Books, Gallows Humor (Cop Humor), Police Life

Cop Acronyms, Slang, and Jargon

I appreciate that not everyone who reads crime books are always familiar with the Acronyms and Slang that regular cops use. So, I’ve put together this handy guide to help explain what things mean.


AAA – With Guns: slang for highway patrol; synonym for ‘Taillight Chaser’

Adam Henry – asshole

A-Pillar – the vertical, normally-diagonal structures on either side of a vehicle’s windshield that connect the front quarter panels to the roof


Badge Bunny – civilians abnormally attracted to cops and, usually, ANY other uniformed personnel

Bang Out – common police announcement, usually over the radio during a high-risk/low-frequency operation, to announce a flashbang or diversionary device will imminently detonate

Bang Switch – trigger

B.D.U. – Battle Dress Uniform: military uniforms traditionally worn for combat; often adopted and worn by police SWAT personnel

Big House – slang for prison

Blue Canary – fire fighter slang for ‘cops;’ derived from underground miners’ historic use of caged canaries to monitor air quality in their confined space (if the bird passed out or died, they headed back to the surface) along with cops’ propensity to head into HazMat scenes without the training or equipment to do so

BOB – acronym for ‘Burglar On Bike,’ usually rides a stolen bike, wears a backpack, and carries burglary tools and assorted stolen property while searching for additional property to steal

Booger Hook – finger, usually the index

B-Pillar – the vertical structure of a vehicle between the front and rear passenger compartments; the driver’s seatbelt hangs from one of the vehicle’s two B-pillars

B.R.T. – acronym for the pride of the fire department, the ‘Big Red Truck’


Case Law – decisions made by judges of various local, state, and federal courts that effectively interpret how officers and prosecutors may practically abide by theoretical law and statute; example, the judges’ decision in Arizona vs Miranda, a 1968 case, mandated that officers must advise in-custody suspects of their Constitutional rights related to the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments before asking them incriminating questions

Center Mass – the upper middle of a human torso, the primary targeting area for law enforcement firearm engagement

Cho-Mo (choe-moe) – a pedophile, a short version of ‘Child Molester’ understood by cops and criminals in much of the American West

CHUD – acronym for lowlife transients, a ‘Citizen Having Urban Difficulties’

Clear-And-List – the process by which officers and dispatchers request information from various law enforcement databases to ensure an individual is ‘clear’ or warrants and ‘list’ their personal identifying information like physical description and home address

Code-4 – term for ‘All’s Well’

Controlled Delivery – police tactic that usually targets illicit drug buyers in which cops intentionally deliver the desired product or contraband, but do so while surveilling and controlling the environment and transaction, arrest the suspects, and recover the delivered evidence

Copenhagen – popular brand of chewing tobacco

County – usually short for ‘county jail,’ as sheriff’s offices typically have responsibility for detention facilities

C-Pillar – the vertical, normally-diagonal structures on either side of the rear windshield glass that connect the rear quarter panels and trunk to the roof


D.A. – acronym for ‘District Attorney,’ a state or county prosecutor responsible for filing and pursuing criminal cases

Debrief – used as both a noun and verb to describe an after-action assessment of our decisions, overall strategy, specific tactics, and resource deployment; intended to allow cops to take account for mistakes, celebrate victories and successes, and learn from mistakes or inferior strategy and tactics.

D.O.A. – acronym for ‘Dead On Arrival,’ normally used by medical staff to identify a patient’s status at time of admission to the Emergency Department

Drop a Dime – slang for informing to the cops, derived from old pay-phone rates; synonymous for ‘dimed [him] out’

D.R.T. – acronym for ‘Dead Right There,’ a common answer to inquiries about the location of a body that didn’t live long enough to warrant an ambulance ride


E.O.D. – Explosive Ordinance Disposal: a specially-trained unit, typically in the military, responsible for resolving bomb-related incidents; the analogous law enforcement unit is normally referred to as the ‘Bomb Squad’

E.O.D. Specialist – military personnel specially trained to serve in EOD Units; in the US Army, their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) is classified as ’89-Delta’

