Chicago Scanner Guide

User Manual: Pdf

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Getting Started with #ChicagoScanner
Authors: Dani H, Chicago-One News; Eric Tendian,
Editor: Eric Tendian,
With help from: RadioReference, CARMA Chicago, various Chicago journalists, other
scanner reporters
Welcome to the Chicago scanner community! We've prepared this guide to prepare you for participation in the
world of publically reporting Chicago’s public safety news in ways that allow for truthful, responsible news
reporting, while protecting the city’s emergency responders and dispatchers, protecting the victims and
informants, and ensuring that reporting breaking
news is done in a manner that does not cause public panic.
Each city public safety and emergency response agency has their own communications system and their own
methods & protocols for sharing information with each other. It's all done in real-time, on a priority and
immediate need basis. Learning these systems & protocols, understanding them, and understanding the
professional language used is necessary to report accurately.
Primarily, each department can generally be broken down into operations and administration. The responders
in the field are operations, they do
all the work. Administration (chain of command) gives the orders and
oversees all the work. While this is an over-simplification to some degree, it is an introductory understanding of
how vertical (top - down) organisations tend to work.
We will update this guide on an as-needed basis, and will have yearly updates for bulk addition / changes of
Chapter 1: Buying and Programming a Scanner 4
Buying 4
Programming 4
Chicago-area Frequency Databases/Lists 4
Scanner Manuals/Guides 4
Chapter 2: Chicago Police Department Lingo 6
Department Organization 6
Bureau of Patrol 6
District Command Organization Structure 7
Deciphering Radio Traffic by Watch 8
District Tactical, Citywide, and Detective Area Operations 9
Vocabulary 9
Callsigns 9
Codes 10
Technical Terms and Hashtags 13
Radio Channels 15
Radio Traffic 16
Assigning Jobs 16
Handling Jobs 17
Dealing with Violent Crime 17
Other Things to Listen For 18
Chapter 3: Chicago Fire Department Lingo 22
OEMC Assignments For CFD Units 23
Chapter 4: Other Department/Agency Lingo 24
Chapter 5: Ethically Reporting the Scanner 25
Code of Ethics 25
Report the truth 25
Minimize harm 25
Be accountable 26
Twitter Community 26
Monitoring Citywide 2 26
Information That May Interfere With Public Safety Operations or Active Investigations 28
#ChicagoScanner and #CrimeisDown “On-View” Reportage 28
Who is a Reporter and Who is a Journalist? 28
Chapter 6: Reporting Sensitive Calls & Calls With Special Circumstances 30
Calls and Reports Involving Racial, Religious, Ethnic, Sexual, and Gender Spectrum Minorities 30
Calls & Reports Involving Juveniles - Runaways, Abuse / Neglect, Mental Illness, Other Juvenile
Emergencies 31
School Shooting Responses 32
Appendix A: Additional Resources 33
Contacting Agency Spokespersons 33
Chicago Police Department 33
Chicago Fire Department 33
Cook County Medical Examiner 33
Mapping Tools 33
Scanner Recordings 33
Journalism 34
Appendix B: Addendum 35
Chapter 1: Buying and Programming a Scanner
So you want to listen to CPD or CFD dispatches? You'll need a scanner to do this. But not just any scanner -
we recommend getting a scanner with P25 digital decoding, as well as trunking capability, if you want to
ensure you can hear all the different conversations. At the least, the scanner should be able to show the
channel name, not just the frequency number. CPD uses conventional analog channels around 460MHz, while
CFD uses conventional digital channels around 477MHz. CPD also has a trunked system (Motorola) for
special units.
If you need help choosing a scanner, check out RadioReference's guide.
Once you have a scanner, you'll need to program it. We recommend using the RadioReference database for
Cook County and adding in frequencies for the following (see below). The Homepatrol scanners from Uniden
have a RadioReference database built-in, making programming extremely easy.
Chicago Police Department - Zones 1-13, Citywide 1-8
Chicago Fire Department - Fire Main+Englewood, EMS Main+Englewood, Citywide Fire, EMS
Command, Fireground
Chicago Transit Authority - All CTA lines, bus supervisors North+South
Aviation - Helicopter UNICOM, Fixed-Wing UNICOM
Chicago Media - As you see fit from this list.
CPD Trunked - If you're up for the challenge, add in the Chicago Public Safety and Services trunked
system as well.
