How Good Is Your Police Slang?


By: Kale Havervold

6 Min Quiz

Image: Thinkstock Images / Stockbyte / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Slang is a part of nearly everyone's lives, but few people use it as much as police officers. Some slang is for fun and just caught on other time, while other slang and jargon come from actual penal codes. In addition to slang, there are also radio signals and communication that are important to know as an officer. Add to that the dozens of acronyms that are widely used throughout the country, and it is easy to see why slang and the related vernacular are so important in law enforcement. 

But just how much do you know about the slang and jargon used by police officers? For example, do you know what LKA stands for? How about what it takes for a cop to be referred to as a house mouse? If you already know and want to show off your skills, or if you want to learn some slang to impress your police friends, this is the quiz for you.  We'll look at a variety of different slang, jargon, acronyms and signals that police officers around the country use every single day to make their jobs a little bit easier.

Without any further ado, put your badge on and get ready to take on our challenging police slang quiz. Will you make a successful arrest and defeat the quiz, or lose the perp and fail?

What is a J-Cat?

Of course, there are numerous different categories of individuals, and police must be able to identify them quickly. If a police officer talks about a J-cat (category J person), they are often speaking of a mentally ill person.


When someone has an "Irish pendant," where would it be located?

An Irish pendant refers to a loose string or set of strings on the uniform of a police officer. While they are not always an issue, you definitely wouldn't want to have one ahead of an inspection.


If someone is wearing a Sam Browne, what are they wearing?

While actual Sam Browne brand belts are no longer in use among most police forces and have fallen out of favor, most people in the industry still refer to any police utility belt as a Sam Browne.


What are "Berries and Cherries"?

Berries and cherries, when it comes to the police, refers to the red and blue lights on a police car. Some people might even refer to the police themselves as the berries and cherries.


When would a cop use the term "Hook'em and Book'em"?

The term "hook'em and book'em" refers to getting a suspect in handcuffs and getting them booked in at the jail. So this term would often be heard when someone is being arrested by an officer.


If a person is a "Deuce," what are they doing?

The term "deuce" refers to someone who is driving drunk or is under the influence. The term originally started back in California, but it has spread around the rest of the country.


Police officers frequently say "10-4" during radio conversation; what does it mean?

10-4 is one of the few police "10 codes" and radio signals that allow officers to quickly and effectively communicated. It essentially means "OK" or "understood" and is a common response on the radio.


What makes someone a "House Mouse"?

Part of being a police officer, at least most of the time, is going out on patrol. However, if an officer doesn't do that, and just stays at the station, they are often called a house mouse.


FIDO is a commonly used acronym used by police officers. What does it mean?

FIDO means "forget it and drive on." This term is often used for situations that potentially could be criminal or suspicious, but officers decide not to investigate any further for one reason or another.


If an arrested person is getting "Mirandized," what is happening to them?

Everyone has rights, and when you are arrested, some of these rights need to be explained to you via officers. These are called Miranda rights, and when you are being read these rights, you are being Mirandized.


When a police officer uses the term "perp," what are they referring to?

Another way to say that someone committed a crime is to say that they were the perpetrator of that crime. As a result, a perp refers to someone that officers know or believe has committed a crime.


What does the term "D-Dub" mean?

D-dub typically refers to a DWI (driving while intoxicated). While it is common slang, it is hardly ever used on the radios themselves and is mainly just spoken between a group of officers in a more personal manner.


If a police officer asks someone if they have a "script" for something, what are they usually referring to?

If a police officer asks someone if they have a script, it is usually in the context of asking about prescription drugs. People who carry a large number of prescription drugs without a prescription can find themselves in a lot of trouble.


What does it mean if someone is "flying colors"?

If someone is flying colors, it means that they are showing off gang colors publically. This is often done through the clothing they are wearing, the colors of their vehicle, or many other things.


If an officer is wearing "civvies," what are they wearing?

If an officer is just wearing civvies, it means they are in civilian clothing. This could mean that they are off duty, coming to or from work, or even doing some secret undercover work that requires them to blend in.


What does the acronym "BOLO" stand for?

BOLO refers to be on the lookout. This term is usually used to warn other officers about a criminal or potentially suspicious individual that they should be looking out for. The term dates back many decades.


