Wednesday, June 01, 2005

In English? 10-4

Thanks to a federal homeland security mandate, many police and fire personnel will phase out their famous 10 Codes by October 2006. The move toward plain language is supposed to simplify inter-agency communication, and it will. As Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning notes, though, the downside is that transmissions will take longer.


Blogger Hanging by the News said...

Simplification? Perhaps. But is it a good thing? Perhaps not.

For the most part, 10 codes are universal among police and fire departments, so neighboring agencies that hear another agency's radio communication can usually tell what is going on.

The upside to eliminating the codes is that it would eliminate any variations in 10 code uses between agencies and in different locales.

The downsides are having longer radio chatter (which could prolong service when time is of the essence), and that anyone with a scanner would be able to tell what kind of incidents are happening where. And that's sort of a bad thing.

I don't think authorities ought to broadcast in plain English that a suicide attempt is taking place somewhere (for instance), as that might encourage the public to rush to that location and potentially block authorities. Calling the suicide attempt a 10-44 would likely prevent that. Same goes for a police chase (10-80), a riot (10-34), murder (10-43) and other incidents.

The better solution would be a national uniform 10 code list or other uniform system to eliminate any differences in codes.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

A uniform 10 Code would be another answer, but it also could cause confusion if officers momentarily forget that a given code meant something innocuous under the old system but means something much more serious under the new one. It'd save transmission time, but nothing's perfect.

6:45 PM  

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