How To Speak Cop — Version 2.0

Code 3 to a 10-72. See a scrote in PSP jackrabbit, wall-it, turn a shiv, take the electric slide and a blast of Jesus Juice, then hagged-up and scrogged-out before jewelried, bunwagoned, shipped through the Sally Port, nutted & butted, then inked and blinked before bowing to the turn key and clinked in the cooler.

Huh? Say what? This time in plain-speak, please.

Okay. To someone who doesn’t speak cop, this jargon, lingo, acronym and code sounds foreign. It’s not necessarily a secret language, though. It’s just the way cop-talk has evolved over time. Let’s dissect the opening paragraph so it’s understandable to the GP (General Public).

Code 3 (responding with emergency equipment activated) to a 10-72 (serious crime in progress). See a scrote (criminal element) in PSP (Possession of Stolen Property) jackrabbit (make a run for it), wall-it (no place to go), turn a shiv (knife), take the electric slide (get Tasered) and a blast of Jesus Juice (OC pepper spray), then hagged-up (chewed by a police dog) and scrogged-out (physically controlled) before jewelried (handcuffed), bunwagoned (put in the prisoner van), shipped through the Sally Port (secure vehicle bay between the outside and the cell block), nutted & butted (strip searched), then inked and blinked (fingerprinted and photographed) before bowing to the turn key (received by the jail guard) and clinked in the cooler (locked in a cell).

See? That makes perfect sense once it’s explained. However, there’s a lot more to cop-speak than this snippet.

Several weeks ago, I wrote a Kill Zone post titled How To Speak Cop — Version 1.0. It was basic with stuff like 10-Codes, the phonetic alphabet and typical rank structures within police departments. It went over well (if you can believe the comments), and there seemed to be an appetite for a deeper drill into how LE (Law Enforcement) officers communicate. So here’s Version 2.0 on How To Speak Cop.

Inter and Intra Departmental Dysfunction

The biggest misconception the GP has of LE and other FR (First Responders) is they all get along. One big happy red, white & blue family. Right? Wrong.

Cops feud amongst themselves and with other ERs (Emergency Responders)—particularly the hydrant humpers or basement savers (firefighters). (Not that the hose draggers don’t have terms for the pigs). Internally, within the police structure, it starts with a disconnect between labor and management. The grunts and the carpet cops.

The white shirts (commissioned officers like the Chief Cumquat and his Brasshole commanders) are office bitches. They’re comma commies who push paper, not pursue pukes. Sure, the odd time a dinosaur rides-along and some geardo volunteers to Drive Miss Daisy but, for the most part, house mouses stay in their Ivory Tower  or Puzzle Palace and respond to Dear Chiefs.

Disconnect? It’s no wonder a PFL (Patrolman For Life) would pull an Upper Decker (sneak into the Chief’s executive washroom and drop a deuce [#2] in the toilet tank).

You’re probably wondering what a Dear Chief is. Every cop, at some point in their service, F’s up and has to write an account of their F-up. It’s usually a self-serving explanation for a momentary lapse in judgment. I found this Dear Chief letter online, and it’s too good not to share:

“Dear Chief, I recently purchased a Smith and Wesson Model 642 .38 caliber airweight subcompact revolver as a backup weapon. Last night before roll call I accidently shot a hole in the squad room’s avocado-colored Kenmore 20.9 cu. Ft. refrigerator while showing my weapon to a few officers. The ice maker sustained a kill shot to its motor, rendering it DRT. The energy star rating was a 3.5 and even though I placed a band aide over the .38 caliber perforation, it’s probably a lot less now. I went online and tried to order new parts but apparently they stopped making this model in 1973. In the meantime, I put a 60 quart ice chest with wheels and telescoping handle next to the fridge with four bags of ice in it.”

The problem with carpet cops is they have to get their breeding stock somewhere. It starts with cheese dicks in the trenches. You get guys like Lick Larry, the Milk Man, Gary The Gash and Pillow Face who are dump trucks. They’re hall monitors and eventually it’s a MUPPET who makes chief. MUPPET, by the way, is the acronym for Most Useless Police Person Ever Trained.

It’s not just the ladder rungs who dumpster fight. The rift extends to operational units like the goofs-in-suits (detectives) with the odd Dickless Tracy in the mix, the harness bulls (patrol division) and the traffic monkeys who are also known as road apes, boulevard baboons and the simians of speed.