STARCOM21 - ISP District Chicago, Metra PD, IEMA talkgroups, various other talkgroups depending
on your municipality
Chicago-area Frequency Databases/Lists
Note that some of these may be outdated. RadioReference is generally the most accurate source. The
organization that created these references still exists, however, they no longer update these files / references.
CARMA has been kind enough to keep them online as a reference and as a set of historical docs to show how
these systems once worked as technology and department practices change and advance.
Illinois Frequency Lists
CARMA Profiles
City of Chicago Communications Guide
CPD Radio and Unit ID Numbers (CPD has ensured that these identifiers cannot be subject to FOIA
requests by moving them to an internal department intranet)
Cook County, Illinois (IL) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference
Chicago Public Safety and Services Trunking System, Chicago, Illinois - Scanner Frequencies
CPD Radio ID list 03A
Scanner Manuals/Guides
Here are some additional resources to help get you acquainted with your scanner.
Easier to Read BCD396XT Digital Scanner Manual
How a SmartZone system works
RadioReference Manual List
Chapter 2: Chicago Police Department Lingo
Department Organization
The Chicago Police Department has the following organizational structure:
Office of the Superintendent
Refer to this directive:
For information on the Office of the First Deputy Superintendent:
Bureau of Patrol
Three areas, with multiple districts:
Area North: 011, 014, 015, 016, 017, 019, 020, 024, 025
Area Central: Districts 001, 002, 003, 008, 009, 010, 012, 018
Area South: Districts 004, 005, 006, 007, 022
For more information about the organization of the Bureau of Patrol, refer to this directive:
Bureau of Detectives
Refer to this directive:
Bureau of Organized Crime
Refer to this directive:
Bureau of Support Services
Refer to this directive:
Bureau of Internal Affairs
The Bureau of Internal Affairs investigates all allegations of misconduct against Department
members not conducted by the Independent Police Review Authority.
For more information on its role in misconduct allegations, refer to this directive:
Bureau of Patrol
The CPD Bureau of Patrol, like the CPD Detective Areas, are organized by “areas”. There are three areas -
North, South, and Central. Breaking the Department down into areas allows for better coordination, placement,
and tracking of Department resources. This also allows each area to do two things:
1. Track and act independently on their own area crime patterns and community crime issues.
2. Allocate resources and determine when a crime pattern / crime issue has crossed borders, necessitating
coordination of resources to continue the investigation of each pattern / issue.
Area North = Belmont/Western. This building used to house the 019th District, which is now located at Addison
St near Halsted St.
The Deputy Chief for Area North is Al Nagode, formerly the Area North Executive Officer
Area Central = 51st/Wentworth, in the 002nd District Station.
The Deputy Chief for Area Central is Kevin Ryan, former Executive Officer of Area Central
Area South = 700 E 111th, in the 005th District Station.
The Deputy Chief for Area South is Larry Watson
Each of the three areas has resources - Saturation Teams, Gang Teams, Detectives, etc. that can be deployed
across the area. Each area encompasses a list of districts where the area resources are focused on targeting
the highest priority problems first. Just as there is a priority system assigned to 911 calls, each area and each
district within the borders of an area also have a priority system.
Area South: Districts 004, 005, 006, 007, 022 - Detective Commander Rodney Blisset
Area Central: Districts 001, 002, 003, 008, 009, 010, 012, 018 - Detective Commander Brendan Deenihan
Area North: 011, 014, 015, 016, 017, 019, 020, 024, 025 - Detective Commander Kevin Duffin
The Chief for the Bureau of Patrol is Fred L. Waller
The Deputy Chief of Patrol is George Deveraux
The Chief of Detectives is Melissa Staples
See the Complete Chicago Police Department Citywide Organizational Chart here (PDF)
District Command Organization Structure
Districts Commander -----> Executive Officer (Captain) oversees a crew of mid-level police supervisors /
managers at the rank of Lieutenant. There can be between 4 to 6 LT’s. Most LT’s wear a uniform, and one
tactical lieutenant in plainclothes. Lieutenants are over Sergeants, who are the direct supervisors of police
The entire Chicago Police Department operates in shifts called “watches”: There are three watches. First watch
(nights, roughly 8:30p-5a for the shift Commanders) / 10:30PM to 7AM or so for Officers and Sgts., second
watch 7AM to 3:30PM (days) for officers and Sgts and third watch 3:30PM to 11PM or so for officers and
Deciphering Radio Traffic by Watch
As demonstrated above in the District Command Organization Structure, the Chicago Police Department is a
vertical organization. This means CPD is a top-heavy department wherein orders flow from the top to the rank
and file. Experienced journalists / reporters and veteran officers / detectives, and other CPD personnel know
when they hear a Deputy Chief or Captain bark an order into the radio, what the exact sequence of events will
be. This is EXTREMELY useful for journalists / reporters functioning on the street. You need to know where to
be and where not to be.
