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Listen To Live Police Radio

When the first police scanners came out, my mother bought one so she could hear what was happening in her city, and especially to hear if anything bad was being reported in her own neighborhood.

Today's so-called reality shows are way too staged for my taste. Their contrived situations and semi-scripted actions actually render them somewhat less than real.

For unvarnished reality, try listening to a police scanner. You'll hear real cops answering real crime calls. You'll hear police officers as they head into potentially dangerous situations. You'll hear police dispatchers as they try to keep up with everything from fender benders to shootings--all in a standard night's work for many police departments.

When the first police scanners came out, my mother bought one so she could hear what was happening in her city, and especially to hear if anything bad was being reported in her own neighborhood.

I remember coming in late at night from a date to find her sitting at the kitchen table with the scanner going. Naturally, she had been worrying about where I was and listening to hear if there had been any wrecks.

When my brother became a policeman, my mother really had something to worry about--and an excuse to listen to the police radio day in and day out.

Police scanners are not just for professional worriers, though. Many people listen to them as a hobby. Newspaper, radio and TV reporters listen to them in order to get the first word of a major crime or accident so they can get to the scene quickly.

Nowadays, you don't even need a police scanner to hear police calls in many cities. There are hundreds of live police radio feeds being streamed over the Internet. There are also fire department radio feeds as well. All you do is click a link for the city of your choice and start listening.

Picture of a scanner Tonight, I listened for about an hour to the live police feed from my hometown, a medium-sized city with a normal share of crime and other human conflict. During that hour, I heard police answer calls to respond to an assault, a stolen car, an attempted home break-in, and someone who was threatening her neighbor with a knife.

A number of Web sites exist that have links to police scanners across the United States. Two good ones are and has more scanner links, fiire as well as police, but it is disorganized and, to be frank, pretty junky looking. Nevertheless, it's worth a visit just for the sheer number of scanner feeds available. is also a rather cluttered site, but its scanner list is much neater and better organized. As the list is arranged by state, it's easier to find a particular town's or city's police radio link.

Get the most out of listening to live police radio: Learn the 10-codes!

Police use special codes over the radio. Many of the most common ones start with "10." You're undoubtedly familiar with "10-4," meaning "I copied (heard) you." But what about "10-12" or "10-19?" If you don't know the codes, or have a list of them near to hand, you won't always know what is happening.

Below are some of the most common 10-codes, but there are others. There are also other sets of codes, used by some police departments, that do not begin with "10," or any number for that matter. For example, in some cities you might hear a dispatcher tell a police officer to respond to an "ADW," that is, an assault with a deadly weapon.

