Police Code for Everything

We've got a 20-26, someone's trying to describe Police Code For Everything here!

The Monster of the Week has grown to the size of a skyscraper, and is currently rampaging through New York, carrying a load of Noodle Implements. He's even kidnapped the Designated Victim. A police officer on scene calmly pulls out his radio and announces "We've got a 10-340".

No matter how obscure, improbable, or downright weird an event is, the Crazy-Prepared department has a code for it. Furthermore, everyone will have the code memorized and are expected to know instantly what the code means - they might have even trained for its eventual use. (Although there's the frequent exception, or just a non-cop who happens to be involved, leading them to question what it is, and for the meaning to be revealed.) It may be that their beat is a City of Weirdos or the City of Adventure, so they come to expect giant apes once again fighting among the stampeding warthogs.

More often than not, this Trope can go hand-in-hand with the Police Are Useless Trope, because despite having a code for everything, they still manage to mess up.

Sub-Trope of Crazy-Prepared. Sister Trope to Code Emergency, where a pre-arranged code is used for clandestine communication.


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  • There are a few examples in Stan Freberg's Dragnet parodies.
    • In "St. George and the Dragonet", St. George finally nabs the fire-breathing dragon on these charges:
    St. George: I'm taking you in on a 502. You figure it out.
    Dragon: What's the charge?
    St. George: Devouring maidens out of season.
    Dragon: Out of season?!? You'll never pin that rap on me!! Do you hear me, COP?!?!
    St. George: Yeah, I hear you. I got you on a 412 too.
    Dragon: A 412!!! What's a 412?!?!?
    St. George: Over-acting. Let's go.
    • In "Christmas Dragnet," a man named Grudge is brought in on a 4096325-096704: not believing in Santa Claus. Wednesday had previously brought him in on a 1492: not believing in Columbus.

     Comic Books 
  • Uncanny X-Men Issue 366:
    Cop #1: Someone call the Avengers or somethin'
    Cop #2: And tell 'em what? A polite robot just walked into the U.N.?
    Cop #3: (into radio) got a 4-3-7- at the U.N.
  • Green Lantern shows that this trope is in effect for Space Police, too. 1011, for example, is Deicide. Rebirth gives us 1963: "suspect escaped into an extra-dimensional vortex".

    Fan Works 
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, one of the codes Amelia Bones has set up for Magical Law Enforcement is code RJ-L20: "Guard requires relief because prisoner is attempting psychological warfare and is succeeding". The psychological warfare that gets this code invoked is humming.
  • In Takamachi Nanoha Of 2814, a 16887 means "Illegal disposal of a disposable pre-packaged beverage vessel by attempted forced ingestion into an endangered species of carnivorous luminescent crystal fungus" in the Green Lantern Handbook. Nanoha appears to have memorized all the codes - and is strongly implied to be the only Lantern presently in the Corps to have read the thing cover to cover.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Toy Story 2, a Buzz Lightyear action figure at Al's Toy Barn (who thinks he's a real space ranger) is completely baffled at the behavior of the other toys, who are trying to rescue Woody. Andy's Buzz (who realizes he's a toy) tells the deluded Buzz, "It's alright, Space Ranger. It's a code 5-46." Deluded Buzz gasps and bows before Woody, saying, "Your Majesty!" And from that point on, while he still believes himself to be a real space ranger, this Buzz takes the situation entirely in stride and works with the remaining toys, although he ends up in combat against an Emperor Zurg action figure, believing it to be real.
  • From Monsters, Inc., a 23-19 call goes out whenever there's contact between monsters and a human object, even something as innocuous as a sock.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle: an illegal chinchilla ranch on the premises is an 11-350.
  • A couple of cops in Mirrors 2 discuss the ghoulish scene of a disemboweling with this exchange:
    First Cop: "You ever see a 10-56 like that before?"
    Second Cop: "I'm not sure."
  • Parodied but good in The Naked Gun, when Frank keeps rattling off the wrong police codes to describe an attempt on Nordberg's life while an increasingly panicky hospital clerk correctly interprets them as being for things like fire or a terrorist attack. On his third attempt, the clerk simply screams in horror and dives out a window.
  • Parodied in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The security guards on the set for the Bluntman and Chronic movie continually mix up the codes for intruders in the lot and removing a dead hooker from Ben Affleck's trailer.
    Security Guard: (arriving to check for Jay and Silent Bob) Sorry to interrupt, sirs, but we got a 10-07 on our hands!
    Matt Damon: (sighs, annoyed) Ah, Jesus, again, Ben?
    Ben Affleck: No, bullshit! Cause I wasn't with a hooker today, Ha HA!
  • In Live Free or Die Hard, John McClane ferrets out the fake "police dispatcher" by subverting it: using the wrong police 10-code to describe his situation. When the dispatcher smoothly claims that all units have been dispatched to his code,
    "You mean you had to dispatch all units for the naked people wandering around?"

