9 slang terms only police officers would know

UniversalPolice officers often use their own lingo.

  • Even though it might seem fake on cop shows and in movies, police officers do, in fact, use official codes and unofficial jargon to communicate.
  • Officers may have been using codes as early as the 1920s to keep communication succinct and precise over airwaves.
  • Though each police department has its own official codes, there are unofficial phrases that most officers use, regardless of where they are.

Fictional cops in the movies and on TV shows always have weird codes and phrases they use to communicate with each other, but that’s not far off the mark for police in real life.

Officers have been using codes as early as the 1920s to keep communication succinct over the radio. Today, those codes and jargon have almost become a separate language.

While each police department has its own specific code for communication, there are many similarities and most have their codes published online, including the NYPD and the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police.

Police also have unofficial jargon they use across the board, regardless of department. Read on to find out what some of their most interesting phrases mean, based on definitions on the Police Magazine Cop Slang website.


“Berries and Cherries” refers to the lights on a patrol car.

tome213/ShutterstockThe name refers to the colours of the lights on patrol cars.

When a police officer refers to “berries and cherries,” they are likely referring to the blue and red lights on a patrol car.


“Hookem and Bookem” means handcuffing someone and booking them.

Mario Tama/Getty ImagesThere are many variations of this term.

In police slang, the term “hookem and bookem” means handcuffing someone and booking them into the system. This is similar to the famous catchphrase “Book ’em, Danno!” from “Hawaii Five-O.”


“10-4” is a way for cops to say they understand.

Warner BrothersThere is more than one ten-code.

Using something called ten-codes in police lingo, “10-4” means the cop saying it understands what they have been told. That’s not to be confused with “10-45” which has multiple meanings, depending on the police department.


“Deuce” is the word cops use for someone driving under the influence.

Voyagerix / ShutterstockA person driving under the influence is often referred to as a ‘deuce.’

The slang term “deuce,” which refers to someone driving under the influence, comes from California, where drunk driving was governed by Section 502 of the California Vehicle Code.


A “House Mouse” is an officer who doesn’t go out on patrol.

ShutterstockA ‘house mouse’ doesn’t go out on patrol.

If a police officer doesn’t go out on patrol, he or she might be referred to as a “house mouse” based on cop lingo.


“FIDO” means “Forget It, Drive On.”

Wikimedia CommonsIf police deem something unworthy of stopping for, they might say ‘FIDO.’

“FIDO” is an acronym used by police officers that means “F— It, Drive On” or “Forget It, Drive On.” Officers would use this if they decided not to look into something that might be suspicious.


To “Mirandize” is to inform an arrestee of their Constitutional rights.

BBCIf arrested, the arrestee will hear their Miranda Rights.

When an officer “Mirandizes” an arrestee, that means he or she has read the person their Constitutional rights before they are questioned.

The term comes from Miranda Rights which are named after the 1966 Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, where it was decided that anyone who has been arrested must be informed of their rights.

Those rights include the right to not speak to police and if they do, their statements could be used in a court of law. Their rights also include the right to an attorney, whether it’s an attorney they choose or a court-appointed lawyer.

According to Police Magazine,“Mirandarize” is most commonly used in the South.


A “Sam Browne” refers to an officer’s belt.

FlickrIt’s named after its inventor.

When a cop talks about the utility belts they wear, there’s a good chance they will call them a “Sam Browne,” named after General Sam Browne, who came up with the idea of wearing a second belt over his right shoulder after losing his left arm making it difficult for him to draw his sword.


When an injury appears life-threatening, a cop might say “put a rush on the bus.”

OgnjenO/ShutterstockThe ‘bus’ refers to the ambulance.

Used especially in New York City, saying “put a rush on the bus” refers to when a cop wants an ambulance to respond quickly. It’d most likely be used when a victim’s injury appears life-threatening.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.