Let’s use the 11th District as an example:
The District Commander, or “DC”, is responsible for the entire district at all times. His radio call sign is 1100.
He will identify on the radio as "Eleven-hundred." District Captains answer to the DC, holding rank over
everyone in their district. He or she will identify over the radio as 1100X. "Eleven-hundred x-ray."
District Lieutenants will either be 1190 or 1199, depending on if they are on the street or performing work at
their district. 1199 would be the "Watch Commander". This term is no longer used, but gives a good, quick
explanation of their responsibilities. 1190 would be the street or field Lieutenant. The Field Lts use the callsign
1190 or 1199 on the air. 1199 has authority over the watch. 1190 has standing orders to defer to 1199 where a
decision needs to be made. 1190 has authority over street operations, 1199 has authority over the lockup, the
station, station security, arrests, activity, sets some policy for the watch, and so on. 1190 is usually the ranking
officer on a shooting scene at night (Incident Commander)..
Lieutenants hold authority over Sergeants. Sergeants supervise a number of police officers in the Patrol
Bureau, Sgts have responsibility for one sector of the district and are responsible for the officers assigned to
that sector. 1110 is responsible for the "ten sector" comprising beats 1111, 1112, 1113, 1114, 1115. 1120 is
responsible for the 20 sector comprising beats 1121, 1122, 1123, 1124, 1125. Each district has at least three
sectors though the number of beats vary by district.
1125 is, when not responding to radio calls, assigned to stay prioritized to the geographic area of beat 1125.
Beat integrity is not a hard and fast rule, though. In theory, a job that comes out on beat 1125, and as often
happens, is by policy to first be assigned to beat 1125.
Some beats within a district don't fall into the simple sector-beat numbering scheme. 1163 is a tactical
sergeant. 1160 is a tactical lieutenant. 1163a, 1163b, are all tact units.. The section C in the carma link above
(the PDF) does a good job of explaining district level personnel.
Letters on beats are often assigned a letter in the phonetic alphabet, especially district tactical, area detectives,
and citywide tactical units known as specialized units: Adam, Boy, Charlie, David, Edward, Frank, George,
Henry, Ida, Lincoln, etc.
First watch cars have the letter R assigned to their beat. They are identified as 1125R or "eleven-two-five -
robert." The tac cars would be 1163-adam, 1163-boy, etc. Tactical units don’t work assigned watches. They
scatter their start and end times to target specific crime concerns.
For more information about the organization of the Bureau of Patrol, refer to this directive:
District Tactical, Citywide, and Detective Area Operations
Every district has what are known on the air as “60” units. These are tactical units who wear street clothes and
are broken into teams such as robbery / burglary / theft, vice, gangs / guns / drugs, etc. As stated above, these
units do not have a set operating schedule, and vary their activity according to the district’s greatest needs,
and they target the DOC (Deployment Operations Center) or “hotspots”, of which any given district can have
more than one at any given time.
The district CAPS Office is part of the tactical team, targeting special community concerns. CAPS receives
information by conducting beat meetings, court advocacy (trained volunteer civilians that advocate for the
needs and rights of crime victims and the rights of the community by working with the victim, the state, and the
department), engaging community youth in the Police Explorer program, senior citizens by way of an assigned
senior citizen officer, targeting nuisance abatement issues such as abandoned buildings, working with Chicago
Public Schools by way of an assigned “school officer” (usually the district 05 or 07 car), and everything CAPS
finds out is shared with district tact, who also shares crime pattern information with area detectives and
citywide units.
Detectives work assigned, set watches, but also work overtime on complicated and high-profile cases.