When an officer asks another what their "20" is, what are they asking?

If one police officer asks another "what's your 20", they are asking where they currently are. Identifying the location of other officers or individuals is very important and this radio code allows them to do so quickly.


What is a signal 0?

Police need to make lightning-quick communication with one another from time to time, and radio signals help them do so. Signal 0 is instrumental as it refers to an armed individual or caution.


If a person is "banged up," what are they?

While many of these potential answers might have sounded right, being banged up means you are locked away in a cell. This can both refer to a cell in a jail, police station or prison.


What is a person doing if they "cough" during an interrogation"?

Interrogations can go a number of ways and have a variety of different results. Ultimately, police want to end the interrogation with the suspect coughing (or confessing) to the crime.


When police officers are in a "sleeper car," what does that mean?

A sleeper car is a car that looks pretty normal and boring on the outside but is incredibly high performing under the hood. Many undercover police cars are sleeper cars, in an effort to blend in.


In the law enforcement world, what is meant if you say someone is "tooled up"?

Many criminals carry weapons, and many police officers will refer to those people as tooled up. While any weapon can lead to someone being tooled up, it is generally some kind of a gun.


What is the slang term given to a certain area that a police officer is in charge of patrolling?

The area where a certain officer generally works and is comfortable with is often called their beat. People may be uncomfortable switching beats and may be partial to remaining in their own during a patrol.


If a police station has a "full boat," what does that mean?

When a police station has a full boat, it means that the entire squad is at work, no one is sick, away or on leave. Having so many people can often allow a force to take on special types of jobs or assignments that night.


When a suspect "flips" during an investigation or interrogation, what is happening?

When someone flips during an interview or interrogation, it is often a large win for law enforcement. It is when a person confesses to a crime and also reveals who else was involved and what they did.


What is normally happening when it is said that a criminal "skated" on their charges?

While many people end up being prosecuted for the crimes they commit, this isn't always the case. When someone skates on their charge, it means they were acquitted, often on some sort of technicality.


If a police officer says that a person has a "GAT," what do they have?

A gat is an illegal firearm that many criminals will be in possession of and use. The term dates back many decades back to the days of the Gatling gun, which was a predecessor to modern machine guns.


A relatively common crime in many cities is "B&E." What does it stand for?

B&E stands for breaking and entering. It is an unfortunately common crime that consists of someone breaking into a building with the goal or intention of committing a crime of some kind.


When a police officer asks about the "LKA" for an individual, what are they asking about?

Of course, one of the biggest jobs a police officer will have is trying to track down suspects to question or arrest. Knowing their LKA (or last known address) can be incredibly beneficial in the search.


If a criminal is aggressively resisting arrest or is threatening the lives of officers, they might give him a "wood shampoo." What is it?

Giving someone a wood shampoo is when an officer will hit a criminal in the head with their baton. While this kind of force isn't often needed, there is the odd situation that will call for it. It is called a wood shampoo as these batons used to be made of wood.


What does a police officer mean when they say "Tango" to another officer?

If an officer says "Tango" to another either over the radio or in person, it is essentially that officer saying thank you. Oftentimes, "Tango" can also be the radio dispatcher code for the letter T when spelling out a name.


When a police officer reports someone as DRT, what do they mean?

DRT stands for "dead right there." It is often mentioned at the scene of another accident or other situation where an individual is already deceased, and thus no life-saving techniques or medical attention needs to be given and focus can be on other individuals who could still be saved.


If an officer says "over" over the radio, what does it mean?

Radio talk is incredibly common among police officers, and some of the radios will only allow one side to talk at once. On these radios, it is common to say over when you are done talking, so the other side knows when they can start.


When an officer is chasing down a criminal, and "splashes" them, what does it mean?

While stressful and potentially dangerous, foot pursuits do occasionally happen when police are in the line of duty. An officer may need to "splash" a suspect at times, which means to take them down to the ground.


What does it mean when an officer reports someone is "DIP"?

If an officer is reporting a DIP, it means they have an individual drunk in public. Simply being drunk in public won't normally attract the attention of the police, unless a person is being a nuisance.


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