What Is a 10 4 Police Code

What Is a 10-4 Police Code?

Police codes are a system of numerical signals used by law enforcement agencies to communicate efficiently and effectively. One such code that has gained popularity through media portrayals is the 10-4 police code. This article will explore the meaning and origins of the 10-4 police code, as well as its usage and variations.

Origin and Meaning of 10-4 Police Code

The 10-4 police code is derived from the ten-codes, a standardized system of communication developed in the 1940s by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) in the United States. These codes were created to enable officers to quickly exchange information over the radio while minimizing confusion and misinterpretation.

The 10-4 code specifically is used to acknowledge a message or provide confirmation. When an officer receives a message, they respond with “10-4,” which indicates they have understood and will comply with the instructions or information provided. This code is widely recognized and utilized not only by police departments but also in various other emergency services and trucking industries.

Usage and Variations

While the 10-4 code is widely used, it is important to note that each police department may have its own set of codes and variations. The meaning of 10-4 can remain consistent, but other codes may differ between agencies or regions. Therefore, it is crucial for officers to familiarize themselves with the specific codes used within their department.

In addition to its primary meaning of acknowledgment or confirmation, the 10-4 code can also be used as a stand-alone phrase to indicate “okay” or “understood.” It is often portrayed in movies and TV shows as a way for officers to quickly communicate their understanding without further explanation.

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FAQs about the 10-4 Police Code

Q: Is the 10-4 code universally recognized by all police departments?
A: While the 10-4 code is widely used, there may be slight variations between departments or regions. It is crucial for officers to familiarize themselves with the codes specific to their department.

Q: Can civilians use the 10-4 code?
A: The 10-4 code is primarily used by law enforcement officers, emergency services, and trucking industries. However, civilians may adopt it as a colloquial phrase to indicate understanding or agreement in informal settings.

Q: Are police codes confidential?
A: While police codes are not classified information, they are primarily used for efficient communication within law enforcement agencies. Sharing these codes with unauthorized individuals could potentially compromise operational security.

Q: Are police codes the same worldwide?
A: Police codes can vary between countries and even within different regions within a country. The 10-4 code is primarily used in the United States, but other countries may have their own systems of communication.

Q: Are police codes used in daily interactions between officers?
A: Police codes are typically used during radio transmissions to ensure clear and concise communication. However, officers also rely on traditional spoken language during face-to-face interactions.


The 10-4 police code plays a crucial role in enabling efficient and effective communication among law enforcement officers. Originating from the ten-codes system, the 10-4 code is widely recognized as a way to acknowledge a message or provide confirmation. While variations may exist between departments and regions, the 10-4 code remains a staple in the law enforcement community. Its prominence in popular culture has also led to its adoption in casual conversations, emphasizing the impact and familiarity of police codes in our daily lives.

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