Cops to talk "plain language" -- 10-4 is out

State police have begun talking like real people.

Troopers were ordered this week to dispense with speaking in code. Gone is the familiar 10-4 and the unfamiliar (to civilians, anyway) 10-46. Instead, when speaking over the police radio, the trooper is to just say, "disabled vehicle."

It's effort by the cops to streamline communications and make it easier for police in one jurisdiction to talk with police in another jurisdiction. The codes were originally designed to enable cops to exchange information quickly, and to keep prying ears from understanding what was being said.

But over the years, each agency came up with its own variation of the code. Cops in Anne Arundel, for example, couldn't understand what cops in Baltimore were talking about. That doesn't help when everyone is chasing the same suspect across the region.

I'm not sure yet whether other police agencies, such as the city's, plan to follow suit. Cops in Baltimore have over time developed their own definitions for the code. 10-7, for example, means out of service. But patrol officers use it for everything from "Going 10-7" to the bathroom, to the car in the accident is 10-7, to the gunshot victim is 10-7.

Yes, in Baltimore, "out of service" can mean you're dead.

Read the Maryland State Police explanation for this change.

Find a list of various signals used by different departments in the Baltimore area here.

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