How Well Do You Know Law Enforcement Slang?

By: Deborah Beckwin
Estimated Completion Time
6 min
How Well Do You Know Law Enforcement Slang?
Image: Ariel Skelley/DigitalVision/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Law enforcement across the United States and across the globe have their own jargon and slang. 

Some of the language is derived from local and state penal codes, so they may not be relevant outside of the localities or municipalities where police officers work. But sometimes the words become more widely used in a region or throughout a country. For example, the California Penal Code for murder is 187, and through popular culture, it became a mainstream slang term.

Yet other slang terms are derived from the law enforcement officers themselves. (A lot of law enforcement slang is quite colorful, so you will not be seeing those words in this quiz.)

Beyond the slang, there's ten-codes used for communication on radios, as well as response codes which have the word "Code" with a number. And then there are the plethora of acronyms, which some of them you probably know: GTA (grand theft auto), DUI (driving under the influence), APB (all-points bulletin), DOA (dead on arrival) and DOC (Department of Corrections). But there are even more acronyms and terms used by law enforcement to test your knowledge on.

We hope you enjoy this trip through LEO slang and jargon. We promise you won't get pinched! Good luck!

If someone is acting "hinky," what does that mean?
The person is acting suspiciously or abnormally.
The person is crazy and unstable.
The person looks nauseated and may vomit.
The person look like they may pass out.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The origins for the word "hinky" are old, possibly from the old Scots word "hink," which means "to hobble or limp." Either way, it's a way to describe someone's unusual behavior that causes police officers' concern.

You've probably seen this sort of pursuit on a lot of cop shows, but never knew the slang term for it. What is "bailing in/bailing out"?
A robbery suspect fleeing a bank
A suspect is in a car chase
A suspect abandons their car and flees on foot
A suspect bails out of jail
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

"Bailing in/bailing out" may sound like a banking term, which it is. But for cops, it's when someone they're pursuing ditches their car and tries to run way on foot.

Police have a term for this activity that some people have to do on occasion—what is the "golden flow''?
Bring gold coins to the local precinct for bail
Take a urine test
Drink orange juice
Be at the police station by sunrise
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Another euphemism by law enforcement, "golden flow" refers to taking a urine test for drugs. This can be a random drug screen or a planned one.


If you're driving and see these in your rear view, you probably need to pull over. What are "berries & cherries"?
An ambulance
A fire truck
Someone tailgating you
The blue and red lights of a police car
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Although you should possibly pull over for a fire truck or an ambulance, it's not necessary if they don't have their flashing lights or aren't using their sirens. Sometimes, police cars only have their cherries (the red lights), but "berries & cherries" refers to the blue (berries) and red (cherries) lights on top of their patrol vehicles.

If you have a set of "jiggle keys", what do you have?
Keys or tools to pick a car ignition lock
An extra set of house keys
Keys for a sticky door in your home or at work
Keys to your partner's house
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

In the age of keyless ignition, "jiggle keys," also known as "master keys" or "jigglers," really have no use. But back in the 1980s and 1990s, getting keys made from fingernail files or creating shaved keys (grooves ground down, making the key look really thin) made it easier for car thieves to steal popular cars from car makers such as Saturn (RIP), Toyota and Honda.

In cop slang, what is a "California roll"?
A type of sushi
A rolling stop
Making a U-turn
When an SUV rolls over
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Also known as a "California stop," a "California roll" means you haven't come to a full and complete stop at a stop sign. This means your speedometer needs to be at zero. Although it's not entirely clear where this saying came from, one of the most common traffic violations is failing to stop at stop signs and red lights.


If you're going to a place with "three hots and a cot", where are you going?
A shelter
A hotel
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Cops have many euphemisms and sayings for jail or prison. Whether it's called "The Pokey," "The Cross Bar Hotel," "The Gray Bar Hotel" or "The Gray Door Hotel," it's a place where people who've been arrested go next.

Sometimes cops encounter some intense suspects. What does "vox" mean?
Someone who is extremely chatty
Someone who is violent and intoxicated
Someone who makes verbal threats against the police
Someone who is experiencing a seizure
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Officially, the term is "violent intox." It's one thing to be inebriated, but it's another if you get angry or violent, too. If someone is a "vox," a cop may need backup to handle this person.

If you're a cop, you're going to encounter your fair share of dirtbags. Who or what is a "dirtbag"?
Filthy bathrooms
Dirty houses
Bad guys
Dirty bags
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

There are plenty of other names for perpetrators, some of which we can't write here. But some other common names for the bad guys: "maggot," "scumbag," "mutt," "skell" and "hooftie."