Detectives work specialized missions in which their hours vary. Detective assignments within each Detective
Area go according to team: DGA (Detective General Crimes Assignment), HGS (Homicide, Gangs, Sex
Crimes) which was the old “VCU - Violent Crimes Unit”. RBT (Robbery, Burglary, Theft) which at one time was
the old “Property Crimes Unit”, the area Gun Team, Area Missing Persons, Area Bomb & Arson (also a
citywide unit), etc.
Detectives respond to crime scenes, interview involved parties which include witnesses and suspects / other
CPD personnel, gather evidence via the Evidence Technicians and their own visual inspection of scenes
followed-up by documentation, and they carry - out interviews / interrogations at their assigned Detective
Areas. In the CPD, felony charges MUST be approved by the Cook County States Atty - Felony Review Unit.
This process involves Detectives who have a victim and an offender. The offender is held at the Detective
Division, the Detectives then notify the felony review unit who responds to the Detective Area, and examines
the case for appropriateness of court proceedings. The Felony Review Unit will determine if any charges at all
are filed, and the seriousness of the charges. They make the final call, not CPD.
Citywide units operate from 35th & Michigan, Homan Square, Districts, and undocumented confidential
operations sites maintained by CPD and / or U.S. Federal Agencies as part of a joint Taskforce. Schedules for
Citywide units, no matter their specialty, usually vary. Though there are set watches, the core investigation
team works whatever hours are needed of them to conduct and complete their investigations. Larger
investigations are coordinated with Area Detectives, Districts, Taskforce units, etc.
Common or notable callsigns heard apart from the standard beat cars:
Car 3 - Superintendent
Car 4 - First Deputy Superintendent
Car 5 - Chief of Patrol
Car 6 - Deputy Superintendent of Patrol
Car 13 - possibly Deputy Chief of the Special Functions Division
Car 41-43
41=Area Central Deputy Chief
42=Area South Deputy Chief
43=Area North Deputy Chief
5800 units - Forensic Services (evidence technicians, crime lab) these units are under the command of
the area Detective Divisions and the Commander of Detectives.
7300 units - Public Transit Detail
M# units - Marine Unit
PH# - Police Helicopter 1 or 2
4600 units - SWAT team
4900 units - Mounted Unit
##00 - district commander
##00X - district executive officer
##01 - desk sergeant
##99 - watch commander
51xx - Area South Detectives (Area 1) (Unit 610)
52xx - Area Central Detectives (Area 2) (Unit 620)
53xx - Area North Detectives (Area 3) (Unit 630)
71xx - 73xx units Area 1 through Area 3 Special Victims Detectives. Special victims follows the *old unit
identification plan* for Detective assignments by area. 71xxs is Area North, 72xx is Area Central, 73xx
is Area South.
CPD Callsigns work like this: The first two numbers are the district number, the third number is the sector, the
last number is the beat. Example: 1721….. 17 is the district, 2 is the sector, 1 is the beat. 17th district, second
sector and first beat = 1721. Chicago has 22 districts. We used to have 25. Chicago used to have five detective
areas, we now have three. Some specialized teams have a letter in their callsign after the first two numbers.
For instance, 53G22A would be the area 3 (Area North) gun and gang team.
Hear a callsign/identifier not on this list? Try searching it on
To “code out” an incident, the officer gives a combination of a number and a letter, representing the incident
type and the police action taken. For example - 11-Frank, 19-Paul, etc.
Code #
Code Letter
Domestic Disturbance
A (Adam)
Not a bonafide incident
Teen Disturbance
B (Boy)
No person found
Drunk Disturbance
C (Charlie)
No such address
Noise Disturbance
D (David)
No police service necessary
Other Disturbance
E (Eddie)
Perpetrator gone on police arrival
Illegal Parking
F (Frank)
Peace restored
Sick Removal/Confinement
G (George)
Advised warrant
Injured Person
H (Henry)
Adv. to re-contact police if repeated
Person Down
I (Ida)
Transported to hospital or detox
Animal Bite
J (John)
Returned to home or family
Suspicious Person(s)/Auto
K (King)
Taken to district station
Calling for Help
L (Lincoln)
Information report submitted
Lost Person Found
M (Mary)
Issued traffic citation
Auto/Burglar/Holdup Alarm
N (Nora)
Issued ordinance complaint
O (Ocean)
Advised legal help
Fire Call
P (Paul)
Other police service
R (Robert)
Arrest made
Traffic Accident
S (Sam)
Supervisor referral to Alternate Response Section (311) -
used by supervisors only
Other Miscellaneous Incident
X (X-Ray)
Miscellaneous incident report
Y (Young)
Animal bite report
Z (Zebra)
Mental health related
OEMC Assignments For CPD Units
About UCR codes, from the City’s data portal:
“Illinois Uniform Crime Reporting (IUCR) codes are four digit codes that law enforcement agencies use to
classify criminal incidents when taking individual reports. These codes are also used to aggregate types of
cases for statistical purposes. In Illinois, the Illinois State Police establish IUCR codes, but the agencies can
add codes to suit their individual needs. The Chicago Police Department currently uses more than 350 IUCR
codes to classify criminal offenses, divided into “Index” and “Non-Index” offenses. Index offenses are the
offenses that are collected nationwide by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports
program to document crime trends over time (data released semi-annually), and include murder, criminal
sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault & battery, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Non-index
offenses are all other types of criminal incidents, including vandalism, weapons violations, public peace
violations, etc.”
