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”)
Intoxicated (drunk): usually they say this as “DK” instead of “Delta Kilo” as one might expect
Charlie Robert (CR):
Adam Robert (AR):
Arriving on scene (“Adam Robert”)
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)
As in, “Clear with an R.” Short for “report”
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.)
A reference to Chapter 209A of the Massachusetts General Laws, usually used to refer to protective restraining orders.
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.
Short for “Assault and Battery on a Police Officer”
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…)
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.
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.
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.)
Patrol Supervisor. Typically a Sergeant; help in the field where officers need a supervisor.
Duty Supervisor. I’m unable to find clear documentation on their exact duties; a DS appears to outrank a PS. Generally a Lieutenant assigned to the station, overseeing their district. (Thanks, Jeff, for the clarification!)

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].


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

External Links

73, Matt, N1ZYY

51 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 @

    • Hi Remy,
      I believe what you may have heard, or been privy to was a hospital personnel, such as a security guard who is familiar with the bdc scanner and used it to belay information. You see, hospitals and clinics use a set of colors to represent certain emergency situations ie” code grey” is a natural disaster. It’s very possible this person called in a code black to let local police know what was occurring at a local hospital/ clinic. Ex: code red at BMC. (Boston medical Center let’s the police be notified to a possible fire at a near by hospital. I don’t know all the color codes off the top of my head, but I do go to a medical Center where the chart with these codes are posted up on the wall. I can try and take a picture of it & upload it as a PDF if anyone may be interested. (I also know code blue means an emergency where a person is in critical condition, ie not breathing) … Hope this helps

  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.

    • Boston EMS “code black” means there’s a physical issue causing an emergency department to not be able to receive patients.

      • More discreet
        Either I am eNTERING meditationally ✉️ because I Like brownies
        I am figuring it out now to know how to type it ad less give me til 1:30

        2 , JUST KNOW I WAS BEEN LISTENING which is .

    • There was a person driving dangerously today. Police said the put out a “Code Black….” I think the last word was Alpha but not sure. Can’t find exact meaning.

  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.

    • Yes, they need to check people’s Id’s because code Amber usually means a baby/ newborn has been abducted from the NICU unit or birthing department of a hospital. It also can be for children from the children’s ward/ ICU. Just like an “Amber alert” a child is missing/ abducted. My sister worked at a local hospital. But code Amber can possibly mean, or be code for something completely different to law inforcement, or fire Department. (And most likely does)

  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… 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 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.

    • “.Once I heard another set of tones but can’t remember them. 460.4000 4 Echo, Jake & lima units 252. Boston EMS “code black” means there’s a physical issue causing an emergency department to not be able to receive patients”

  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.

  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

  13. hey Matt, nice page. Lots of helpful info here. Regarding the difference between a Patrol Supervisor and a Duty Supervisor, I might be able to help (I interned in District-3 back in the early 2000s). A PS is typically a sergeant, and they get called out to assist in the field in complex matters and issues that require a decision made beyond the responding officers’ understanding. A DS is typically a Lieutenant, and they are in charge of everything that happens in the district during their shift (including in-station, booking, CSO, and other areas). I have never seen one leave the station, but I imagine they take command in more critical incidents, like robberies and active shootings. Hope that helps.

  14. Hay matt were do you get your info? because I get mine right from the Boston Police there self’s like Frequency Ch. Description
    460.3500 1 Special Events, Citywide Events
    460.4500 2 Alpha & Gold units
    460.2250 3 Bravo & Charlie units
    460.4000 4 Echo, Jake & lima units
    460.5000 5 Delta & kilo units
    460.1750 6 Fox & Harry units
    460.3000 7 unit to unit to Base
    If you would like more help on codes Police, Fire, Medical, Marine, just send me an email

  15. Thanks Dave!

    My info comes from a variety of sources. It’s based on years of listening to BPD and other departments, plus what’s corroborated by several online sources.

