Boston Police Radio Codes

This page is a compilation of information from around the web and from my having listened myself for several years. This information is provided solely for educational purposes, and with no guarantee of accuracy. These aren’t secret codes; they’re radio codes, similar to 10-codes (ten-codes), compiled from freely available information and from years of experience listening to Boston Police frequencies on a police scanner.

Table of Contents

This page has gotten kind of long; here’s some quick navigation aids:

Service Codes

You’ll often hear a lot of “Code 19″ and the like on Boston Police frequencies. Here’s what I’ve found the codes mean:

Code Meaning
Code 1 Vehicle maintenance
Code 2 Radio maintenance/repair
Code 3 Training
Code 4 Transporting a female
Code 5 Transporting a prisoner
Code 6 Off at a court appearance
Code 7 On escort duty
Code 8 School crossing duty
Code 9 Station (headquarters) assignment
Code 10 Meal break (you’ll usually hear this as “Am I clear for a 10?”)
Code 11 Serving warrant
Code 12 Serving warrant (“Warrant unit for pickup”)
Code 13 On assignment outside city limits
Code 14 MV Tow
Code 15 Traffic enforcement
Code 16 Moving violation / routine traffic stop
Code 17 Car wash
Code 18 At shooting range
Code 19 On foot patrol (a “walk and talk“)
Code 20 At gas station
Code 21 En-route / travel to and from post (I don’t hear this often)
Code 22 Covering emergency shelter
Code 23 Guarding prisoner
Code 24 Protective (Restraining) Order Service
Code 25 Community service meeting
Code 26 On duty at special event
Code 99 “Special Threat Situation,” involving (1) Barricaded Suspect, (2) Hostage situation, (3) Suicide threat, or (4) Execution of search or arrest warrants.
Code 100 Crowd Control Problem
Code 101 Fire / Explosion / Structural Collapse Incident
Code 102 Mass Casualty Incident
Code 103 Natural Disaster
Code 104 HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials) or WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction)
Code 105 Active Shooter “Rapid Deployment Protocol”

Code 99 – Code 105 are defined in the Department’s Rule 200: Critical Incident Management [PDF] and are not common.

Disposition Codes

You’ll often hear officers call in, “You can give me a 14 Paul” or whatnot. These are known as “Miscel” codes, short for “Miscellaneous” and pronounced “missile.” The first part is the number, the second is a letter. Here’s the breakdown…

Code Meaning
1 Burglar Alarm
2 Citizen Alarm (?)
3 Person calling for help
4 Escort
5 Fire Alarm
6 Domestic
7 Disturbance
8 Investigate Persons
9 Investigate Premises
10 Landlord-Tenant Dispute
11 Lockout
12 Noise complaint
13 Prowler
14 Police services (traffic)
15 Intoxicated person (“DK”)
16 Disturbance in structure
23 Emotionally Disturbed Person

And then the latter half, the letters:

Code Meaning
Adam No incident occurred
Boy Unable to locate RP
Charlie Address not found
Delta Not a police matter
Edward Suspect GOA
Frank Peace restored
George “Advised Warrant”
Henry Advised to call again if necessary
Ida Taken into station
John Field Investigation Report
King Traffic citation issued
Lincoln Parking citation issued
Mary Advised to seek legal help
Nora Accidental alarm
Ocean False alarm
Paul Services rendered

Here are some of the common ones:

14 Paul:
Clear a traffic stop or similar
8 Boy:
Unable to locate person (or address, incorrectly)
8 John:
FIO (see below) data taken on an individual

Additional Codes & Abbreviations

Some additional codes are used; they’re usually easy to remember because they’re simply abbreviations. In most cases, they’re given phonetically (e.g., “Ocean Nora” instead of “O-N”)