Check this PDF for a full list of UCR codes (see “offense code”): They can also be searched on
RD numbers are unique to crimes and generated in order of occurrence. Each RD number hs a two letter
prefix specifying the year it was generated. For RD numbers generated in 2016, HZ (Henry Zebra) is the prefix,
followed by six numbers - for example, HZ249108. (2015) was HY. (2014): HX. 2017 brought us the JA (John
Adam) prefix.
Event Numbers are assigned to everything
! “Squad, gimme an event number for a robbery mission”, “Squad
gimme an event number for a personal”, “Hey squad, I need you to shoot me an event number for a Homeland
Security check of the Blue Line at Clark & Lake”’ll also hear OEMC tell units pulling an RD# to also
assign an event number to the report. Event numbers are tracking numbers that pin every officer’s or
detective’s activity to every job they perform throughout their watch. Event numbers look like this:
016017XXXXX, but you’ll only hear the last five digits given. The first three numbers indicate the year, followed
by the Day, Month, and then the five numbers you hear on the air.
Above is a Chicago OEMC assignment ticket. This is what dispatchers refer to on the air when they say “have
a ticket”, or “getting multiple tickets” on any given 911 call. This is given as a good illustration of what you’re
hearing when you’re listening.
Here’s how you read these tickets: From Date / From Time: this is the time the unit started the job, and the To
Date / To Time is the end time when the unit ended the job. This measures how long the unit spent working
that given assignment. Scheduler label is the OEMC Radio Console Assignment (Radio Dispatcher ID). This is
what police and dispatchers use when they address PDT messages to each other. The service location and
address of occurrence are listed because the two addresses can be different. It’s very common for a police unit
to be given a job, and find out the actual address of the job is different from what was originally assigned.
The “entry date” is the date the event number and job were assigned, which sometimes are not the same.This
particular ticket starts with an event number for a death that occurred and was assigned to Beat 132R
(overnight unit), 5834 was the Evidence Tech assigned, and the E-Tech was assigned his own event number
for this assignment, 172 was assigned a “check the well-being” and 172R (1st district wagons) was assigned
their own job, each being given their own event numbers as well.
The “disposition” slot on the ticket is where we see the “code” assigned to the job by the responding unit. On
this ticket, beat 172 gave this job a 19A = Miscellaneous Incident, Not Bonafide. Was this job really
a misc
incident that wasn’t bonafide? Yes! Ahh, but the event number assigned to the death has no final dispo code.
For this job in particular, the job was never coded out because there is no CPD code for this sort of incident.
The death was assigned a UCR of 5085 in this instance, an RD# was issued, notification made to CW2 for
removal, the deceased was transported to the Cook County Morgue, and assigned an M.E. Record Number.
This is why we always
say “trust, but verify” and never
make assumptions.
Technical Terms and Hashtags
In no particular order at the moment…
10-4 means the car responding is identified is a two-person car.
10-99 (or 99)
10-99 means the car responding is a single person car, and this response is
sometimes shortened to "99."
Code for an officer, firefighter or paramedic in distress. Officers are to disregard jobs
they are on, for the most part, and respond. Dispatcher "holds the air" and keeps all
other jobs from getting assigned until the unit in distress is accounted for.
