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 fighting among the stampeding warthogs again.

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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  • In Stan Freberg's "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 Stan Freberg's "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".

    Films — Animated 
  • In Toy Story 2, a Buzz Lightyear action figure (who thinks he's a real space ranger) is completely baffled at the behavior of the other toys, who are trying to rescue Woody. Real!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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Charlies Angels Full Throttle: an illegal chinchilla ranch on the premises is an 11-350.
  • In Live Free or Die Hard, John McClane tests the "police dispatcher" he's talking to by casually asking about "all those 5-87s". When she fails to recognize that the code is for incidents of public nudity, he knows that she's a fake.
  • 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 a dead hooker in Ben Affleck's trailer.

  • In Discworld, the Diary for the Ankh-Morpork City Watch includes a list of pigeon codes, including one which means "The previous pigeon was eaten by a gargoyle officer, please resend".
  • 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")

    Live Action TV 
  • Gloriously subverted in The Big Bang Theory when Howard has to visit the hospital for an embarassing 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."
  • SHIELD uses the code 084 to refer to any unidentified object in Agents Of Shield.
  • 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 Dangerously Genre Savvy 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.

    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."

    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.

    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!"
  • 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 transciever: 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, an elderly woman being ran over by a reindeer is a "12-24".
     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