On The Street

There are more cop terms for street people than I can count. Some are fair. Some are not. But there’s a zero sum game going on. Cops keep these low-lives from killing themselves and each other while the dirt bags keep cops employed. Here’s a random sample of names cops give to bottom feeders:

  • Scrote (Derivative of scrotum)
  • Puke
  • Gutter Snipe
  • Lurch
  • Hairbag
  • JAFA — Just Another F’n A-hole
  • Maggot
  • Scumbag
  • Oxygen Thief or Sucking Air Syndrome
  • Mumbzee
  • Jackleg Ratchet Ass
  • Golf Foxtrot Zulu (Giant F’n Zit)
  • Banjo Pickers, Mouth Breathers and Trailer Trash who live in a Cat Piss Palace

It can get dangerous on the street. Cops have all sorts of defensive and offensive terminology like their Sam Browne with Basket Weave, Tupperwear (Glock pistol), Hot Stick (loaded weapon), Bang Switch (trigger) and Booger Hook (trigger finger), Booya (shotgun), In The Pipe (chambered round), New York Reload (backup piece), and “Eat Some Lead, Barrel Sucker”.

Cops need vehicles on the street, and they give them lots of different names. We covered Bunwagon which is universal. So is PC which stands for police car, patrol car, police cruiser or something like that. Here are a few more vehicles according to cop-speak:

  • Ghost Car (unmarked patrol car)
  • Slick (marked car without Berries and Cherries or roof lights)
  • Ghetto Bird (police helicopter)
  • UC Unit (undercover car) with Ghost Plates (untraceable Markers)
  • Organ Donors (motorcycles)

A police specialty on the street is surveillance. Bigger departments have dedicated surveillance units that do nothing but follow crooks around. They get pretty good at it, and they’ve developed their own special lingo. Here’s a sample:

  • The Target (person being surveilled)
  • The Eye (person who has the Target in visual contact)
  • The Wheel (surveillance vehicle driver)
  • The Foot (passenger who can get out and follow at any time)
  • R-Bender (right turn)
  • L-Bender (left turn)
  • Fresh Ruby (new red light)
  • Stale Emerald (old green light)
  • Crowing (target is standing and looking around)
  • Rubbernecking (target keeps looking over their shoulder)
  • Taking Heat (target is being suspicious of a surveillance unit)
  • Burned (target has made the surveillance team)
  • Call Off The Dogs (surveillance is shut down)

Behind The Badge

Cop-speak has hundreds, if not thousands, of specific terms and labels. Some of it is quite derogatory and vulgar, so I’m not going to post that stuff here. Some is extremely racist… like me being called a peckerwood. That’s nowhere near as bad as some of the skin slurs, though.

There’s a great resource to check out if you really want an immersion into real cop-speak. It’s called with a section on cop slang. Here’s a bit of what I found on their site:

  • Duck — An obvious criminal. Like, if it looks, walks and talks like one…
  • Kit Whore — An officer who is adorned with the latest gadgets
  • Form 1 — Toilet paper
  • Lieutenant’s Exam — One of those paper toilet seat covers
  • Ham Sandwich — Unregistered firearm used to plant on suspect
  • Lawn Ornament — Drunk passed out face-down on the grass
  • Loser Juice — Hand sanitizer used to clean up after arresting a scrote
  • Scrote Soap — Same thing. Usually brand name Purell
  • Mayflower Equipment — Old and outdated supplies like the shot fridge
  • Polyester Pig Pile — Three or more uniformed officers making an arrest
  • Blue Rooster — Police equivalent of military “Green Weenie” (Google it)
  • Sergeant-In-The-Trunk — GPS fleet monitoring system
  • Rubber Gun Squad — On administration leave during an internal investigation
  • Street Degree — Hitting the 10-year service mark in operational policing

I love this cop-speak definition from

Methamphibians are in their own class. They may resemble humans in some way, shape or form, but they cold-blooded creatures with nocturnal habits. Their most common mode of transportation is a bicycle (usually stolen), pulling a homemade makeshift trailer fashioned from other stolen bike parts, shopping cart parts, baby strollers, and the like. Methamphibians normally stay awake for 3 to 5 days at a time, coming outside only at night to steal from humans, ingest (via snorting, slamming via a needle, eating, drinking or smoking) methamphetamine. After the 3-5 day cycle, they sleep for 2-3 days.”

I also love the Aqua Pig Award. It’s given to an officer who falls in the water while wearing a uniform with full gear attached including a force-issued IPhone 10 and a two thousand dollar encrypted radio. The award is usually handed out at Choir Practice.

So that’s the end of this shift. I’m going sign the form, pull the pin and head out to pasture with a rusty gun. What about you Kill Zoners? What cool cop-speaking terms can you add?

*   *   *

Garry Rodgers is a retired homicide detective from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) who went on to a second career as “Doctor Death” doing forensic investigations with the British Columbia Coroners Service. Now, Garry is a crime writer and a successful indie author with a popular blog at

Check out On The Floor — a new release as Book 5 in the Based-On-True-Crime Series by Garry Rodgers. “Savage… Shocking… Senseless… Who would order two seniors to lie on the floor of their gun store, then cold-bloodedly execute these defenseless people with gunshots to the back of their heads?”

