Radio Procedures - In the beginning..

Once police patrol cars were fitted with radio, a new "language" quickly developed among the front line staff. In the early days radios were less than foolproof, and poor reception, noise and interference were the rule rather than the exception. Radio procedures, abbreviations, and jargon to reduce the chances of mistakes, and increse the understandability of the messages were essential.


During the fifties and sixties, many of the older police officers had served in the armed forces and had been exposed to the need for diciplined communications. As a result, much of the Police radio procedure was based on military practice. However, the unique nature of police work meant that many completely new phrases were developed.

As time has passed and policing and communication systems have changed, so to has the radio "language" of the cop on the street.


Here are a few old phrases and procedures from the early days:

"COR" = Criminal Offence Report. - A long obsolete form filled in by police attending any crime. - Used to tell the dipatcher that the form had been filled in.

"NFPA" = No Further Police Action - Covers a multitude of situations where just being there is sufficient.

"Teleinfo" - A request for a teleprinter message to be sent to the Motor Registration centre in Palmerston North to check the owner details for a car registration plate. The reply could take several hours to return, unless you requested an "Urgent Teleinfo" which would take up to 30 minutes.

"Cenmotor" - Central register of Motor vehciles - the place that "Teleinfos" were sent to.

"MO Check" - request for a criminal history check. Criminal Histories were recorded on index cards held in the "MO" (Modus Operandi) section of main police stations. In Auckland, a request for an "MO Check" would result in the dispatcher pressing a button which sounded a buzzer in the basement archives of the station, and a few momnets later the MO operator would come on the air and do a manual check of the card index. One particular MO operator had a very distinctive drawl and was renowned for his "MO to Caaaaar caaaaalling" response. Eventually MO were given their own channel in Auckland (channel 6) to avoid congestion on the main channel.

You from Me or Me to You - In the early days, the standard technique for calling another person on the radio was to give your own callsign first and then the callsign of the person you wanted to talk to - eg "Central to Balmoral I". At some time in the mid 1970's this process was changed to the procedure used by most other radio services ie the other way round - "Balmoral I from Central". For many years afterwards, (and even occasionally today), it was possible to identify the "old timers" who were unable to get their heads round this change.