Ethylmethyl Bad Shit – slang for every hazardous material patrol cops don’t understand, can’t pronounce, and don’t want to deal with

Eye – jargon normally used to describe the narcotics or SWAT personnel assigned to maintain constant watch of a ‘target;’ for example, a lazy sergeant might leave the area to go buy cigarettes because the junior investigator ‘has the eye’


Felony Forest – slang for common narcotics trafficker practice of hanging far too many ‘scented trees’ from their rearview mirror

F.N.G. – acronym for ‘Fucking New Guy;’ the rookie, the greenhorn, the newbie


Gen-Pop – short for ‘general population,’ where the bulk of prisoners are held; also, a convicted pedophile’s worst nightmare, as they exist at the bottom of the food chain there

Goat Rodeo – slang for a mandated task that constitutes nothing more than a waste of time, usually dictated by administrators; also called a ‘Goat Rope’

Godspeed – expression of well wishes from Middle English, meaning ‘May God ensure your success’


HazMat – abbreviation for ‘Hazardous Materials,’ which generally includes chemical, biological, radiation, and nuclear hazards

High-Ready – police term for body position in which a cop holds their firearm extended out in front of them with the muzzle pointed at the approximate horizon, or near a suspect’s feet; by design and intent, allows the officer to quickly respond to already-identified threats

H.O.A. – Home Owner’s Association: group of associated property owners that works to address and resolve neighborhood issues, often governed by a civil contract or charter

Hose Dragger – slang for unpopular fire fighters, usually in relation to those with a ‘Mongo Smash’ outlook on the world around them; also, used in jest with the hose draggers who should’ve been cops

H.U.A. – acronym for ‘head up ass,’ a mental condition that can afflict anyone, anywhere, anytime, and prevents clear, rational, and productive thought processes


Incarceritis – the sudden, acute, and debilitating illness that strikes most suspects only after they have run from the cops, fought with the cops, and have been handcuffed for transport to jail; many of its victims believe uttering a laundry list of irrational, unrelated, and unsubstantiated symptoms will ensure they get an ambulance ride rather than a booking into County.


Jail Purse – any orifice that will temporarily hold one’s valuables for transport into a prison or jail facility; synonym: ‘Prison Wallet’

J.T.T.F. – Joint Terrorism Task Force: a multiagency group comprised of various specially-trained cops and civilian support staff that collectively seek to investigate only terrorism-related crimes, suspects, and organizations


Ka-Bar – jargon for a large, fixed blade utility knife commonly issued to military personnel; derived from the manufacturer’s name


Lipper – slang for a typically-large pinch of chewing tobacco placed between the cheek and gums

Low-ready – police term for body position in which a cop holds their firearm pulled in to their chest with the muzzle pointed at the ground close in front of them; by design and intent, allows the officer to search an area for threats and quickly respond to them if necessary


M.D.T. – Mobile Data Terminal: the cop computer in the cop car

MUPPET – acronym for ‘Most Useless Police Person Ever Trained’

MURP – acronym for the stolen shopping cart many transients use for storage, a ‘Mobile Urban Recycling Platform’

Murphy – the mythical asshole who alternately chooses to Bless and Punish cops without apparent cause, rationale, or justification; solely responsible for ‘Murphy’s Laws,’ such as ‘No good deed goes unpunished.’

My Friday – slang for the odd, last workday of a patrol cop’s workweek; usually Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday


Narc – detective assigned to a narcotics unit

N.C.O. – Non-Commissioned Officer: personnel in the US Army with any grade of Corporal, Sergeant, or Warrant Officer rank


Organ Donor – slang for motorcyclists who ride recklessly or without helmets

Oxygen Thief – slang for an individual who contributes nothing to society and, therefore, should be charged with stealing oxygen from the rest of us


Patrol Beat – also simply called a ‘beat’ or ‘district,’ the boundaries of which define a specific area for which a specific patrol cop(s) is primarily responsible for policing

Pogue – slang for non-hackers, slugs, and leeches; originally a military term and synonymous with ‘fobbit’ and ‘poser’

