Spulman Mysteries Police Jargon

4311868 / Pixabay

The Spulman County Mysteries book series includes a fair amount of police jargon. Usually, the context for jargon usage is relatively clear, but there may be times when you have questions about what a specific phrase or term means. I offer, as an aid, the following list of jargon and terms commonly found in the novels.

Please keep in mind that police are often quite vulgar (especially with one another) and can be sarcastic and skeptical individuals. The list of terms below has been sanitized for public and age-appropriate viewing. Where a more vulgar form of a phrase might be used, you can be sure that’s the form officers are likely to employ amongst themselves and when dealing with a hostile or belligerent suspect.

It was (and in many cases still is) common practice for police and sheriff officers to use various codes and signals as they communicate. You would often see or hear phrases like 10-11 or other short-form expressions intended to make radio communication precise and succinct. This worked well within a particular law enforcement agency, but it failed when multiple agencies were forced to communicate during times of emergency. It turns out nearly every law enforcement agency used a different set of these codes or signals.

As a result, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been pressing all emergency responders to use regular English language instead of the more succinct forms of communication. This is slowly being adopted by agencies throughout the country, though officers are often reluctant to change their earlier habits. Being fluent in the short forms of expression meant you were a member of an elite team. That badge of distinction is slowly but inexorably being displaced by the use of common English forms of communication.

Within the Spulman Mysteries, I have elected to use codes, signals, and other short forms of expression only sparingly. This leaves only English and police jargon as the primary means of expression. Emergency responders still use jargon extensively and that is reflected in the books. The list of jargon I have compiled below explains the intended message conveyed by officers who use these phrases and acronyms.

Let me know if you find any terms in the novels that aren’t listed below.


