The APCO phonetic alphabet , a. It is the "over the air" communication used for properly understanding a broadcast of letters in the form of easily understood words. Despite often being called a "phonetic alphabet", it is not a phonetic alphabet for transcribing phonetics. The APCO first suggested that its Procedure and Signals Committee work out a system for a "standard set of words representing the alphabet should be used by all stations" in its April newsletter. The list was based on the results of questionnaires sent out by the Procedures Committee to all zone and interzone police radio stations. The questionnaire solicited suggestions, but also included the existing Western Union and Bell Telephone word lists, plus another list then in general use by a number of police stations.
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Make PoliceOne your homepage. Working with the limitations of radio for interagency cooperation. Phonetic alphabets are meant for radio users to be able to pronounce and understand strings of letters and numbers regardless of signal quality. The police alphabet, unique to American officers, is even more succinct than the military code and useful for communicating information like names and license plates clearly over radio.
Even after the NATO alphabet came into use, local and state police departments continued to use the APCO police alphabet to transmit information such as license plate numbers over the radio. In fact, the police alphabet may be even shorter and punchier than its military counterpart.
For example, officers save some extra syllables when they say: Frank instead of Foxtrot Ida instead of India Nora instead of November Queen instead of Quebec. Today, departments as far away as Houston and New York have adopted a form of the APCO alphabet, albeit with a few minor variations between them. Some areas share scanner traffic between agencies, which means that multiple units are listening in at any given time.
Police departments use a mixture of plain English, 10 codes and the phonetic alphabet in order to keep radio communication as brief as possible. Police codes are meant to be similar enough that officers who transfer positions across the country will be able to understand them.
Of course, there are some differences between departments. But the other form of police communications, codes , are a different beast altogether. The problem with having a nonstandard radio code system is that responding to large-scale events like natural disasters or mass-shootings requires teamwork between several agencies. During these incidents, police must be able to communicate clearly with dispatch, fire and EMS while eliminating as much confusion and radio chatter as possible.
In the spirit of interagency cooperation, police departments have begun phasing out codes over the past decade. More PoliceOne Articles. More Communications News. More Product Listings. More Product news. More Communications Videos. Make PoliceOne your homepage Open the tools menu in your browser.
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Opinion: Why use-of-force training is failing police officers. What will investigators look for in the death of George Floyd? Topics Communications. Email Print Comment. By PoliceOne Staff Phonetic alphabets are meant for radio users to be able to pronounce and understand strings of letters and numbers regardless of signal quality.
For example, officers save some extra syllables when they say: Frank instead of Foxtrot Ida instead of India Nora instead of November Queen instead of Quebec Today, departments as far away as Houston and New York have adopted a form of the APCO alphabet, albeit with a few minor variations between them. Why use the police alphabet?
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APCO radiotelephony spelling alphabet
The police alphabet: an important ‘language’ for LEOs