  • In Discworld:
  • There's a naval variation in Good Omens: after trying to find the way to communicate that he's found a sunken city of pyramids, he looks through "international codes" and sends "XXXV QVVX" which means "Have found the lost city of Atlantis. High Priest has just won the Quoits contest."
  • In one of Robert Rankin's Armageddon novels, there is an extended joke sequence with two policemen discussing which ridiculous thing that's just happened is which code. At the end, it is revealed that there is a specific code for "a demon-possessed vehicle in a towaway zone".
  • From a Dave Barry column:
    A tom turkey crashed through the windshield of a dump truck early Monday in Butler County and struck a fighting posture with the surprised driver...Fortunately, the driver was able to escape and call the police, who responded swiftly, as they do whenever they hear the dreaded radio code 10-84 ("Turkey in Fighting Posture")
    Law-enforcement experts will tell you, after they have had a few belts, that in a situation where a member of the marmot family is holding people hostage in a sewage plant (in police radio code, this is known as a "10-6"), the textbook response is to drive a police car over the alleged perpetrator, then, if necessary, advise it of its rights.
  • From a Buick 8 plays with this trope; the officers of Troop D don't standardly have a code for reverring to incidents involving a supernatural car, but as a security measure to keep the Buick a secret they come up with "Code D" for when referring to the Buick over the radio.

    Live Action TV 
  • Gloriously subverted in The Big Bang Theory when Howard has to visit the hospital for an embarrassing injury. The scene sets up this trope when:
    Althea the Nurse (into Tannoy): Can I get an orderly with a wheelchair down here? We got a robot hand graspin' a man's penis.
    Howard: Could you be a little more discreet?
    Althea: I'm sorry. We don't have a code for "robot hand graspin' a man's penis."
  • Similarly, on ER, Kerry Weaver tries to implement a code system for people's injuries and illnesses so that they don't have to be embarrassed by having the gory or gross details posted on the admission board. Unfortunately, everyone whines and complains and can't be bothered to learn the various codes, forcing the idea to be abandoned in less than a day.
  • SHIELD uses the code 084 to refer to any unidentified object in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. It alludes to the box label for the original object that SHIELD's predecessor, the SSR, acquired that fit that category.
  • Referenced in Castle. In the episode "Undead Again", a murder suspect, dressed as a zombie, has been found dead in his home. In the morgue, the medical examiner sticks a needle into the man's arm - only for the so-called corpse to jerk upright and bolt for the door.
    Castle: (at the telephone) Is there a police code for zombie on the loose?
  • Corner Gas when Davis finds what he thinks is an alien Crop Circle:
    Davis: I want you to get the RCMP down here right away. Tell them we got a 10-92.
    Karen: Parking violation?
    Davis: By aliens!
  • Night Court: The Wheelers are brought in on a 509b violation.
    Harry: I don't believe I'm familiar with that one.
    Dan: Well, sir, it's not used in Manhattan very much. It involves the illegal detonation of poultry.
  • The "Space Corps directives" running gag in Red Dwarf echoes this trope:
    Rimmer: Kryten, you're forgetting Space Corps Directive 1742.
    Kryten: 1742? No member of the Corps should report for duty in a ginger toupee?
  • Alaska State Troopers real life example, if you listen closely to the background radio dispatcher, they have a 10-code for Moose stuck in greenhouse!
  • On Third Watch, the cops realize that they've caught the criminals who have been Impersonating an Officer in order to attack women by asking them a question in cop lingo, which of course, they don't understand, not being real cops.
  • On Baywatch, as Stephanie is taken hostage by an escaped criminal, she receives a call from her supervisor. She starts to respond by saying that she's "dealing with a code—", but the man cuts her off, knowing that she could be giving him a code that alerts him to her situation. Luckily her supervisor figures out she's in trouble anyway as she the tells him that she's driving a lost child around to find his parents, something that's a violation of policy.
  • An early episode of The Flash (2014) has a brief gag of Cisco messing up police codes while trying to direct Barry to a crime.
    Cisco: Code two-thirty-seven on Wade Boulevard.
    Barry: ...public indecency?
    Cisco: Wait, I think I meant a two-thirty-nine.
    Barry: Dog leash violation!?
    Caitlin: Bad man, with a gun, in a getaway car, GO!
  • On World's Dumbest..., Kevin McCaffrey comments on how the police have a code for a guy who drunk-drives himself to jail.
    Kevin: You guys are thorough.
  • In Doctor Who and its spinoff Torchwood, a 'code 9' signifies that the Doctor has been seen in the area.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In Legend of the Five Rings, the Crab Clan have "battle-language" to describe common scenarios. For example, "Kannishiki!" means "The creature we are fighting can only be harmed by jade weapons!". "Tsuta" means "The staff of this restaurant or geisha house are actually shapeshifted Shadowlands creatures. Fetch your weapons discreetly and meet me at the door." If that fails, "Yasha!" means "The jig is up. Fight your way out however you can."

    Theme Parks 

    Web Original 
  • In Void Dogs the Fickle Finger's security has a code for "exiled royalty has detonated a bottle". They also have one for "exiled royalty has detonated a turtle".
  • This X-Men fanart provides a bureaucratic example. When Cyclops reports his wife's demonically-influenced suicide, he finds that they have a standard form for that.
  • A Not Always Working story features a theater worker who must indicate that there is a dog loose. He asks for "Technician Scooby" over the radio.
  • In The Nostalgia Critic and The Angry Video Game Nerd's review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014):
    Police Officer: Yeah, we have a 10-10. note 
    Critic: "That's right, a 10-10, four giant turtles fighting a mecha metal samurai. By God, it's been a few days!"
  • Non police code version in Red vs. Blue when Simmons discovers from a computer that the Red and Blues are just training scenarios for testing members of Project Freelancer.
    Sarge: What- what- that's nonsense! We've been through so much! We had that, whole battle with the Blues for the, somethinerother and, then we set off that bomb thingy, and we got blasted through time, and we met an alien and that guy got pregnant.
    Simmons: According to this that is... Scenario 3.
    Sarge: Three!?
  • Hanazuki Full Of Treasure: Dazzlescence Jones, The Sherrif of Hanazuki's moon, has Police Codes for meteor showers and the cleanup effort that follows them. Respectively being 2-13 and 2-18. He also has one for retreating to the Safety Cave (4-12)

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons used one of these gags in the season 11 episode "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder":
    Chief Wiggum: Alright smart guy, where's the fire?
    Homer: Over there.
    Homer points at a fire at the police station
    Chief Wiggum: Okay, you just bought yourself a 317, pointing out police stupidity... Or is that a 314? Nah nah, 314 is a dog uh, in, no or is that a 315?... You're in trouble pal.
    • In another episode, Wiggum reports "an 812 - Waking a Police Officer".
    • In "So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show" Wiggum refers to code 8 after a beer explosion, prompting Lou to report "we need pretzels, repeat, pretzels!"
    • A non-police variant for truckers CB codes occurred in "Maximum Homerdrive".
    10-33: Actual bear in airnote 
  • Garfield and Friends:
    • In one short:
      Chief: Looks like we got an 817, Jones.
      Cop: A creature living in the refrigerator, behind the mayonnaise, next to the ketchup, and to the left of the coleslaw?
      Chief: You got it.
    • Also, the episode "Binky Goes Bad" has this:
      Cop: We've got a 708! That's right! A clown barricaded in a bakery with pies!
    • A non-police variant occurred in one of the U.S. Acres segments, with one of Roy's attempts at placing the most ridiculously Byzantine and unfulfillable order he can dream up at Orson's new diner:
    Roy: I'd like an alligator-cheese sandwich made with cheese from an alligator named Cynthia, I want it with lettuce grown in Northern Bolivia and picked on Memorial Day, I want it served on rye bread with exactly 71 caraway seeds per slice, and I want a pickle in the shape of Muncie, Indiana.
    Orson: Very good. One #8!
    • Wade actually has a large file folder system containing code numbers for every possible fear that he could have.
  • Lampshaded in The Mighty Ducks episode "Jurassic Puck":
    Mallory: I don't know what bothers me more: the fact that we're being attacked by a dinosaur or the fact that you've got a category for it.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: 'Swapper'. The police have 304. Blue dog loose in store.
  • Taz-Mania: In "To Catch a Taz", Wendal arrests Thickley on "a 219; a fashion faux pas".
  • Gravity Falls has this gag in the episode "Headhunters":
    Voice on handheld transceiver: Attention all units. Steve is going to fit an entire cantaloupe in his mouth. Repeat. An entire cantaloupe.
    Deputy Durland: It's a 23-16!
    Sherrif Blubs: Let's move!
  • In Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, a family dispute about to the existence of Santa Claus is a 12-25. When Jake insists that he saw Santa run over Grandma, the officers put it down as "sleighicular hit-and-run," which is a 12-24. (One officer Lampshades the date there.)
  • WordGirl has around 1000 "emergency plans", usually using one or more per episode. She apparently has done them all at least once before, since Tobey and Dr. Two-Brains both have complete records of what each plan does.
  • When Bonkers was wearing a beanie that was making him fly out of control, Miranda calls it in.
    Miranda: East on Franklin Ave. I got a Code 6-21.
    Policeman on radio: Code 6-21. Again? Can't you just shoot him down this time?
  • A military variant shows up in the Kim Possible episode "Rufus vs. Commodore Puddles". The initial attack by Drakken's now-gigantic poodle is described as "a 41/5S-type scenario". When Rufus (also grown to giant size) arrives to help, this development is "a 49/EZ scenario".
  • Snooper And Blabber frequently talk in police code when they have a case on their hands. Take this example from "Person to Prison", when Blab gave Snoop the wrong code.
    Snooper: A 7-08 is an elderly boy scout trapped in a pup tent in Mesopotamia.
    Blabber: I'm sorry, Snoop. I mean a 7-09.
    Snooper: Rumor of a jailbreak in Sing-Song Prison, eh?
  • In Phineas and Ferb, a 10-91-P is a missing platypus.
  • In Star Wars Rebels, the Empire uses an emergency code system that it took over from the grand army of the Republic. Rex uses it in the second season to convince an imperial Interdictor to let them board in a stolen shuttle. The codes are not explained any further than that a 157 is something that can occur on a shuttle and may develop into a 3376, which is not something you want to happen on your starbord side, even if you're sitting in an experimental cruiser inside a restricted 675 testzone.

     Real Life 
  • ICD-10 is the new coding system physicians will have to use.
    • Y92.146: Swimming-pool of prison as the place of occurrence of the external cause
    • V80.62XA: Occupant of animal-drawn vehicle injured in collision with railway train or railway vehicle, initial encounter
    • V95.42XA: Forced landing of spacecraft injuring occupant, initial encounter
    • W21.11XA: Struck by baseball bat, initial encounter
    • V9107XA: Burn due to water-skis on fire, initial encounter