Ocean Nora (ON):
On the air / In service
Ocean Frank (OF):
Off the air / Signing off (“Ocean Frank”)
DK:
Intoxicated (drunk): usually they say this as “DK” instead of “Delta Kilo” as one might expect
Charlie Robert (CR):
Clear
Adam Robert (AR):
Arriving on scene (“Adam Robert”)
L20:
Out of the car, longer than 20 minutes (An “L20 report” is common; sometimes you’ll even hear of a “long L20,” which is kind of redundant)
R:
As in, “Clear with an R.” Short for “report”
FIO:
Field Intelligence Observation. Someone will often be stopped “for FIO purposes only,” meaning that they haven’t necessarily committed a crime, but that the police will take their information and enter it into a database. (BPD Rules & Procedures document [PDF] describing the FIO process.)
209A:
A reference to Chapter 209A of the Massachusetts General Laws, usually used to refer to protective restraining orders.
94C:
A similar reference to MGL, Chapter 94C, concerning controlled substances. In practice, “94C” is almost always used to reference marijuana, although it can refer to any illegal drug. (It’s not a 10-code: “10-94c” doesn’t make sense. It’s a reference to section 94c of the law.)
Go to 7 (or 9):
A request that an officer switch to Channel 7 or Channel 9, two unit-to-unit channels. Channel 9 is used by detectives; Channel 7 is used by nearly everyone.
Go up:
See above: a reference to going “up” to channel 7 (usually) or 9 (rarely)
Nova Base:
Channel 8; charged with “info requests” such as license status and registration lookups.
ABPO:
Short for “Assault and Battery on a Police Officer”
ABDW:
Short for “Assault and Battery with a Deadly Weapon”
All Out
A broadcast (preceded by a long steady tone) occurring on all channels of the BPD radio system, used for announcements that need to reach multiple channels. (Not to be confused with the “all out” on fire radio, which means something entirely different…)
BOLO:
Be on the lookout” – what most people call an APB. Given for fresh, major crimes, like a suspect on the loose or a stolen car.
BOP:
Literally “Board of Probations,” a BOP is essentially someone’s criminal history, or “rap sheet” if this were a Hollywood movie.
Good to Go:
Indicates that the person described has cause for arrest; usually used in the context of a traffic stop. (e.g., an unmarked car may request a marked cruiser stop a suspect’s car, noting “the driver is good to go for assault.”)
Occupied Twice / Occupied Times Two:
The number of people in a car, called in at the time of a stop.
EDT
Emergency Deployment Team. Designated officers carry tactical equipment during their shifts, and are able to respond to any district in the city when the EDT is deployed. (See the BPD Rules & Procedures PDF governing EDTs, part of Rule 201 regarding Homeland Security.)
PS
Patrol Supervisor.
DS
Duty Supervisor. I’m unable to find clear documentation on their exact duties; a DS appears to outrank a PS.

Unit IDs (Callsigns)

Unit designators are usually expressed as four characters, like “Lima 211.” These are often referenced as callsigns. The first, a letter, denotes a location: each district has one, listed below. The second character denotes the type of unit, e.g. a wagon, 2-man unit, K9 unit, etc. The last two is a unique unit identifier. (Primary source: BPD Rules and Procedures, Rule 324A – Two-Way Radio and Mobile Data Terminal Procedures [PDF].

Locations

Name District Location Channel
Alpha District 1 Charleston, Downtown 2
Bravo District 2 Roxbury 3
Charlie District 3 Mattapan 3
Delta District 4 Back Bay, South End 5
Echo District 5 W. Roxbury 4
Fox District 6 S. Boston 6
Gold District 7 E. Boston 2
Harry District 11 Dorcester 6
Jake District 13 Jamaica Plain 4
Kilo District 14 Alston, Brighton 5
Lima District 18 Hyde Park 4
Mike Special Events Bureau of Field Services (BFS)
Nova Operations (License lookups) 8
Romeo Paid Detail
Silver Bureau of Administrative Services (BAS)
Tango Special Ops
Victor Detective Bureau of Investigative Services (BIS)
X-Ray Internal Affairs Bureau of Internal Investigations (BII)
Yankee Administration
Zebra Housing Police

 

Unit Types

Number Meaning
1 Rapid response
2 Patrol wagon
3 Motorcycle
4 Neighborhood Services Unit
5 K9 unit
6 Neighborhood Beat Officers
7 Mounted patrol
8 Detective
9 Sergeant
A Lieutenant
B Captain
C Command
D “Other”
K Anti-crime Unit

During shift changes, or when units stay on beyond their normal times, a fifth digit is used to denote the shift. A-shift is 11:45pm to 7:30am; D-shift is 7:30am to 4pm, and F-shift is 4pm to 11:45pm. A four-digit number is used by officers who are not “logged on,” e.g., off-duty officers or those on paid details; the number used is the one engraved on their radio. There are some unconventional unit IDs. Peter S. from the sme2 mailing list has a compilation of them. Some that I’ve heard myself:

Yankee Charlie 2
Superintendant in Chief
Tango Charlie 1
Captain, Special Ops.
Tango Gold 1, Tango Gold 2
“Gun car” with special ops, carrying heavy weaponry

External links

There are two sites in particular that are really handy: this one by garys and this one. They are also a good resource for Boston Police frequencies.

I’ve also just put together a page on Massachusetts CMED Scanner Info, which scanner listeners might find interesting.

73,
Matt, N1ZYY


20 thoughts on “Boston Police Radio Codes

  1. Notes:

    Under Disposition Codes, a 23 is an EDP, or emotionally disturbed person.

    DS is the Duty Supervisor, the person in charge of the shift, typically stays at the station running the show. if the DS and the PS are of the same rank, the order of the DS prevails.

    Nova units are not just license lookups; they include the officers and civilians assigned to Operations [i.e. ND07 is the Operations Training Officer].

    Zebra units are Boston Housing Authority Police.

    “Long L20″ tells the dispatcher not to pull the unit unless a high-priority response is needed; he/she will be busy writing up their report or multiple reports.

  2. Hi Carl! Thanks for the kind words.

    I haven’t heard any FBI traffic on Boston PD’s channels, though they might have the capability. I almost wonder if they’d use something like BAPERN for that, or if they have some other provisions in place.

    I’ve actually moved a little out of range of Boston recently. I used to listen on an old Motorola ASTRO Saber I had programmed receive-only; I loved that radio. These days I use the Bearcat BCD396XT which is more useful since it’s not UHF-only, but it’s not as “fun” a radio as an old Motorola. :)

  3. what does Code Black mean in relation to Boston EOD?

    listening to live stream post-explosion @http://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/6254

  4. I don’t know first-hand what Code Black means. It sounds like a hospital code. I understand that some local hospitals are being locked down, allowing only medical personnel and the injured in. I’m not positive if that is relevant or not.

  5. Referencing the above, the news is mentioning a “Code Amber” at area hospitals, and defining it as requiring photo ID at hospital entries, with selective access being granted. It sounds as though this is being done to prevent overcrowding, not because of any sort of threat at the hospitals.

  6. Pingback: Some quick resources. | Tim Calvin

  7. Hi i just got a uniden bearcay scanner and have no local or regional frequency directory.just 1 460.150 do you know of any others will be verry greatfull thanks

  8. Hey Victor,

    A couple good resources for you… http://www.scanboston.com/boston.htm is really detailed, and has a list of channels in order. 460.15 is just a detective frequency; sometimes you’ll hear interesting stuff but there’s not a lot of activity. I’d put the whole list of 16 channels in. (Though I’ve never really heard anything above channel 13.)

    Check out http://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?ctid=1225 as well. The Radio Reference site is usually my go-to resource for frequencies. That link is to the Boston page, but they have stuff for the whole country.

  9. I like this page and compilation of codes and common used termonology. I live in Boston and have a few hand-helds. Knowing frequencies is one step, learning codes and terms is another, but understanding the police radio jargon really helps tell the story that we watch in our minds as we listen.
    Thanks

  10. My girlfriend has an ex boyfriend that will occasionally stalk her when I’m not around. What would be the best code to describe this situation to Medford Police?

  11. @Nick — I don’t know about Cambridge, to be honest. I don’t monitor Cambridge, and now live out of range.

    @Christian — Plain English. These codes are just shorthand that the Boston PD uses on the radio; they’re not meant to encompass all possible crimes that can be committed. None of these codes jump out at me as particularly relevant for stalking; I think the call would go out in plain English. But even if there was a code/shorthand for it, that’s just what’s used on the radio–not what you should use to report it, or what the officers would put in their report.

  12. Glad u updated page im from boston and broadcastify put bpd back on line by its self
    so its just bpd traffic which is nice
    thanks
    john

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