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  1. #1
    Terminator's Avatar
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    Virginia State Police get rid of the 10-codes, switch to plain language

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia State Police are adjusting to a new law enforcement language: plain English.
    This month, state police abandoned the "10 codes" used by generations in law enforcement and celebrated by popular culture in movies such as "Convoy" and the CB radio craze of the 1970s.

    Over the years, however, individual police departments have adapted the codes in their own ways, creating confusion when they have to work together.

    For months, officials in Richmond have worked with police and firefighters to come up with a substitute for 10 codes, finally deciding on a statewide "common language protocol." In other words: English.

    "My first reaction was, `You've got to be kidding me,'" said Trooper Steve Mittendorff, 26, as he patrolled the Dulles Toll Road. "How am I going to stop using something I've been using all these years?"

    The switch underscores why it is so challenging for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to create a national system of emergency response. In Arlington, for instance, "10-13" means "officer in trouble." To Montgomery County police in Maryland, the same code means "request wrecker."

    Virginia State Police encountered the same problem deploying troopers to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

    "Their 10-codes didn't match ours," Maj. Robert Kemmler said. "We kind of had to come up with, or use, common language on their radio system because they didn't understand what we were talking about."

    The "10-code" system dates to the 1920s when police radios had only one channel. Officers needed to relay information succinctly to avoid tying up the system. But over time, a Babel of codes developed.

    The system worked fine until the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon. Law enforcement agencies found that sometimes they were speaking in different tongues.

    "You didn't know what they were talking about," Capt. Richard Slusher, communications officer for the Arlington Fire Department, said of other responders.

    After Sept. 11, federal Homeland Security officials required first responders to use plain English in events involving other agencies. Still, many officers used the codes for day-to-day use within their departments.

    Some officials fear such officers will revert to their own 10 codes under the stress of a disaster. That's why Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine decided to urge all first responders to switch to plain language full time.

    The demise of the "10 codes" is being lamented by some in law enforcement who say the codes have a certain cachet.

    "The jargon is one of the things that sets the cops apart," said Tim Dees, a former police officer who is editor of Officer.com, a Web site run out of Beltsville, Md.

    "It adds," he said, "a certain mystique."
    Last edited by Terminator; 11-13-06 at 03:34 PM.

  2. #2
    Standard Dave's Avatar
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    10-4 you want me to stop using the codes.

    just for interest a 10-13 where I work is a road traffic collision.

  3. #3
    Growler's Avatar
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    10 codes cuts down on radio traffic. A universal set or statewide set of ten codes might be more appropiate. And a set for UK folks would help narrow down the confusion on their side of the lake.

  4. #4
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    We had to stop using 10 codes last Nov, it sucks. We still all slip and use them every once in a while.

    The one that really get me is status checks.

  5. #5
    Ducky's Avatar
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    Is that the guy I need to slap for the joke of a site that is O.com???
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  6. #6
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    I personally like using 10 codes. They shorten sentences and cut down on radio time as stated earlier.

    Plus, if you stop a person and run them over your radio and they come back 29P, can you imagine what it will sound like to them if plain words are used? You better stretch cause you're gonna be chasing that person down in a foot pursuit!
    Calm Like A Bomb...

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  7. #7
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    Our "Telecommunications Director" mandated that all agencies go to plain talk when communicating with dispatch.

    It SUCKS!

    We have officers (and dispatchers) that couldn't be brief and to the point with 10 codes, and now they're using plain talk.

    We just switched our main frequency to unencrypted, so we don't have any OpSec without some kind of code over the air.

    The Telecommunications Dictator told our Chief that FEMA mandated that all agencies switch to plain talk in order to keep getting federal grants. We tried to tell the Chief that it was only required during multijurisdictional events, but he hasn't let us go back to codes.

    If the problem is different codes between agencies, why doesn't FEMA produce a uniform set of 10 codes for use nation wide? I only have one standard frequency to speak to dispatch, unless I switch to another agency's channel, so I need brevity to keep my channel available.

    Man this is a sore spot with me.

  8. #8
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    We use plain language not 10 codes here we are also on plain VHF for routine radio traffic and everyone has a scanner. Our Sheriff wants the people of the county to know what his deputies are doing so no 10 codes, which sucks for serving warrants.

  9. #9
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    Its been funny listening to the VSP trying to change over. The whole state is supposed to but I havent heard anything yet so I hope we dont
    "And don't go home, and don't go to eat, and don't play with yourself. It wouldn't look nice on my highway", Buford T. Justice

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  10. #10
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    We are suppose use plain english during multi-agency stuff like if fire is involved and crap like that. We got the "FEMA says so" excuse as well. It would be very hard to quit using 10 codes all together. That would suck.
    Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight. -- Psalm 144:1






  11. #11
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    Gosh, hope we don't drop them cuz I just got the list today to have them memorized in the next two weeks lol
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  12. #12
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    i think using plain language can be dangerous to the officer. if i roll up on a situation, and i get that feeling...like the shits gonna hit the fan, but i dont want the people i just stopped knowing i have that feeling, i like speaking 10 codes so they are not going to understand what im up to.

    i especially dont need dispatch telling me in plain english while the suspect is right next to me that the guy has 2 open warrants through the county for cds manufacturing. it takes away my tactical advantage, cause now he knows i know...and i feel that would cause more fights and/or foot chases.