This is a part of so many cop shows and movies—who or what is a "rabbit"?
A radar gun
A perp on the run
A speeder
A child
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The chase, the pursuit—it's a part of so many cop movies and shows. And who gives chase is the "rabbit"—the suspect or perp on the run from the police.

If you're given some "jewelry" by the police, what are you exactly being given?
A police baton
A taser
A police whistle
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

It's another euphemism from law enforcement officers. It's probably the only kind of jewelry you'll always want to avoid.

If a cop says someone is "in the wind", where are they?
They're running into oncoming traffic.
They're intoxicated.
They're mentally unstable.
They're gone/on the run.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

"In the wind" mainly applies to people who have an active warrant and will be arrested. Another term for this is GOA (gone on arrival).


Unfortunately, this is a common offense across the country, especially during the holidays. What is a "deuce"?
Failing to stop at a stop sign
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

"Deuce" (DUI is an acronym for driving under the influence) has its origins in California law enforcement agencies. A "super deuce" is known as a felony DUI. A "D-Dub" is a DWI (driving while intoxicated).

This is one common part of a cop's job—what is "knock and lock"?
Serve an arrest warrant, arrest suspect
Come to someone's home to talk
Knock on someone's door, and if it's open, lock it for them
Knock on the window of a driver and tell them to lock their car because of police activity in the area
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

This rhyming euphemism is one of the common activities cops have to do. "Knock" means going to someone's home and literally knocking on the door. "Lock" refers to locking someone up in jail.

As a cop, one may be walking into some dangerous situations. So what does "keepin' six" mean?
Making sure to get off at six p.m. every night
Keeping your hand on your gun
Watch your back
Working first shift
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

"Keepin' six" is for six o'clock. If you've ever heard people talk about looking at people or things at a certain position on the clock (e.g., suspect, 12 o'clock), then you know this is about where things are in relation to your body and its surroundings. Six o'clock refers to one's back, since that's where the hour hand would be in relation to one's body.


This "six pack" is different than the one you're used to, although it's an important part of police work.
Six police officers together to make an arrest
What cops drink off-duty
Six patrol cars
The photo lineup of six suspects
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

This "six pack" has nothing to do with drinking beers or someone's physical fitness. It's to help eyewitnesses or victims identify someone who has committed a crime.

If you have a "9 Mike Mike", what do you have?
A 9mm handgun
A megaphone
A PA system in your patrol car
Nine cops named Mike in your squad
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Another euphemism from cops, Nine Mike Mike comes from the NATO phonetic alphabet, where M stands for Mike. You can use Mike Mike for any weapon's caliber.

If you're an officer and get stuck with some "paper", what are you stuck with?
Writing a report
Confiscated money
Replacing the toilet paper at work
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

If you're "writing paper," then you're writing a report. "Paper" can also mean someone who is on parole or probation. Depending on the context, "paper" can mean different things.


We've all been guilty of doing this—who or what is a "looky loo"?
Someone gawking at an accident
A nosy, gossipy neighbor
Someone who listens to police scanners
Someone who stares down cops as they pass by
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Being a "looky loo" is so tempting as a driving because you want to know what's going on and see how bad the accident was. But it also means you're probably not looking where you're going and could cause another accident.

This slang term is also used by truckers—what is an "organ donor"?
A motorcyclist riding without a helmet
A motorist speeding
Someone driving too slowly
A pedestrian
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

This is one of the sardonic but honest slang terms about motorcyclists. Head injuries are one of the most common injuries that motorcyclists face while riding, especially without a helmet.

When someone is "tinning", what are they doing?
Parallel parking
Flashing their badge
Flashing their high-beams
Going golfing
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The "tin" is the badge, and tinning means flashing your badge. That could be when you're talking to a person of interest, a suspect or just someone you need to talk to. You can also "tin to get in," meaning you flash your badge at the door of a bar or club so you can get in for free.


This is something you don't want a police officer to do to you. What does "hang paper" mean?
To give a traffic citation or ticket
To arrest you
To serve a warrant
To flash lights at you
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

No one likes getting a ticket, for whatever reason. And the slang for this term is pretty straightforward, but it is very different from "paper hanging" or being a "paper hanger."

After a shift, cops tend to go to "choir practice". Do you know what choir practice is?
Actual choir practice for a police chorus
Going to a music venue
Heading home
Hanging out after work
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

"Choir practice" is based off of the famous cop novel "The Choirboys" by former cop Joseph Wambaugh. These days, "choir practice" just means hanging out while off-duty to decompress and have fun, whether it's at a bar or not.

If you're a cop and have to write a "Dear Chief" letter, what are you writing about?
You're putting in your resignation.
You're writing about an unfortunate situation you caused.
You're asking for a raise.
You're telling the chief all the things they're doing wrong.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The "Dear Chief" letter is definitely not a fun one to write. To explain what went on in a messy situation you carelessly caused is probably the last thing you want to do as a cop.


Cops have a number of names for rookies. What is a "blue flamer"?
A rookie who make a lot of mistakes
A rookie who gets fired in under a year
A rookie who gets promoted within a year
A rookie who is very eager to take answer radio calls
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A blue flamer can understandably be obnoxious or annoying. Their eagerness to do police work may be a bit over the top.

This has become a recent epidemic in the 2010s. What is "slamming"?
Using drugs intravenously
A new kind of stunt, similar to parkour
Slang for car theft
Another word for "dining and dashing"
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

As a slang word, "slamming" means a lot of different things outside of the law enforcement world. But "slamming" for cops means injecting drugs (such as heroin) via hypodermic needles.

LEOs often use the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has unique words for every letter of the English alphabet. So what does "1 Delta 10 Tango" mean?
ID not found
I'm directing traffic.
I don't think so.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

LEOs use a lot of colorful language in code—with acronyms and with the NATO phonetic alphabet. "1 Delta 10 Tango" has the numbers acting as vowels, with the 1s as the Is and the zero acting as the letter O.


We've all seen someone like this—who is a "sidewalk inspector"?
A meter maid
A patrol cop
Someone who has passed out face down
A traffic cop
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Many times, cops are dealing with drunk people of all sorts. "Sidewalk inspector" is a euphemism for someone who has passed out face down. It's similar to another slang term, "lawn ornament."

When two cops are "Mutt and Jeff", what's happening?
Arresting a suspect
Playing "good cop/bad cop" during an interrogation
Providing back-up on a stakeout
Another name for being partners
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The origins of "Mutt 'n' Jeff" go back to early 20th-century U.K., from a comic strip of the same name. It's also meant to talk about two people who are wildly different.

When a cop uses a "Kojak light", what are they using?
A lollipop
A kind of flashlight
Portable flashing light
Hazard lights
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Who loves you, baby? This flashing light is for unmarked cop cars, so when they need to pursue a suspect or get to some place fast, they throw up the "Kojak light." This was taken from the old cop show, "Kojak."


When police officers talk about a "Q-tip", what are they talking about?
The mouthpiece you blow into for a BAC test
An elderly female driver
What's used to swab crime scenes
A regular q-tip
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

As we age, we can begin to become shorter. And the term "Q-tip" takes that into account, because it's the image of only being able to see white hair from the rear of a vehicle, like a big cotton ball. And that's usually because elderly women are sitting low in their seats.

If you're a driver, you've probably seen this and didn't know. What is "FADAR"?
Finely tuned RADAR
Flying RADAR (aerial surveillance)
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

If you're speeding on the highway and see a cop with his radar gun out, you may or may not be getting scanned. But seeing a cop with a radar causes you to slow down, right? So then it becomes a deterrent for speeders.

In the world of cop slang, "paper" can mean different things. So what does "paper hanger" mean?
Someone who writes fraudulent checks
A person stuck on desk duty
A cop who writes up a lot of tickets and citations
A supervisor who often writes people up for small infractions
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The term "paper hanging" comes from the time period when a check clears—the float. So a paper hanger uses the float to write fraudulent checks and withdraw funds when they're made available—and then ditch the account once the bank realizes the checks are bad.


Sometimes, when dealing with suspects and perpetrators, stuff happens. What is a "homecoming bib"?
A baby's bib you buy at homecoming
Another name for a prison jumpsuit
What cops wear over their uniforms while eating
A garbage bag tied around the neck of someone who is drunk
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Dealing with intoxicated people can mean unintended contact with body fluids. So tying a garbage bag or biohazard bag around a drunk person's neck can keep one's patrol car (and the suspect) clean. This is the same idea behind a "backseat diaper," which is a garbage bag placed in the back seat of a patrol car just in case someone soils themselves.

Police officers are on the lookout for a lot of things. The term "stolo" refers to what?
Stolen vehicle
Stolen identity
Stolen loot
Stoli vodka
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

"Stolo" means "stolen car." This slang term seems to be used by those on the other side of the law, too. If you're "rollin' stolen," then you're driving a stolen car.

You Got:
Ariel Skelley/DigitalVision/Getty Images