Ever wonder what they’re saying to one another and what it all means? This is just a brief sample police slang terms used over the radios and on the street.
Below this list, please see the links I have attached to find out more on this subject.
Abba Dabba: A criminal, the implication being that he or she is some sort of evolutionary throwback.
Artillery: A slang term for a hypodermic syringe.
A.V.A.N.H.I.: “Asshole Versus Asshole, No Humans Involved.”
Badge Heavy: Being overly authoritative and intimidating.
Barfbag: Used as police jargon for a criminal.
Bindle: A small envelope of heroin, morphine, cocaine, etc. Also known as a deck.
Black Jack: A hand weapon consisting of a short elastic shaft having at one end a heavy metal head encased in netting, leather, etc.
Boogie: A derogatory term for a black person.
Bookie: A bookmaker.
Bookmaker: A term for a person who takes bets on races. Also known as a bookie.
Boost: A term for shoplifting or theft.
Buddha Heads: A derogatory term for Asian people.
Bunco: Used as a term for a dice game involving loaded dice. Later this term was used to describe swindling in general.
Bunco Squad: A term first used to describe a police fraud squad.
Burn/Burned: This term first appeared in the police vocabulary in Mills Report in 1973: “The ultimate disaster is discovery- in undercover language a ‘burn’. When junkies and pushers… learn or suspect an agent’s identity, he has ‘taken a burn’.”
Bust: This term is referring to a police raid. It later came to be used as a synonym for arrest.
Bustle Rubber: 1) A prostitute. 2) A person that practices frotteurism: touching and rubbing up against a non-consenting person. Also known as bustle-punching. Bustle is an old slang term for the buttocks.
By The Nose: Surveillance term. A surveillance vehicle which has the suspect’s vehicle behind them is said to have the suspect “by the nose”.
Canoe Maker: Coroner.
Cap: 1) To shoot, ie. ‘snap a cap”, or “bust a cap”. 2) A capsule of heroin or other narcotics.
Cat: A slang term for the relatively new and powerful stimulant methcathenone, which is sometimes substituted for cocaine as it gives a stronger high.
Cat Burglar: Originally this was a name for a burglar who enters through upper story windows. Nowadays it is often used to describe a burglar who strikes at night while the occupants of a home are asleep.
Choir Practice: A police term for an after work “tailgate party” in a park or other secluded place.
Coconut: A cocaine addict.
Code Two: A police dispatch term for “respond quickly but not with lights and siren”.
Code Three: A police term for responding with lights and siren.
Code Four: A police term for pursuit.
Code Seven: Meal break.
Connection: Originally the act of purchasing drugs. Later referred to the drugs purchased or to the drug dealer.
Cop: A slang term for a police officer.
Crash: 1) A slang term for sleeping. A crash pad is a place where criminals go to sleep. 2) To return to a normal state after being high on drugs.
C.U.B.O.: “Conduct Un Becoming an Officer”. Called “cue bow” by cops.
D.B.: Dead body.
Dealer: A person who sells drugs.
Deck: A small envelope containing heroin, cocaine, or other drugs.
Dicks: A derogatory Canadian slang term for detectives
Dime Bag: $10 worth of drugs.
Dine and Dash: To order and consume a meal in a restaurant and then leave without paying for it. Also known as “eat no pay”.
D.O.A.: Dead On Arrival.
Doing The Chicken: Tremors in an unconscious person. Refers to the death throws of a decapitated chicken. Police officers using vascular restraint holds to render a fighting suspect unconscious are said to be “making them do the chicken.”
Dope: It was used as a term for a drug addict, referring to the fact that a person was stupid (“a dope”) for being one. Nowadays it is used in reference to any sort of illegal narcotic.
Dope Fiend: A drug addict. See dope.
Eat No Pay: See Dine and Dash.
End of Watch: Also referred to as E.O.W. Originally meant the end of a shift, but has become a slang term for the death of a police officer, often as a result of a suicide.
E.O.W.: See End of Watch.
Fighting Ghosts: Trying to catch burglars.
F.I.G.M.O.: “Fuck It, Got My Orders.” A police slang term borrowed from the military.
Fink: This term was first used to describe a person who betrayed their associates now it is being used as a verb describing the act of informing to the police.
Fit: A hypodermic syringe, short for “hypodermic outfit”.
Fix: A slang term meaning to use drugs.
Flim Flam: To swindle a victim by short changing them.
Floater: A corpse found floating in a body of water.
Four Fifteen Personality: 415 is the California Penal Code section for disturbing the peace. A cop with a 415 personality is a cop who regularly turns peaceful calls into brawls, a troublemaker who enjoys inciting riots.
Fruit Hustler: A male prostitute. Also used to describe a man who robs or extorts money from homosexuals.