Term Meaning
10-4 I understand, gotcha
AC Aircraft Crash
Adam Henry Asshole
Affirmative Yes
All About Obsessed (“He was all about explaining why he was never there.”)
Amateur Night Any holiday evening when people not used to drinking get drunk.
ASAP As soon as possible
Ass Clown Any person who is acting like a dumb ass
B&E Breaking and Entering
Baby Cop Rookie or newbie
Baby Dick Juvenile Detective
Back Seat Diaper Whatever is put on the back seat to protect against whatever a drunk might emit.
Back to the Barn Going back to the station
Background Noise in the background prevented hearing radio traffic (“I had background so I couldn’t copy that.”
Badge Bunny Police Groupie – someone who loves to date cops.
Bags Bean bag rounds
Bang Switch Trigger. “Keep your booger hook off the bang switch.”
Barney Small town cop
Batting Practice Using a batton repeatedly, usually against a combative suspect
Be Advised I’m telling you what’s going to happen
Beach Time Being suspended
Beat Feet Ran from police
Berries and Cherries Lights on a patrol car
Bird Helicopter – sometimes called a ghetto bird.
Black and White A police vehicle painted black and white
Blacked Out All lights on the vehicle are turned off
Blue Falcon Someone who makes other cops look bad in front of others.
Blue Flamer A rookie cop trying to prove themselves. An overeager newbie
BOLO Be on the lookout
Boot Rookie officer
Bottom Feeder Defense Attorney
Box (or The Box) Jail
Brasshole Any senior officer who is an asshole
Bravo Sierra Bull Stuff
Brodie High-speed u-turn (“I pulled a brodie when I saw him fly by.”)
Cage Kicker Jailer
Call History Request for information about the nature of prior calls to a given address. Allows officers to have some idea what they might be getting into at that address
Cap His/Her Ass Shoot someone
CCW Carrying Concealed Weapon
Cerebral Rectitus Head up the ass (“he’s suffering from cerebral rectitus.”
Check Six Watch your back
Checks Please run warrant checks on these individuals
Chopper Machine gun
CIR Critical Incident Report
Close/Clear my last I’ve finished my last stop. Usually followed by a disposition e.g.
– with a report
– with citation(s)
-HBO – responding officer handled it
-Unfounded – no justifiable cause
-ROA – Referred to an outside agency
Cluster F*** Poorly organized event
Cocktail Exit Death due to using a mixture of drugs and alcohol
Cold Paper A case report from an old crime
Copped to It Admitted doing it
Copper Migraine Bullet in the head. “Cause of death was a copper migraine.”
Copy I understand, gotcha, or handle (copy a call)
County Mounty County deputy
CP Complaining Party
Crackatute Prostitute on crack
Crack-ho A prostitute who works for drugs
Creds Credentials
Creeper Peeping Tom
Crotch Rocket Street Bike
CSU Crime Scene Unit
DB Dead Body
D-Dub Driving while intoxicated
Dear Chief Letter A note a cop has to write to his superior to account for a mistake he or she made.
Deck Floor
Deep six it Lose it.
Defective Incompetent detective
Departmental Department issued firearm.
Deuce Driving under the influence
Dirt Bag Bad guy
Dirty Bite When a K-9 bites after being called off
Disregard Ignore what I just said
Disturbance Fight
DNA Do Not Approach
DOC Disorderly Conduct
Donor Cycle A motorcycle being operated by a person who will likely be an organ donor in the near future.
DRE Drug Recognition Experts – Someone who can judge if someone is hight on drugs.
Drop Mag. Eject magazine from your pistol
DRT Dead Right There (not normally used over radio)
Dump Light Shine light (“dump some light on the door.”
DWHUA Driving with your head up your ass
En Route On the way
ETA Estimated Time of Arrival
Expedite Get something done quickly (Expedite response)
FIDO Forget it, Drive On – At the end of a shift, why stop to work longer on a minor incident
Flip One suspect confesses and implicates another.
Flying Colors Exhibiting gang colors
Flying/Screaming Something moves very fast (“He came screaming around the corner…”)
Four Fingers Code 4 (no further assistance needed)
FTP Failure to pay (usually a fine).
Full Boat Entire shift showed up for work
Get a meet Meet with a coworker
Get Small Runaway or hide. “Get small before the sergeant sees you.”
Good Bad. A good accident is a particularly nasty one. Same with sex assault and brawls. Nobody wants to work a fender bender, so that’s not a good accident.
Good For The suspect probably committed the crime (He’s good for it.)
GSR Gun Shot Residue
GSW Gunshot wound
GTA Grand Theft Auto
Hanging Paper Writing multiple citations
Hard Striper An officially promoted (not acting) corporal or sergeant
Hog Tie Put a person in 4-point restraints
Hook Tow truck, Arrest Someone
Hookem and Bookem Handcuff and book
Hose Dragger Firefighter
Hots and a cot Jail (three hot meals and a bed)
House Mouse An officer who doesn’t go out on patrol.
In-Service Beginning or returning to service
Irish Pendant Dangling Thread (uniform problem)
Juvie Juvenile suspect. Juvenile detention center
Keyholder The person who is responsible for dealing with an alarm at a building.
Land Shark Large and vicious dog, usually a guard dog.
Light Up Initiate a stop by turning on emergency lights
Lot Lizard A prostitute who works truck stops
LVNR Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint (Bare naked chokehold)
Mag. Pistol magazine
ME or M.E. Medical Examiner
Minute A period of time ranging anywhere from the next second to the day the sun explodes.
Mirandize Read a person his or her rights.
Mope An unsavory person who wanders or sulks around.
Nasty Gram Written reprimand
Negative Contact Couldn’t find the person in question
Night Dick A detective assigned to night duty. Responds to whatever patrol officers can’t handle.
OD Overdose
Onboard Carrying something (He’s got meth onboard)
Open Beat The shift is one officer short (Beats Plus 2 means two officers short)
Open Mic. Inadvertently keying the microphone for long periods.
OT Overtime
P&P Probation and Parole
P.O.V. Personally Owned Vehicle
Paper Report (I spent two hours writing paper last night)
Party Person
Patrol Poodle Someone who tries to date cops, especially patrol officers. Generally an unattractive badge bunny.
PI Personal Injury
Pimping Out Suckering a suspect into striking an officer
Pled Out Accepted a plea bargain
Power Up Shine line in suspects eyes to disorient them
Prelim Preliminary Hearing in court
Put a rush on the bus Hurry up with the ambulance, there is a critical need.
PV Patrol Violation
Rabbit Someone who runs from the police. Someone who always runs when the police show up.
Reality Challenged Mentally challenged or irrational person
Respond to Go to
Richard A Dick
Richard Cranium Dick Head
Riding the Lightning Tazed (He went down hard after riding the lightening)
Roller Moving stolen vehicle with occupants
RP Reporting Party. The person who reported a crime (Who’s the RP?)
Rush Request for priority on radio traffic
Sam Browne Utility Belt
Screen Test When a suspect in the back of the car is an Adam Henry and officer might speed up then slam on the brakes, causing the suspect to face plant into the wire screen behind the front streets. Also called “A dog ran in front of my car” which is what the officer might say if the suspect complained of brutality.
Script Prescription (“got a script for those pills?”)
Shanked Someone forced me to be do something I shouldn’t have to do.
Show me in. In service and available
SID Scientific Investigation Division
Skated Acquitted of criminal charges, especially over a technicality.
Slick-top Supervisor patrol vehicle without a light bar
Sosh SSN (the o is pronounced like a long o)
Squirrelly Acting strange, nervous, fidgety
Squirrel Bait Someone who is nuts
Stable The standard response to a Status request.
Standby Hold in place
Status Request for officer to provide status. If status is not provided after several attempts, other offices will be dispatched to the scene.
Stick Batton
STOLO Stolen Vehicle
Street Justice Striking a suspect more times than necessary
Street Lawyer Someone who professes to know the law but doesn’t
Summons Ticket
Suspect Bad Guy (most cops don’t call them perps).
SWAG Scientific Wild Ass Guess
Swivel Head People looking around when they spot a cop or are afraid one may be nearby
T & L Report Time and Location. Alibi Sheet for a possible suspect.
Tango Thank You
TC (TC’d) Traffic Collision (The vehicle crashed)
The Log Responsible officer. The office with the log writes the original police report.
Throw Down Fistfight (“these two guys were throwing down in the steps”)
Thunderstick Shotgun or any long gun
Toad Someone who is frequently arrested
TOD Time of Death
Torque Off Go Ballistic, become enraged
Trey Eight .38 pistol
Trip Zeros/Eggs Blood alcohol level of 0.00. (He blew eggs on his breath test.”)
Trout Trooper Office assigned to enforce fish and game laws
Twenty Subject’s Home. Location. “What’s your twenty?”
Twist-Off Go Ballistic, become enraged
UNSUB Unknown Subject (Unknown Suspect)
Walked On Talked over, especially on the radio (“He walked on my 10-20)
Wants on Please run warrant checks on these individuals
Whiskey Tango White Trash.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot WTF
WOFF Written Off. Usually refers to property an insurance copy has written off.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *