Cop-ronyms: Say…WHAT?


I know, talking shop with cops can be confusing. So here’s a handy Cop-To-English guide for writers.

  • AKA – Also Known As
  • APB -All Points Bulletin. STOP using this one. It went out with the T-Rex, sometime around the time when Betty White was born.
  • ATL – Attempt to Locate. “ATL for Betty White’s birth certificate was negative. No paper back then.”
  • B&E – Break and Enter
  • BOLO – Be On The Lookout – Replaced APB the day Betty White first walked among the dinosuars.
  • Civies – Non-uniform clothing, such as jeans and t-shirt, a coat and tie and, well, anything other than a police uniform.
  • CHP – California Highway Patrol (No, they aren’t called CHIPS. You watch too much classic TV. The locals say C.H.P., as in, “Did you notify C.H.P.?”).
  • DB – Dead Body
  • DL – Drivers License
  • DOA – Dead on Arrival (Not to be confused with the idea of a season 9 of Castle).
  • DOB – Date of Birth. “What’s Betty White’s DOB? Give me a hint. Are the numbers followed by BC or AD?”
  • DOC – Department of Corrections
  • DOJ – Department of Justice
  • DV – Domestic Violence
  • DIP – Drunk in Public. “I aressted Betty White for DIP. Yeah, Mary Tyler Moore called it in. Said she was swinging from the chandelier.”
  • EC – Emergency Contact. “Yes, the boat is sinking and the animals are bailing out. Who’s the EC, Betty White, or Noah?
  • FTA – Failure to Appear (in court)
  • FTO – Field Training Officer
  • GSW – Gunshot Wound (for more on gunshot wounds go here).
  • HBO – Handled by Officer (There is no reference to Showtime, sorry).
  • HP – Highway Patrol
  • KA – Known Associate
  • MDT – Mobile Date Terminal – In-car computer
  • MUTT – A shady bad guy. “Did you see the mutt hanging out behind the Pebbly Wiggly? I’ll bet he’s going to hit it tonight. Let’s go have a chat with him.”
  • Narc – Officer working a narcotics assignment. “Looks like heroin. Call the narcs and see if they want to talk to this guy.”
  • NCIC – National Crime Information Center. “I think he stole the boat. Run it through NCIC and let’s see what comes back.”
  • NOK – Next of Kin. “Who’s…never mind. Betty White has no living relatives.”
  • OL – Operators License (AKA = Drivers License)
  • PC – Probable Cause


  • PD – Police Department
  • POV – Privately Owned Vehicle. “Yes, I checked. The brontosaurus actually IS Betty White’s POV.”
  • Social – Social Security Number. Yep, hers is…1.
  • Station – Police Department
  • Unauthorized Use – Using/driving/borrowing a vehicle without permission. A charge that’s typically associated with someone who took a vehicle but knows the owner and would most likely bring it back. The probability of bringing it back is what separates this violation from it’s cousin…THEFT.

In Virginia, unauthorized use also extends to aircraft, boats, and even animals. Therefore, if you plan travel to Richmond for the purpose of borrowing someone’s $300 chicken, well, you should consider doing your poultry-borrowing in a different state. The Richmond city jail is no joke.

§ 18.2-102Unauthorized use of animal, aircraft, vehicle or boat; consent; accessories or accomplices.

Any person who shall take, drive or use any animal, aircraft, vehicle, boat or vessel, not his own, without the consent of the owner thereof and in the absence of the owner, and with intent temporarily to deprive the owner thereof of his possession thereof, without intent to steal the same, shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony; provided, however, that if the value of such animal, aircraft, vehicle, boat or vessel shall be less than $200, such person shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The consent of the owner of an animal, aircraft, vehicle, boat or vessel to its taking, driving or using shall not in any case be presumed or implied because of such owner’s consent on a previous occasion to the taking, driving or using of such animal, aircraft, vehicle, boat or vessel by the same or a different person. Any person who assists in, or is a party or accessory to, or an accomplice in, any such unauthorized taking, driving or using shall be subject to the same punishment as if he were the principal offender.
  • UNSUB – Unidentified Subject/Suspect
  • UTL – Unable to Locate
  • VIN – Vehicle Identification Number. VIN’s are located in a few places throughout a vehicle. The one most obvious is on the driver’s side where the windshield meets the dashboard, in front of the steering wheel. Other locations may include the front of the engine block (you should be able to see the plate by opening the hood and having a peek among all the goodies packed in there), front of the car frame, and inside the driver’s door jamb.
  • WMI – World-Make Identifier – The first three characters of a VIN number that tell us the where the vehicle was assembled, manufacturer, and make (Ford, Chevrolet, etc.). The characters that follow provide more details about the vehicle such as engine size, safety features, and more.

To help you better understand VIN numbers, here’s a brief video.

*Remember, as always, terms, slang, procedure, etc. may vary from one location to another. And, the above could have different meanings in other lines of work, other agencies, etc. These, however, are related to law enforcement. Still, no matter where you go, Betty White is a hoot…