REED AND MALLOY WORKING ON A NEW “10” CODE!
Catch a cop show over the past several decades and these strings of numbers barked over police radios might sound familiar:
“1-Adam-12, a 4-15 fight.” …”We have a 9-11. Armed robbery in progress.”
Or in the words of the bumbling Barney Fife: “Mayberry Unit No. 1 over and, uh, Roger. Roger. Out and under. 10-40. Bye.”
But many real-life police departments are ditching the digits, replacing the lingo with plain English.
In Dallas, that means so long “7,” hello “minor accident.”
Today, the Dallas Police Department moves to a new plain-language system that’s supposed to make communications more universal and less complicated. No more of those distinctive radio codes or signals.
The department says it’s following a nationwide trend, but some call it the end of an era. LINK
I thought this was kind of funny. The end of radio code is seen as a major deal in Dallas. I guess old habits do die hard after all. The fire service doesn’t have much use for radio codes (at least not in my neck of the woods). It’s always been a cop thing to me. When I did a detour in law enforcement years ago, I thought it was pretty funny when they handed me a list of about fifty radio 10- codes that I had to memorize. I knew right away I was too goofy to pull that off. Today most police departments are going to plain English and I think that’s a good thing. Being able to communicate clearly and concisely in your mother tongue should be viewed as a requirement for police and emergency services.
I remember while I was in the Army a guy didn’t make Sgt. because the board thought he lacked a “command voice”. It was true. He was a very quiet guy. Smart, great disposition but you just couldn’t hear him. Not the best thing on a battlefield. They told him to practice some more and try again. Today he probably would have retained a lawyer. But in their way the board was stressing an important element of command – and that’s communication. Not only do you need to be heard but you need to be understood when lives are in danger.
Plain English is fine on the radio. You develop an ear for the back and forth traffic. When we get rookies in the firehouse they sometimes don’t understand how you can be on the other side of the kitchen with the TV on and twenty guys laughing and carrying on all kinds of conversation – yet know that a job is hitting in over the radio. It’s because you know the rhythm of what’s being said as much as the content. Normal radio communications have a certain flow, a pattern. Abnormal conversation also has a pattern. If you hear the patterns long enough you begin to pick out what’s important and what’s not. Something out of the ordinary jumps out at you and gets your attention. Otherwise, you would go crazy trying to pay attention to every transmission or word.
I’m sure Dallas will be just fine after they ditch their ten codes. I just hope the switch to English. Know what I mean?