASS stops him.)
JIM BRASS: Hey, we're not done, Warrick.  You stay right there. 
(BRASS answers the phone.)
JIM BRASS: Criminalistics, Brass.
GIL GRISSOM: (from phone)  We've got a name on the suicide case, sir. He's local.
(BRASS looks at WARRICK.  They make eye contact and BRASS smirks.)
JIM BRASS: He's local, good.  I'll phone the judge for a warrant. 
(WARRICK gapes at hearing that.  BRASS hangs up.  Having gotten the response he wanted from WARRICK, BRASS dismisses him.)
JIM BRASS: Hey, Warrick, I guess we're all done now.  Hey, do you mind closing the door behind you?  I got to make an important call. 
(WARRICK storms angrily out of the office.  He shuts the door behind him.)
JIM BRASS: We'll talk about your little foot fetish later. 
(BRASS picks up the phone.)
JIM BRASS:  (to phone)  Judge Cohen, please ...
CUT TO:
**********************
SCENE #29:
[EXT. STREET NIGHT]
(OFFICERS surround a damaged vehicle that crashed into the sidewalk in front of a hotel.  NICK STOKES walks up to the OFFICERS.)
OFFICER SMITH: A white female, mid-20s.  Said she passed out behind the wheel. Thought you might want to check it out.
NICK STOKES: (to OFFICER SMITH)  All right. Thanks, brother. 
(NICK continues toward the car.  He puts his bag down and approaches the driver's window.  Inside a groggy woman with a cut on her forehead looks at him.)
NICK STOKES: Hi.  Nick Stokes, criminalistics.  Mind if I take a look?
(NICK leans in through the open car window.)
KRISTY HOPKINS: (moans)  I don't know what happened.  I remember this song that was playing on the radio.  I just don't remember passing out.
(NICK raises hi flashlight.)
NICK STOKES: Say "ahhh..."
(She's taken aback by the request.)
KRISTY HOPKINS: What?
NICK STOKES: You know, ahhh ...  (he opens his own mouth) ... ah ... ?
(She laughs.  She leans forward, opens her mouth and says "ahh".)
KRISTY HOPKINS: Ahhh ...
(NICK checks it out.)
NICK STOKES: No discoloration.  (She shakes her head.)  I don't see anything criminal here. 
(NICK straightens and speaks to OFFICER SMITH standing out of camera frame.  He points to his forehead.)
NICK STOKES: Take her to the hospital have her checked out.
******************
(SCENE #30:)
[EXTERIOR JUDGE COHEN'S RESIDENCE -- NIGHT]
(Sitting inside his car outside JUDGE COHEN'S residence, WARRICK stares at the
mansion and sighs.)
WARRICK BROWN: (mutters)  Well, might as well roll the dice; take that ass-whooping.
(He opens the car door and gets out of the car.)
(Behind him, an OFFICER car pulls up the driveway.  He siren flicks on and off.  WARRICK groans and turns around slowly.)
(The OFFICER car stops.  OFFICER ARVINGTON gets out of the car, stands behind the open car door with his gun drawn.)
OFFICER ARVINGTON:  Police!  Put your hands on top of your head and walk backwards towards me.
(WARRICK complies.)
WARRICK BROWN: I'm ID. Check the badge.  I'm from Criminalistics.
OFFICER ARVINGTON: Keep your mouth shut and follow my instructions. 
(In front of WARRICK, the front door opens.  JUDGE COHEN walks outside.)
OFFICER ARVINGTON: Now get down on your knees.
WARRICK BROWN: I'm not getting down on my knees for anybody. You can shoot me.
OFFICER ARVINGTON: I said get down on your knees!
JUDGE COHEN: Hey!  What the hell are you doing?  That's Warrick Brown from ID.  Put those guns away.
OFFICER ARVINGTON: Sorry, Judge, we got a call from a neighbor about a black man outside your house.  We responded.
JUDGE COHEN: All right, you caught him.  Congratulations.  Clear out of here before you wake the neighbors.
OFFICER ARVINGTON: Yes, sir.  (to radio)  Dispatch, please be advised Judge Cohen's residence, a code 4: False alarm.
(WARRICK turns to look at the JUDGE.)
JUDGE COHEN: Brown, what the hell are you doing?
WARRICK BROWN: I'm sorry, Judge.  Captain Brass wouldn't call you for a search warrant.  I got a whopper on the line with a 100-pound test.
JUDGE COHEN: You got a winner for me? 
(WARRICK laughs.)
JUDGE COHEN: I'll make it worth your while, you give me a name.
WARRICK BROWN: Favre.
JUDGE COHEN: Oh, I knew it. Listen, kid, I'll make a deal with you.  You put $5,000 down on the Pack for me I'll give you a blank warrant.  All I ask is that you have the ticket in my chambers before kickoff.  You do that, I'll square it with your Captain.
WARRICK BROWN: No problem, Judge.
(They shake hands.)

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Writing

Write a script in which you include some police jargon in the text. The story may be about the police stopping someone for a broken taillight, for speeding or maybe just to check their identification papers (ID).

In the intro you need to say something about where we are and what is going on – just like in the parentheses in the script above.

More CSI script here: http://www.twiztv.com/scripts/csi/

Discussion

What makes a good TV-series? Discuss and write down at least 5 points necessary for success. It might be fruitful to discuss these points based on TV-series that you watch and enjoy.
Finally, compare results with other groups and try to agree on a top five list for success in class.

Further research

Use the Internet to find more jargon within one of the following topics. You may also choose a topic of your own. Make a list of expressions and add an explanation. (Suggested length 10 – 30 words).

Present your list in class and discuss why these jargons are so popular and widespread (culture, identity, special needs, precise descriptions, save time, etc.)

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