Hostage-Barricade-Terrorist - an incident which requires a SWAT response. HBT
incidents are usually handled on Citywide 6, if not on the zone the incident started
SWAT stands for Special Weapons and Tactics - this is a unit in the Chicago Police
Department (and many other departments) which use specialized or military
equipment and tactics. SWAT responds to hostage/barricade/terrorist incidents,
and/or suicide intervention, as well as initiates service of high risk warrants. It may
also be called to break up protests in which the protesters are chained together.
Special Operations Response Team, usually includes personnel from the SWAT
Violence Reduction Initiative
Mental Health Crisis Intervention Team Officer
Heard shots, felt pain
The area a police officer is assigned to patrol, an area within a police district.
“A police shift. The police workday is divided into three watches. The first watch
begins at 11 pm or midnight; the second, at 7 or 8 am; and the third, at 3 or 4 pm.” -
CPD website
Portable Data Terminal (PDT), the computer seen in police cars.
Computed Aided Dispatch. Police Computer Aided Dispatch (PCAD) is the police
component of the CAD system.
The generic code which means a job was handled. Also see list of codes below. A
poem taught in the Police Academy:
"There ain’t no call, too big or small,
that can be dispo'd (disposed), Squad 19-Paul"
Genuine or real - something did actually occur.
Loud reports
Possible gunshots heard by a police officer (as opposed to shots fired, heard by
A ticket used to be cards call takers/dispatchers would write down jobs on at OEMC.
Now this is all computerized, but dispatchers still use the term.
####-Robert unit
Beat cars working the first watch, also called “midnight cars”.
####-Adam unit
An auxiliary beat car - for example, 1913A is an auxiliary unit to beat 1913 which is
a dedicated beat car in the 019th District.
####-X-ray unit
An "X-Ray Car" means that the Beat has gone over their designated relief time for
various reasons. The dispatcher makes them an "X-Ray Car" so he/she can keep
that car logged into the dispatch system in the event they still need to use their PDT
(Police Data Terminal). The oncoming Beat would take over their beat number
minus the X. For example, 1913X (X-Ray), went over their end of tour, so the
dispatcher kept them in the CAD system so the oncoming 1913 can log in.
##6#-A thru E
As far as tact teams go 1968 A,B,C,D,E,would designate the specific team(Usually
determined by day off groups)
Short for detectives. Usually used in the phrase “call the dicks”
Tactical Response Report
Crime Lab
The CPD’s Mobile Crime Lab, which is used to process homicide scenes and
incidents where an officer’s weapon was discharged.
Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, the 911 and
dispatch center for the city. #ShitOEMCSays is something a dispatcher said.
A four digit codes that law enforcement agencies use to classify criminal incidents
when taking individual reports.
Generic UCR (5000)
Usually pulled when a notification (for ET, detectives, etc.) must be made from the
zone in a timely fashion but unsure of final UCR code. Will be changed when things
get sorted out.
Event Number
A numeric designation the dispatch system assigns each event.
Body Snatchers
Allied Removal Services, the company which removes deceased individuals to the
Medical Examiner’s office (or other places).
The Illinois State Police Emergency Radio Network, a statewide frequency used for
agency interoperability during pursuits or to give flashes on major crimes.
Frequency of 155.475MHz.
Radio Channels
Busy/important zones and citywides will be noted in bold. You can find the streams for these channels on the
Cook County Broadcastify page, or on (click “Listen Online”). also will
show you what zone to listen to from a given address.
Zones (abbreviated as Z# e.g. Z6 for Zone 6)
Zone 1 - 16th and 17th districts
Zone 2 - 19th district
Zone 3 - 12th and 14th districts
Zone 4* - 1st and 18th districts (* - during protests, other major events)
Zone 5 - 2nd district
Zone 6 - 7th and 8th districts
Zone 7 - 3rd district
Zone 8 - 4th and 6th districts
Zone 9 - 5th and 22nd districts
Zone 10 - 10th and 11th districts
Zone 11 - 20th and 24th districts
Zone 12 - 15th and 25th districts
Zone 13 - 9th district
Citywides (abbreviated as CW# e.g. CW1 for Citywide 1)
Citywide 1 - major accidents, K9, SWAT, marine unit, gangs, traffic, mass transit unit, and
police helicopter requests
Citywide 2 - evidence technician, crime lab, and body removal requests (tune to this after a
Citywide 3 - gets road service (car repair) requests and formal "flash" messages and I almost
always lock this out
Citywide 4 - name checks
Citywide 5 - used by mass transit units operating in the subway, and so can be listened to both
above and below ground
Citywide 6 - for major events - marathon, parades, etc, or HBT incidents
Citywide 7 - used by the Traffic Management Authority for handling traffic control at major
Citywide 8 - a short-range "car to car" channel that cannot be listened to by a dispatcher, you’re
lucky if you pick up traffic on it.