On The Floor is available on Amazon, Nook and Kobo as EBooks. Print and audio forthcoming when the budget allows them.

A Day in the Life of a Detective

Most people think a detective’s life is action-packed. You know—the shoot-‘em-up and kick-‘em-down thing. That happens from time to time, but a typical day in the life of a detective involves major case management, amassing admissible evidence in serious crime investigations and a lot of networking. It’s not that exciting.

For my debut post on The Kill Zone, I thought I’d give you a look at what really goes on behind the screen in the detective world. It’s not like you see in CSI shows and Netflix specials. Most detective work has long periods of painstaking procedure with only short spurts of adrenaline.

I liked it that way. I spent a career with Canada’s national police force, the RCMP, where I served as an investigator with the Serious Crimes Section. We mostly dealt with homicide cases because murders take a lot of time and you can’t mess one up. That’s a sure-fire way to end up writing traffic tickets.

I looked back in my notebooks and picked a particular day that was somewhat routine but had enough going on to interest you. It was a Thursday in the summertime. I was on dayshift in a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, and my schedule was 8 am to 4:30 pm.

I got into the office just after 7. With coffee in hand, I checked our internal email server to see what floated in since last shift. For a change, not much was there. I opened Outlook, and then set priorities for the day. Those were four squares of “Must-Do”, “Should-Do”, “Might-Do” and “It Don’t Matter”. I learned this organizational technique from a Franklin Day Planner my daughter gave me for Christmas.

The system works. This day, my top priority was furthering a recent death case where we’d found a decomposing body dumped down a wooded bank beside a rural road. It turned out to be the most bizarre and baffling homicide case of my career.

The corpse looked like a zebra-zombie with a wild-looking stripe pattern across his bare torso. Gaps in the trees allowed a part-on-part-off sun scorch which left him partly mummified and partly putrefied like an ebony and ivory piano key of human breakdown. The autopsy showed he was gut-shot, but that wasn’t the end of the story.

At 7:45, Harry showed up at the Serious Crimes office. It looked like she was hungover. It was hard to tell with my partner, Harry. Harry was a large lady with large hair and an even larger personality. Her real name was Sheryl Henderson, but we called her Harry after the Bigfoot in the movie Harry and the Hendersons.

Our squad consisted of four teams of two detectives each. Because two heads are better than one (most of the time), we found pairing was the best way to investigate complicated cases like murders, attempted murders, rapes, armed robberies and the occasional kidnapping or extortion that happened in the drug world. Pairing is also safer when we’re on the street, and it’s more credible when we’re in court.

This morning, Harry “had court”. That was the universal cop-term for being subpoenaed as a witness. It meant having to hang around the courthouse and wait to see if we’d be called to testify. Or not.

There was a lot, and I mean a lot, of time wasted at the courthouse. But, they were the end to our means, and what we delivered as evidence packages suffered tremendous scrutiny. There’s nothing worse than being “on the stand” and having to explain why you messed up.

Back to the day.

I was on my own, doing follow-ups on our man from beside the road. Harry got her lies straight, and she left to meet the prosecutor. Once she was out the door, I took-on my top priority. That was trying to figure out who the hell this dead and rotting guy was. From that, I hoped to solve what happened to him.

Brian MacAllister beat me to the phone call. Brian was the senior firearms examiner at our crime lab. He was also a good friend outside of work.

“This one’s weird.” I knew Brian was shaking his head. “That twenty-two bullet from your guy beside the road? There’s no rifling or striation marks on it. Like it was never fired… like he swallowed the damn thing.”

“Serious?” I’d seen the bullet when the pathologist plucked it from the viscera. I looked at it with my naked eye and, yeah, it seemed smooth as a baby’s butt. But, then, I couldn’t see what Brian could see with his scanning electron microscope.

“Never seen this before.” Brian paused. “I’m thinking a slick bore like an antique dueling pistol. Or, it could be the tip of things to come. A Three-D laser-printed pistol downloaded from the dark web.”

“Any chance of making a match?” I sensed Brian was perplexed, but he was a competent expert and knew his stuff.

“Hmmm… dunno. We rely on rifling and engraving. None here. Might have to get Chemistry Section involved and do bullet-lead composition analysis or neutron activation. Leave it with me.”

I got off the phone and took another call. This was from Honey Phelps, our coroner. Love that name, Honey. She fit the part.

Honey updated me on our entomology evidence where we used insect remains to establish an estimated time of death. She said the forensic entomologist, who we privately called “The Bug Bitch”, gave a two-week period. Seems our mystery man lay stinking beside the road for around 14 days before we found him.

My next stop was down the hall to the Forensic Identification Section. At the autopsy, the pathologist clipped each finger and thumb tip from the cadaver and placed them in individual vials of formalin. The idea was to turn what was left of the skin into a malleable or rubbery substance to raise fingerprint detail.

