State and local police departments across California have developed what has become known as the “LAPD Radio Alphabet,” named after the Los Angeles Police Department’s spelling method of radio communication. More informally, this has become known as the police alphabet and has been picked up by police forces throughout the US.

Like the Phonetic Alphabet developed by the ICAO, the LAPD Radio Alphabet replaces letters in a message with names and words, in order to ensure accuracy in understanding. For example, to report a vehicle’s license plate which read “KBX788,” an officer would say, “King, Boy, Robert, Seven, Eight, Eight.”

Some differing versions of the LAPD Radio Alphabet include “Yellow” or “Yesterday” for the letter Y, “Nancy” for the letter N, “Easy” for the letter E, and “Baker” or “Bravo” for the letter B.

In Pop Culture

Such popular TV shows as CHiPS, Starsky & Hutch, and the Wheel of Fortune, have featured versions of the LAPD Radio Alphabet, thus making its unique code words familiar to the American public.

LetterCode Word
AAdam
BBoy
CCharles
DDavid
EEdward
FFrank
GGeorge
HHenry
IIda
JJohn
KKing
LLincoln
MMary
NNora
OOcean
PPaul
QQueen
RRobert
SSam
TTom
UUnion
VVictor
WWilliam
XX-Ray
YYoung
ZZebra