10-7 Officer is out of service
10-8 Officer is in service and available
10-9 Repeat last transmission, please
10-12 Officials are present - be discreet
10-15 Prisoner is in custody
10-19 Returning to the station
10-22 Disregard your last assignment
10-24 Emergency at the station - all vehicles return
10-27 Driver's license check
10-32 Drowning
10-33 Alarm sounding
10-34 Please assist at office
10-43 Call a doctor
10-50 Subject under influence of narcotics
10-51 Subject is drunk
10-54 Possible dead body
10-56 Suicide
10-64 Found property
10-66 Suspicious person reported
10-67 Someone is calling for help
10-70 Prowler
10-71 Shooting
10-72 Knifing
10-79 Bomb threat
10-80 Explosion
10-91 Barking dog
A.I. - Accident Investigator
A.L.S. - Advanced Life Support (also called Alpha)
A.C.F.A. - Attempt to Commit Felonious Assault
A.D.W. - Assault with a Deadly Weapon
A.R.M. - Alternate Report Method
A.R.T.C.C. - Air Route Traffic Control Center
A.T.I.S. - Automatic Terminal Information Service
A.T.L. - Attempt to Locate
A.W.O.S. - Automated Weather Observation System
B.C.J. - Bay County Jail
B.L.S. - Basic Life Support (also called Bravo)
B.M.C. - Bay Regional Medical Center
B.O.L. - Be On the Lookout
C.C.W. - Carrying Concealed Weapon
C.H.F. - Congestive Heart Failure
C.M.I.S. - Criminal Management Information System
C.S.C. - Criminal Sexual Conduct
D.W.I. - Driving While Intoxicated
D.W.L.S. - Driving While License Suspended
F.A.C. - Failed to Appear in Court
F.T.C. - Failure to Comply (with court judgement)
G.O.A. - Gone on Arrival
H&R - Hit and Run
HEARN - Hospital Emerg. Administrative Radio Network
HOOK - Tow Truck
K - Killed
L.E.I.N. - Law Enforcement Information Network
L.Z. - Landing Zone (Helicoptors)
M.E. - Medical Examiner
M.I.P. - Minors in Possession of Alcohol or Tobacco
M.D.O.P. - Malicious Destrution of Property
M.D.T. - Mobile Data Terminal
M.S.O. - Marine Safety Officer
O.D. - Officer of the Day
O.T.L. - Out to Lunch
O.U.I.L. - Operating Under the Influence of Liquor (or O.U.)
P&L - Prostitution and Loitering
P.B.T. - Portable Breathalizer Test
P.D.A. - Property Damage Accident
P.I. - Personal Injury Accident
P.I.W. - Person(s) in Water
P.O.B. - Person(s) on Board
P.P.O. - Personal Protection Order
R.A. - Robbery Armed
R.T.D. - Return to Department
S.A.R. - Search & Rescue
S.O.R. - Sex Offender Registration
S.O.S. - Secretary of State
T.X. - Telephone Call
U.C. - Under Cover
U.D.A.A. - Unlawfully Driving Away an Automobile
U.T.L. - Unable to Locate
V.C.S.A. - Violation of Chemical Substance Act

900 police codes you will hear on police scanners:

900 Bomb threat
901 Homicide
902 Sudden death
903 Attempted suicide
904 Sex offense
905 Indecent act
906 Threatening
907 Assault
908 Abduction
909 Robbery
910 Extortion
911 Break and enter
912 Theft
913 Auto theft
914 Possess stolen property
915 Fraud
916 Counterfeiting
917 Weapon
918 Property damage
919 Prostitution
920 Gambling
921 Drugs
922 Missing person
923 Escape
924 Fire
925 Theft alarm
926 Assist citizen
927 Assist officer
928 Locate
929 Phone call
930 Disturbance
931 Landlord-tenant dispute
932 Neighbor dispute
933 Domestic dispute
934 Labor dispute
935 Intoxicated person
936 Unwanted person
937 Mentally ill person
938 Public mischief
939 Dangerous condition
940 Industrial accident
941 Farm accident
942 Insecure location
943 Lost property
944 Found property
945 Trespassing
946 Prowler
947 Suspicious person
948 Suspicious vehicle
949 Arrest
950 Property accident
951 Accident person injured
952 Hit and run accident
953 Accident - fatality
954 Traffic enforcement
955 Driving complaint
956 Traffic control
957 Impaired driver
958 High speed chase
959 Parking complaint
960 Abandoned vehicle
961 Liquor offense
962 Animal complaint
963 Noise complaint
964 Escort
965 Juvenile offense
966 Probation offense
967 Search warrant
968 Shoplifting complaint
969 Injured person
970 Missing juvenile
971 Privately towed vehicle
972 Motorcycle complaint
973 By-law complaint
974 Check premises
975 Paid duty
976 Follow up
977 Arrest on warrant
978 Arson
979 Theft under $200
980 Routine detail
981 Provincial alert
982 Zone alert
983 Administrative alert
984 Missing adult located
985 Missing juvenile located
986 Property returned
987 Stolen vehicle recovered
988 Vehicle break and enter
991 Graffiti related
993 Domestic- not husb/wife
999 Other

Go to for live, 24-hour audio broadcasts of police scanners in major cities around the United States.

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