Polyester Pile-up – lots of cops (typically in polyester uniforms) piled on top of a less-then-cooperative suspect; synonym for ‘Pig Pile’

P.T.T. – acronym for ‘Push To Talk’

Precinct – term for a police substation; also called a ‘Station House’

Prison Wallet – any orifice that will temporarily hold one’s valuables for transport into a prison or jail facility; synonym: ‘Jail Purse’


Q-Tip – the fluff of white hair just barely visible behind the steering wheel of a large sedan that is often found displaying license plates from the upper Midwest states; seen only in central Arizona in cooler months and largely extinct during summer


R.D.O. – acronym for ‘Regular Days Off;’ our abnormal weekend, since our Friday is normally your Monday

Round File – slang for throwing something away in the trash, such as “The D-A round filed your case, probably because you did a terrible job.”


Shaped Charge – a bomb specifically designed to propel the majority of its blast force in a specific direction, rather than in a general sphere emanating outward from the device

Shit Magnet – slang for individual, usually a cop, who either (A, negative connotation) has an abnormal tendency to attract problems or (B, positive connotation) an abnormal tendency to uncover significant crimes and apprehend criminals

Shit Sandwich – slang for a regrettable circumstance, assignment, or problem from which everyone will inevitably have to take a bite

Snowbird – Arizona’s winter visitors who hail from cold climates and spend four-to-six clogging Arizona roadways, restaurants, and grocers

Snuff film – underground porn in which one or more participants is shown brutally dying before the film ends

Soup Sandwich – slang for something that appears messy, such as a disheveled, unkempt officer who wears his uniform poorly or the gear that he doesn’t properly care for

S.O.S. – acronym for ‘Scrote On Scrote,’ and usually refers to mutual combat between two dirtbags

Squad – short for (A) an individual Patrol Unit, comprised of the number of officers and a supervisor required to serve a specific jurisdiction or beat area; (B) slang for a cop car

Straight Stick – baton, usually made of wood, that is a single straight piece, unlike a “night stick” or PR-24, which has a side handle

Sup – short for ‘supplemental report,’ which is written by officers involved in a case or scene who are not the assigned case officer; see also ‘the bane of police existence’

SWAT – acronym for ‘Special Weapons And Tactics,’ a highly trained group of cops that essentially act as America’s domestic Special Forces to address the majority of truly high-risk/low-frequency events


Taillight Chaser – slang for highway patrol; synonym for ‘AAA with Guns’

Target – the individual, residence, or location under police investigation; normally used in narcotics units and investigations

Task Force – a multiagency group comprised of various specially-trained cops and civilian support staff that collectively seek to investigate only certain crimes, such as narcotics, terrorism, or vehicle theft

The Yard – short for ‘prison yard,’ the caged recreational grounds in prisons

T.L.O. – Terrorism Liaison Officer: cop, usually a detective, assigned to partner with additional local or regional law enforcement agencies, task forces, and resources specifically related to counter all manner of terrorism

Tweeker – slang for a purveyor of tweet, a slang for methamphetamine

Tweeker’s Dozen – slang for ‘eleven,’ as the twelfth is missing and presumed stolen; derived from tweekers’ propensity for walking off with everything that isn’t adequately nailed down and supervised


Un-Ass – slang for removing oneself from a seated position, such as “You’d get more arrests if you’d un-ass yourself from the squad once in a while.”

Universal Key: slang for a hard kick, bolt cutters, door rams, Halligan tools, or anything capable of defeating all common physical security measures

U.S. A.D.A. – acronym for ‘United States Assistant District Attorney,’ a federal prosecutor responsible for filing and prosecuting charges in federal criminal cases


Voluntold – slang for mandated, but ‘voluntary,’ participation


Warrant Wagon – slang for a vehicle that is either sufficiently dilapidated or suspicious that its occupants  certainly have outstanding arrest warrants

Wood Shampoo – slang for striking a suspect in the head with a wooden baton


Yard – short for ‘prison yard,’ the caged recreation grounds at prisons


Zebra – slang for ‘an ass with stripes,’ and used in reference to a disliked sergeant or corporal

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