Chicago 1 / “Chi 1” - short-range 800MHz FM tactical channel (853.2125MHz) - sometimes
used at special events or for security details of VIPs
NOTE: Both Citywide 5 and 6 are backup frequencies for the zones, used when there is radio
trouble or maintenance on the zone.
Additionally, the Chicago Police Department has nine future frequencies currently licensed by the FCC. At this
time, there is no word as to when or if they plan to implement these nine frequencies. View a list of all the
channels and the corresponding frequency for scanner programming on
Radio Traffic
Police Dispatchers and the officers they communicate with, dispatchers acting as their very lifeline, need to
know who is at the other end of that microphone at all times. Because of the security and safety - sensitive
need to authenticate each other, there is a policy in place at the Chicago Police Department and at the
Chicago Office of Emergency Management & Communications stating that each CPD officer MUST identify
themselves upon keying up their mic and at the end of every transmission. Likewise, dispatchers must identify
their zone or citywide console at times determined in FCC regulations, and by OEMC policies.
On the dispatch side, you’re likely to hear “This is KSJ1745, Chicago Police Zone Four Point to Point Radio,
console time is 1430 Hours, and the zone is clear”
To learn more about CPD’s radio communications protocol and policies, view this directive:
The primary job of CPD OEMC Dispatchers is to assign police units to calls received at the 911 center, track
each responding unit for progress on each call, make any needed notifications to other city departments or
officials, and close each assigned job out by obtaining a final disposition code from the responding unit.
Assigning Jobs
Dispatch: “187F”
Unit: “187F, go squad”
Dispatcher: “187F, I’ve got a disturbance with the homeless person at Macy’s 111 N. State St. in the food
court. Caller didn’t give a description”
Unit: “187F, 1099 squad. I’m on the way, I’m coming from Randolph & Clark”
Dispatcher: “Ok, lemme know what ya got when you get there”
Dispatcher: “187 Foot, I just got a job handed to me by a calltaker. The call information says a homeless
person is causing a disturbance at 111 N. State St in the food court and the caller didn’t give us any physical
Officer: “Ok, I’m the foot unit you’re assigning and I understand I’m to go to 111 N. State St in the food court to
handle an alleged disturbance with a homeless person and we have no description. I’m a single unit with no
partner, and I understand you want me to contact you to let you know if I need help once I lay eyes on this
Officer: “I’m 187 Frank (a foot unit) and I’m with a partner (I’m a 10-4 unit) and we understand we’re to go to
111 N. State St in the food court to handle an alleged disturbance with a homeless person and we have no
description. we understand you want us to contact you to let you know if I need help once we lay eyes on this
Handling Jobs
Dispatcher: "1632, domestic on the beat, between Harlem and Nagle on the north side of the street on
Addison. Two people screaming and yelling at each other, throwing objects at each other as well, alcohol
involved, neighbors calling it in."
Responding Unit: "1632, 10-4 squad, we're en route."
Dispatcher: "1631, can you take a ride with 32 on their domestic?"
Responding Unit: "1631, 10-4."
These units arrive on-scene, and no one is there. They take a ride around the area to see if the involved
parties may have moved this domestic to another nearby location. The dispatcher says they need a code for
the assigned job. The units give a 19B (no one found). In cases of complaints, and petty violations of city
ordinance / state law, etc. that turn out to be unfounded - because the alleged offenders have moved, the
situation resolves by the time the officers get there and no violation is found - they're told by dispatchers to
"code the job out" Please see the “Technical terms and hashtags” section for the full list of CPD disposition
Unit calling in: "1632."
Dispatcher: "1332, go."
"Officer: "1632, squad, we're on Addison between Harlem & Nagle, and saw nothing. We’re touring the area,
hold us down here looking around for a bit."
Dispatcher: "10-4."
(A few minutes later).
Responding Unit: "1632"
Dispatcher: "1632, go."
