Police Glossary

Aided Case: A police call involving a sick or injured person.

Alky: An alcoholic.

Attitude Adjustment: To beat down a suspect for giving the police problems (see Tune Up, q.v.).

BCI: Bureau of Criminal Information; the place where fingerprints are checked against criminal records.

Bent: Dishonest, corrupted.

BOLO: An acronym meaning, “Be On the Look Out.”

Boss: Term for senior officers, from lieutenant (in certain units) to captain, deputy inspector, inspector and commissioner.

break one’s balls, to: To complain, scold, or nag as to provoke anger.

Bus: Ambulance.

busted: To be charged with a criminal defense.

Can, the: Prison, or jail.

CCRB: Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Central: Central Dispatch.

Collar: An arrest.

CSU: Crime Scene Unit.

Dee Wee: Phonetic for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated).

DOA: Traditionally means “dead on arrival”; here it’s used to refer to just about any dead person, murdered or otherwise.

DT: Street slang for a Detective.

EDP: Emotionally Disturbed Person, the politically-correct way to what was once referred as a “psycho”.

EMS: Emergency Medical Services, which technicians, often overworked, underpaid and unappreciated sometimes dub “Every Minute Sucks”.

ESU: Emergency Services Unit; the NYPD SWAT team.

FAT: NYPD’s Fugitive Apprehension Team.

Five-O: Street slang for police (obviously influenced by the recently-defunct TV cop show of the same name, which ran from 1968-1980).

Flying; to fly: Leaving the confines of one’s usual precinct in order to fill in for a shortage of manpower in another precinct or location.

Go Down, to: Getting arrested.

Good People: All-purpose NYPD compliment meaning ‘kosher’, nice, reliable, etc., irrespective of race, religion or sexual orientation.

Gun Run: Search for a weapon reported sighted in the hands of a “perp”.

Hit: Tactical assault on a criminal location.

Hoho-cide: Derogatory phrase referring to murder involving homosexuals.

House, The: Shorthand term for the stationhouse.

Hump: 1. Your ass; “He’s gotta bust my hump over this petty crap?”; 2. A moron; “That stupid hump scratched my car!”

IAB: Internal Affairs Bureau, the branch of the police that investigates other cops.

Ice: To kill someone.

Jacket: A criminal record, i.e., :Can’t anyone find the jacket on this guy?"

Job, the: Service in the NYPD, as in “I’ve been on the job five years.”

Juice: Influence; i.e., veteran cops like Sipowicz and Simone have lots of juice at other precincts when their friends get in trouble.

Junkie: A drug addict.

Lawyering Up: A suspect’s decision to stop answering questions and ask for legal counsel.

Lieu, Loo, Lou: Affectionate slang for ‘lieutenant’

Mope: Unauthorized term for “perp”.

MOS: Member of the Service (police officer); used on the radio.

Mule: A person paid to cary drugs from one country to another.

Mutt: Unauthorized term for “perp”.

Narc: A narcotics officer.

NHI: Stands for “no humans involved.” A terribly pejorative term to refer to crime involving indigents, prostitutes, criminal-on-criminal crime, or other undesirables. The implication is that the the case is not worth the best efforts of the officers involved.

OC: Organized Crime.

One PP: One Police Plaza, NYPD Headquarters in downtown Manhattan.

On the arm: Something given to a police officer without charge as a courtesy.

Open Carrier: Police officer or vehicle with an open radio.

PAA: Principal Administrative Assistant; also Police Administrative Assistant.

Package: Escorted prisoner or VIP.

Paying the Rent: For police officers, the handing out of a certain number of traffic summonses and moving violations.

Pedigree: Identifying information regarding acitizen or a perp.

Perp: Perpetrator, criminal.

Post: The area covered by a police officer who is on foot rather than riding in a patrol car.

Pross: Short for prostitute.

Psycho: A mentally ill person.

Puzzle Palace: Police Officer’s term for One Police Plaza.

Rabbi: An individual’s guide and guardian angel in the department.

Rap Sheet: A criminal record.

Rat Squad: Officers and detectives assigned to Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB).

Reaching Out: Can mean anything from just contacting someone to trying to convince them to help the cops to seeing if they need help.

Red Menace: Unofficial term for members of the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), also known as “Rubbermen”, a term of affection and respect for those members.

Riding DA: The Assistant District Attorney assigned to a particular precinct. Unfortunately budget cuts have a single Riding DA covering multiple precincts.

Rip: Loss in pay due to a disciplinary infraction, such as unauthorized moonlighting.

RMP: Radio Mobile Patrol, the NYPD blue and white ‘sector’ car.

Rubbermen: A term of affection and respect for members of the FDNY.

Sector: Subdivision within a precinct, which covers several blocks. A sector car is assigned to patrol the area (see RMP above).

Shoofly: A snoop from Internal Affairs Bureau.

Skel: 1. Short-hand for “skeleton”; i.e., what most drug-users wind up looking like. A derogatory term used to describe low-life junkies. Also refers to homeless vagrants. 2. From the book “The City in Slang, New York Life and Popular S peech,” by Irving Lewis Allen (1993): The New York police today call the most vagrant of the male homeless skels. William Safire informs us that “it is a shortening of skellum meaning a rascal or thief, akin to a skelder, ‘to beg on the streets,’ first us ed in print by Ben Johnson in 1599, just after the playwright got out of jail for killing a man in a duel; it is possible he picked up the word from cellmate’s argot.” The word popped up about 1935 in the short form skell, suggesting that skellum/skell ha d underground oral use for centuries. Skell is now in popular speech to denote the homeless that are so visible throughout the city.

SNAG: Special Narcotics and Guns Unit.

SNEU: Special Narcotics Enforcement Unit.

SOD: Special Operations Division.

Squad: Short for ‘detective squad’, attached to the specific precinct.

Tag: A ticket.

TARU: Technical and Research Unit.

Tin or Shield: A police officer’s badge.

Tropicals: A light weight summer uniform.

Tune-Up: GTo beat down a suspect, usually during an arrest of interrogation.

Tunnel Rats: NYPD Transit Bureau (the subway cops).

Up/Catching: Baseball metaphors used to describe the system by which cases are assigned; e.g., O’Hinn caught that murder in Chelsea because he was up.

White Shirts: Term for lieutenants and above, who wear white uniform shirts.

Police Glossary

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