Sergeant Cheryl Hunter was my go-to in the CSI department. Cheryl dashed my hopes of anytime soon by telling me she needed more time finger-fixing before she could try for an ID. In the meantime, I was stuck with not knowing who this John Doe was.

I got another call. It was our Street Crew team, and they wanted to talk to me. I met them in their hovel of a basement office.

For some reason, lots of cops get nicknames. My boss was “Leaky” Lewis, and he earned that handle from chronic post-urinary drip. The Street Crew pair were “Beefcake” and “The Inseminator”. Beefcake looked like Fabio from Harlequin Romance covers and The Inseminator was a weasely little sex addict.

Beefcake did the talking. “We got intel that a hooker beaked to a John that she knows your dead guy. Problem, though. We don’t know who the hooker is. Just that she goes by the trick name Amber.”

I felt a rush. This was the first time since we found Beside The Road that anyone on the street talked. Up till now, there was zero—zilch—nuttin’—being said. That made the case more peculiar.

Beefcake said they’d dig into this. The Inseminator vigorously nodded. I had no doubt they would. In the meantime, I went back to my office and found mail on my desk.

One letter was from the Federal Justice Department. They had a wrongful conviction application from an inmate who now decided he didn’t do it. I looked at the name. Yeah. Yeah. He spouts off in a motel room to a couple hippie chicks and confesses to a murder including giving out key-fact or holdback evidence that only the killer and the investigators know. I’ll get to this when I get to it.

The other letter deserved attention. This was from the National Parole Board who needed victim impact statements from the family of a murder victim. The case happened before my time, but I sure knew about it. So did pretty much everyone. Twenty-five years had passed, and the animal wanted loose from its cage. I moved this to Box-B.

I was about to tap into the CPIC database. That was the Canadian Police Information Center, and it held a lot of mineable stuff to help identify my latest murder victim. The phone toned again.

It was a reporter from Global television who I had an on-and-off-again relationship with. Professionally, I mean, although she was a knockout brunette with teeth that should be licensed. J’Anna had a tip for me. A viewer called-in about Beside The Road, and it sounded good.

The murder victim was a carnie, the tipster said. He was a carnival worker who disappeared from the traveling circus right when The Bug Bitch estimated time of death. J’Anna gave me the name. I plugged it into CPIC. Everything fit. All I needed now was some prints, so I ordered them.

It was noon.

I met a dear friend for lunch. Sharlene Bate outranked me, but I’d known her since she was a gangly teen with a pimple problem. Now, she was Inspector Bate from the regional force called I-HIT, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

I don’t know if I have a thing for women with great teeth, but in a dental war, Sharlene and J’Anna would have fought to the death. Sharlene, though, had a common mentor with me—Detective Sergeant Fred Mahle—who gave her the nickname “Chicklets”. Good old Fred…

Sharlene and I talked a bit of shop. Some included who topped the upcoming promotion and transfer list. Mostly, though, we talked about her daughter—our God-daughter’s—medical problem and Sharlene’s postponed re-marriage plans.

I got back to the office around 1:30. There was a note on my desk to call the Emergency Response Team leader. ERT is a secondary duty secondment for some police officers, and I was part of that alumni. I was too old now to dress up and play army, but I still helped in training programs.

Another secondment was lecturing at the Police College. I had a specialty in effective interviewing techniques and often resourced in seminars to share skills with other investigators. There was an email confirming a lecture date for the fall, and I banged out a quick reply.

I moved off Beside The Road’s file for the day. It’d be nice to carry one file at a time, but reality in the detective business is each investigative team has around twenty open dossiers. Some require urgent action, like figuring out Beside The Road. Some were solved cases pending in court. Then, there were cold cases that still needed “Diary Date” entries to keep them from freezing right over.

I spent the afternoon on Box B and Box C, then called ‘er quits. It was 4:45 pm. I phoned my wife, got dinner directions and stopped at Thrifty Foods for supplies. At 5:30, I parked my unmarked Explorer in our driveway, went through the garage, put my Sig Sauer in the laundry room locker and walked into the kitchen.

My wife was at the table, playing Words With Friends on her iPad. I gave her a kiss, heard about the crazy day at her work and we had small-chat about our grown-up & gone kids.

Then, I reached into an upper cabinet, pulled down a bottle and poured two fingers of Scotch over frozen rocks. She sipped her glass of white wine as we sat in a relaxed, pre-dinner silence.


Garry Rodgers is a retired homicide detective with a second career as a forensic coroner. Now he’s a crime writer and host of a popular blog at as well as being a regular contributor to the HuffPost.

Garry lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia at Canada’s southwest coast where he spends off-time cruising around the saltwater. Connect with Garry on Twitter and Facebook.