    I don’t directly list the frequencies, because there are several online sources that do it better. Radio Reference ( ) and Scan NE ( ) for example. I should update my post to make this clearer. Thanks a bunch for sharing and confirming the info you’ve got!

  16. I listen to Broadcastify in southern Oregon.
    I have found most of the relevant codes but I can’t find the meaning of the 2 tones that occur periodically. Writing it out doesn’t help much. The 1st note is higher & shorter than the 2nd note. Both are fairly low tones.Once I heard another set of tones but can’t remember them. Just now there was a higher set of 2 tones.
    Do you have any idea of what I am talking about? There doesn’t seem to be any info listed anywhere for the west coast.

  17. Hi Mary,

    I suspect that what you’re hearing is something called two-tone paging, used by fire departments (mostly) to alert firefighters to calls that go out. Firefighters can carry (and fire stations can be outfitted with) special receivers that stay muted until they hear a specific set of tones, at which time they will sound an alarm and then switch over to the dispatcher’s audio so they can hear the call.

    Here’s [a Youtube video]( of it happening. (I have no affiliation with that, just something I found online as an example.) In that video, there are several sets of tones that go out; the fifth pair is what the user’s radio / Minitor were programmed for. It allows people to carry these around with them all the time, and only be alerted when there’s a call for them. (Or, in a fire station, something similar can be hooked up to a bell/sirens to make sure everyone hears when there’s a call for them.)

    There are a few different formats for this; the prevalent one is Motorola Quick Call II (“QCII”), but a company called Plectron used to make a lot of similar equipment, so you’ll see both terms used sometime. With scanners it’s generally just called “fire tone-outs.”

    • Thank you.
      Today I spoke with a person with a scanner & she told me the different tones were for fire, medical & uh…I forgot the 3rd one! But putting what she said with what you just said I think you both are correct.
      Thank you so much. It is good to see an actual helpful blog!
      I will check the youtube video.

  18. Matt, you may want to consider an update to the BPD radio channel and call-sign line up.

    Tango-Sierra: Boston School Police

    Whiskey: Boston Public Health Commission Police

    Channel 27: Boston Public Health Commission Police

    • what are you talking about?

      school police and public health police are two separate entities not related to BPD. They are specials under rule 400a, and are not a part of the BPD in any way.

      • Sorry, I know for a fact that yes they are 400a but as they are run by appointed active BPD officers that they are IN FACT sub-departments RUN BY BPD.

  19. chris,

    what are you talking about?

    school police and public health police are two separate entities not related to BPD. They are specials under rule 400a, and are not a part of the BPD in any way.

    • Try telling that to Bob Guiney or Jack Hamm BOTH BPD assigned as directors of public safety by the commissioner and mayor. They both finished their distinguished careers at BPHC. Dan Linsky worked as director of the school police for several years before becoming superintendent in Boston.

  20. Although housing, school and public health commission police departments are not elements of the BPD, they do use the BPD radio system. This is by design, to allow direct access to the turret by these agencies and patching if needed to any BPD / BAPERN channels.
    Call signs are correct as mentioned above.
    CH 25 – BHA PD
    CH 26 – BPS PD
    CH 27 – BPHC PD

    • Code 303 is the designation for weapon discharged by an officer. 303 is handgun, 303a is non-lethal such as pepper spray, 303b is Taser. All district units respond along with special units and the BPD Shoot Team. The officer involved is always transported by EMS to a local hospital for a check-up and CISD de-briefing.

  21. Want to buy a police scanner do I need to buy a digital one.? Don’t want to buy one then Boston PD goes digital. New to listening don’t know if digital is in their plans or will they stay on UHF

  22. So matt, I was attacked on neighbors front lawn and I guess he was injured while I restrained him. He’s embarrassed and ashamed but everyone thinks otherwise. I’m not looking for codes or anything. I just thought I’d write something.

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