F.U.B.A.R.: “ Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition.” A police slang acronym borrowed from the military.
Funny Place: Derogatory term for a mental hospital.
Ganja: Also Ganje. Originally an Indian term for marijuana.
Gat: This slang term for a gun is probably derived from the Gatling Gun, a crank operated, multibarrel machine gun. It was later referred to by its operators as a “Gat”.
Geez/Geeze: An injection of drugs.
Geezing: Injecting drugs (see Geez).
Gravy Train: This expression in reference to a source or condition of undeserved ease, advantage, or profit. In a police context it refers to a case file that promises to be lucrative in the way of overtime.
Gumshoe: Originally a term for sneakers, which had gum rubber soles. It first appeared as a term for a plain clothes detective or private investigator in 1889-1900. It also refers to the act of sneaking about quietly while searching for something.
Gunsel: Derived originally from the Yidish term “gendzl”, meaning “goose” or “raw youth” back in 1910. In 1941 it had become a term for a gunman or thug.
Half A Piece: Half a gram of drugs.
Handbook: A small bookmaker (q.v.) who takes bets on horse races.
Hang Six: To act as a lookout (see six).
Hangtoughs: A term for criminals.
Head: A term for an addict. Variations include hash head, pot head, dope head, coke head, etc.
Heat: 1) First appeared as a verb describing intense police activity or harassment. In 1930 it was listed as a slang term for a police officer. 2) First used as a slang term for a hangun.
Holding: In possession of drugs.
Holding the Deck: It is a reference to a “Stacked Deck” – meaning to effect a specific outcome of that persons case. Likely the officer may have said “we are holding the deck” meaning the deck is stacked against you, meaning the case is a slam dunk.
H.P.: An acronym for the expression “half price”. A police slang term for places that offer discounts to police officers.
H.U.A.: “Head Up Ass”. A term usually used to describe inept motorists by police officers.
Hugger Mugger: A prostitute who acts as a decoy for a mugger or who herself robs victims.
Hype: Used as an abbreviation for a hypodermic syringe. Later used to describe an addict.
I.A.D.: Internal Affairs Department.
I.E.D.: Improvised Explosive Device.
I.I.S.: Internal Investigation Squad.
Jailhouse Tattoos: Homemade tattoos made with pencil lead shavings and spit or ballpoint pen ink. A jailhouse tattoo of a cross made at the base of the thumb indicates a person who has been a convict.
Joint: 1) First appeared in 1877 as a slang term for a place set up to do a swindle. 2) First used to describe an opium den in 1881. 3) First used to describe a brothel in 1894. 4) First used to describe a prison in 1933. 5) First used as a slang term for a homemade hypodermic syringe in 1935. 6) First used to describe a hand rolled marijuana cigarette in 1942.
Juke: A term of Afro-Caribbean origin of Jamaican Slang. It is a verb meaning “to poke, stab or prick”. Later it became a slang term for stabbing.
Junk: A term first used to describe heroin.
Junkie: A person who uses junk.
Key: A slang term for a kilogram.
Kick Pad: A drug or alcohol rehabilitation center. The expression”to kick a (drug) habit” dates back to 1958.
Laughing Academy: A derogatory term for a mental hospital.
Lid: An ounce of marijuana.
Lightweight: A small time crook.
Mainline: To inject drugs directly into a major vein in the arm or leg.
Man, The: 1) First used to describe a prison warden in 1918. 2) First used to describe a prison guard in 1930. 3) First used to describe a cop in 1933.
Markers: A bookie’s records of money owed.
Milking: Milking a call is failing to clear a call that you are on in order to do other things that you want to do without the dispatcher or supervisor bothering you.
M.O.: See Modus Operandi.
Modus Operandi: Often shortened to M.O. A Latin term referring to a criminal’s mode of operating.
Mugger: A criminal who strong arms his victims.
Narc: A slang term for a narcotics squad officer.
Narc Ark: An unmarked police car (see Narc).
Narco: A term for narcotics. Later it was used to describe a drug squad officer.
N.H.I.: See A.V.A.N.H.I.
Nightstick: A wooden or synthetic club carried by police officers since the beginning of the 20th century. The name seems to refer to its use as a means of protection by police officers patrolling on foot on the night watch.
Nine Irons: A derogatory term for Asian people. It refers to the slant of their eyes (the head of a nine iron is slanted).
Paddy: A white person. Derives from the slang term for people of Irish descent.
Paddy Wagon: A slang term for a police wagon used to transport prisoners. Derives from the slang term for people of Irish descent.
Paper: A small envelope containing drugs (see deck, bindle).
Phone Spot: Also known as a relay or a relay spot. The connection that a bookie calls his betting action into. The relay person writes the bets down on a blackboard or white board which can be wiped clean if cops bust the relay.