    i want him to know what im willing to tell him, when im willing to tell him.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducky View Post
    Is that the guy I need to slap for the joke of a site that is O.com???
    No...reading Tim's posts on O.Com, he seems like a pretty decent guy. He was brought on by the O.Com "Wizards" after much complaining from the membership.
    "To the German commander: 'Nuts!' The American Commander" - General Tony McAuliffe, 101st Airborne Division

  14. #14
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    personally, I would agree that a universal set of codes would be the smartest bet...

    all LEO's could communicate easily
    it'd be faster than plain english
    not just any ol' BG would fully understand it

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  15. #15
    Trojan 42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Growler View Post
    10 codes cuts down on radio traffic. A universal set or statewide set of ten codes might be more appropiate. And a set for UK folks would help narrow down the confusion on their side of the lake.
    There is No confusion this side of the lake. Well not in the biggest police force in the country. We use English, then there is NO chance of confusion.
    "Urgent Assistance" = "Urgent Assistance",
    "Armed Robbery" = "Armed Robbery", etc.
    Succinct and to the point. Accuracy, Brevity, Speed is all that is required. (and the need to speak English, obviously.)
    To be born an Englishman, is to be a winner in the Lottery of Life.



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  16. #16
    Aegis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trojan 42 View Post
    There is No confusion this side of the lake. Well not in the biggest police force in the country. We use English, then there is NO chance of confusion.
    "Urgent Assistance" = "Urgent Assistance",
    "Armed Robbery" = "Armed Robbery", etc.
    Succinct and to the point. Accuracy, Brevity, Speed is all that is required. (and the need to speak English, obviously.)
    Just out of curiosity, are your radio frequencies available to the general public? Not being snarky, just wondering. I know there are some significant differences in the way Law Enforcement operates between the States and the UK.

    As far as plain speech/English, some of the people in my department are not very articulate or concise. They have a tendency to think out loud as they speak on the radio, which leads to radio traffic that is longer than it should be and ties up our one shared frequency so that an officer with emergency traffic can't get the air. I think we could correct these character flaws in the affected personnel, but it would require more regular beatings.

  17. #17
    121Traffic's Avatar
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    Our agency, and just about everyone in our state except State Patrol, uses plain speak with the exception of a half dozen codes that differ from agency to agency, etc. I have never had a problem with someone overhearing their warrant info, mainly because our dispatchers ALWAYS ask "Clear to copy info?" That's what we call a clue to turn your packset down to only be heard by you. Let's face it....most mopes won't wait to hear that you copy the info. If they hear you run their name, they KNOW you're going to find out about their warrants.

    English, used succinctly and precisely, is just as fast or maybe in some cases a little bit slower than 10 codes. I think the additional airtime use is worth the sheer clarity that plain talk provides.

    I guess I wouldn't mind a nationwide 10-code system, but if you think that it will remain a "secret" language for long and bad guys won't know what any of it means, that's a falsity.
    "If anything worthwhile comes of this tragedy, it should be the realization by every citizen that often the only thing that stands between them and losing everything they hold dear... is the man wearing a badge." -- Ronald Reagan, in the wake of the deaths of 4 CHP troopers in the Newhall Incident, 1970

    The opinions given in my posts DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "121Traffic" on O/R.

  18. #18
    Trojan 42's Avatar
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    You can tune in if you know the right frequencies etc. Although some of the more specialised units have encrypted radios. As for the info being heard by the bad guys, most dispatchers ask if you are free to talk and a lot of cops here now wear an earpiece. The radios also have a 'panic' button that overides all others. Never caused me any probs in 30 years, although I'm sure using codes would have done.
    To be born an Englishman, is to be a winner in the Lottery of Life.



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  19. #19
    Aegis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trojan 42 View Post
    You can tune in if you know the right frequencies etc. Although some of the more specialised units have encrypted radios. As for the info being heard by the bad guys, most dispatchers ask if you are free to talk and a lot of cops here now wear an earpiece. The radios also have a 'panic' button that overides all others. Never caused me any probs in 30 years, although I'm sure using codes would have done.
    Thanks Trojan 42, for some reason I thought the Government in the UK had restricted certain frequencies for military and police use only.

  20. #20
    tapout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 121Traffic View Post
    Our agency, and just about everyone in our state except State Patrol, uses plain speak with the exception of a half dozen codes that differ from agency to agency, etc. I have never had a problem with someone overhearing their warrant info, mainly because our dispatchers ALWAYS ask "Clear to copy info?" That's what we call a clue to turn your packset down to only be heard by you. Let's face it....most mopes won't wait to hear that you copy the info. If they hear you run their name, they KNOW you're going to find out about their warrants.
    that is true...IF they are aware of the warrant. a lot of times people are unaware that they are wanted. when they are suddenly confonted with the news, fight or flight kicks in. ive had multiple situations where ive run a check on a guy who insists he has no warrants, and he comes back wanted...which have led to some pretty intense arrests.

    for the most part ill use plain language on the radio...until i feel 10 codes are more appropriate for the situation.

    and your right that the 10 codes can get figured out eventually anyway. or at least the ones with any interest to the bad guy. a wanted person is 10-99 here. its happened where dispatch has advised 10-99, and the guy instantly took off because he knows 10-99 is bad news for him.

 

 
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