Piece: 1) A gun. 2) A slang term for one gram of drugs.
Pigeon Drop: Two suspects flim flaming an old man.
Pill Head: A person addicted to prescription drugs.
Pinch: 1) First used as a synonym for the verb “steal”. 2) Then used as a verb meaning “arrest”.
Piss Kid: Rookie cop.
Pogue: Originally a term used to describe a youthful homosexual male. It was later absorbed into police slang to describe an officer who “sucks up” to his superiors.
Pop: 1) First used as a verb describing the injection of illegal drugs. 2) Also used as a verb meaning to “arrest”.
Pot: First used to describe marijuana.
Pusher: 1) First used to describe a prostitute. 2) Then used to describe a drug dealer.
Quiet Air: When the radio is quiet (nobody is transmitting). A quiet shift.
Rabbit: To take off running.
Rat: A term used to describe a police informant.
Rat Jacket: To “get a rat (snitch) jacket” or “get a jacket” means to become known as a police informant.
Rig: A hypodermic syringe.
R.I.N.: “Rap In the Nuts”. Self explanatory.
Roach: Used to describe the butt of a marijuana cigarette.
Roscoe: A handgun
Roust: A term meaning to rough up or harass which first appeared in 1904.
R.T.O.: “Return To Office.” An expression used to describe heading in at the end of shift. Originated in surveillance: the supervisor would transmit to his officers to head in at the end of the day by coming over the air and telling them to “R.T. O.”
Ruby: A surveillance term used to describe a red light. A suspect vehicle stopped for a red light is broadcast as: “Suspect stopped for a ruby.”
Sam Browne Belt: Named for British Army officer General Sir Samuel J. Browne (1824-1901). A belt with one or two diagonal shoulder straps used to carry a pistol.
Sap: A club or short staff. In the early days of policing, police officers were sometimes issued saps.
Sap Gloves: Gloves with pouches of powdered metal (usually lead) or sand in the palms and padded knuckles to make them more effective for punching or striking.
Scag: A term for illegal drugs.
Score: 1) A synonym for stealing. 2) Also used to describe a purchase of illegal drugs.
Scottish Handshake: A head butt. This is an old rugby term adopted by police.
Scrotes: A term for criminals (derived from the word “scrotum”).
Scumbag: First used to describe a condom in 1967. In 1971 it was first used as a derogatory term for an unwholesome person.
Secret Service Money: Money supplied by the department to pay informants or buy drugs.
Set Up: A term first used to describe a stake out.
Shag: 1) An arrest. 2) Sexual intercourse.
Shim: Originally referred to a thin wedge of metal or wood used to fill a gap. Later became used to describe a thin metal or plastic probe used to open the locks of windows or doors.
Shit: Used as a synonym for drugs.
Shooting Gallery: Used to describe a place where people gather to inject drugs.
Shooting Up: Used to describe the act of injecting drugs.
Shoulder: A methamphetamine high.
Six, Sixing: To keep watch. To act as a lookout.
Skipper: A methamphetamine addict or “speed freak” . Refers to their pacing and uncoordinated movements (ataxia).
Slim Jim: A metal or plastic probe used by wrecker drivers (and thieves) to open car doors.
Slopes: A derogatory term for Asians.
Snitch: A slang term for an informant.
Speed Ball: A mixture of cocaine with heroin or morphine.
Speed Freaks: Used to describe methamphetamine addicts.
Spike: A slang term for a hypodermic needle.
Stake Out: Also referred to as a set up.
Stickup: A slang term for an armed robbery.
Stuff: Used as a slang term for illegal drug, especially heroin.
Taxi Dancing: Prostitution.
Team Policing: A very popular term which means different things in different police departments. Described it as “deployment as often as possible of the same man in a given radio car district, making these men responsible not only for uniform patrol in that district but for helping the detectives with their follow up investigation.
Till Tappers/Till Punch: A theft committed by reaching quickly over the sales counter, punching the till open and grabbing money out of the till.
Tracks/Track Marks: Bruise marks that appear as long lines along the veins in the arm or leg caused by the injection of illegal drugs.
Turn: “Turn” became a verb describing the act of turning into an informant. Variations include “turned that guy”, “turn states evidence”, and “turn him in”.
Tweaking: Using depressants such as alcohol or heroin to overcome dysphoria due to heavy methamphetamine use.
V.C.B.: Surveillance slang meaning “Visual Contact Broken”. Another way of saying “I lost sight of the suspect.”
Watering the Vegetables: Slang expression for keeping a brain dead person alive even when recovery is hopeless.
Weed: Used to describe marijuana.
Weinie Waggers: People who expose their genitals in public.
Wino: A term used to describe an alcoholic.