Responding Unit: "Squad, we find nothing. Give this a 19-Boy." (19 means miscellaneous disturbance, boy
means person not found - to understand what the codes mean, refer to the “Technical Terms and Hashtags”
list. 19-B and 19-P are the most common disposition codes.
Dealing with Violent Crime
The zone is active with all the usual traffic when suddenly….”Units in 25, and units on citywide, we got a call of
shots fired, shots fired at Division & Springfield, several shots heard, we’re getting multiple tickets” “2532, can
you ride on this?” “2530 and 2534 can you also ride on this?” Several other units in 025 also call in to say
they’re going on this as well. The units arrive at Division & Springfield to find a victim shot multiple times. They
come over the air and tell the zone dispatcher it’s “bonafide” and they tell the zone to roll an ambulance. 2563D
also on-scene reads out a "flash" message with suspect information. Every bit of this is done in plain English.
Dispatcher: " Who’s the paper car for this? I need the UCR on this so we can pull an RD and start making our
notifications, are you going with 0110 or is it still an 041A?" (Zero-one-one-zero or oh-four-one-adam).
Responding Unit: "2532, Squad, make this an RD for a 041A. But it may change, he’s not looking too good"
Dispatcher: "10-4, Henry X-Ray 666666, again, HX-and all sixes for the ucr of zero-four-one-a-adam. Let me
know any updates on the victim’s status changes. Who’s riding with the ambulance and what’s the ambulance
Dispatcher: "I need you to give me the uniform crime reporting code that you’re assigning to the person shot.
We need to create an internal "records division" number. We also have to start making notifications required by
general order. Will you be using 0110 (homicide - first degree murder) or 041A (aggravated battery with a
handgun)? I'm asking because some piece of information relayed to me - either from the call taker who spoke
with a 911 caller or by an officer at the scene -was that the victim was in grave condition, but if still alive, it's
Responding Unit: "2532, he's still alive and we want a records division number for an aggravated battery with a
Dispatcher: “OK. The number is HX-942999 for the agg batt. Make sure you get back to me if the victim dies so
we can change the UCR to 0110”
Other Things to Listen For
A “10-1” is code for an officer, firefighter or paramedic in distress. Officers are to disregard jobs they are on, for
the most part, and respond. Dispatcher "holds the air" and keeps all other jobs from getting assigned until the
unit in distress is accounted for.
After a shooting / other violent crime / burglary / death not attended by a physician (suicide, sudden death,
sudden illness resulting in death, accident involving death, or homicide: citywide 2 gets the evidence technician
(ET), crime lab and body removal requests. ET / Crime Lab arrival is usually as soon as possible after a
shooting. They try to be there between 10 to 30 minutes after. Body removal could occur any time. The scene
belongs to the police, the body and all belongings belong to the medical examiner. Once body removal is
called for, they have 75 minutes to arrive on-scene. This conversation happens like this:
In the case of body removal: Dispatcher will ask for the officer’s unit number, name, star #, RD# and UCR code
from original report, Detective’s Name and Star #, Detective’s Area Assignment and Detective Beat
Assignment, then followed by the Medical Examiner star # and name. The dispatcher asks follow-up questions
now: “What’s the address for removal?”, “What condition is the body in?”, “Natural death or some other
circumstance?”, and “How heavy is the body?”
For violent crimes and property crimes, the dispatcher will usually just get the address, officer’s name and star
#, RD# and UCR, victim name, victim contact information, and ask what needs to be done….(photographs,
fingerprint dusting, DNA samples, gun shell recovery and / or scene processing, etc.)
Chicago Police Department Incident Reporting - Behind The Scenes of What You Hear
This is page one of a CPD General Incident Case Report. These were at one time, called, “General Offense
Case Reports”. For most incidents CPD responds to, they fill out one of these. When you hear a unit call for an
RD and Event#, “for UCR XXXX (insert UCR code)”, chances are the unit is filling out one of these. As you can
see, they are pretty simple and self-explanatory. Pages two and three get a bit more complicated.
On this page, the “paper car” or R/O (reporting officer) will list the name of the injured victim if there are
injuries, first-aid information, who the CFD responding ambulance was by ambulance number, extent of injuries
(minor, critical, or fatal) and if the victim died….the date victim was pronounced, who removed the body, when
the body was removed, who authorized the removal, and information about the weapon. Next will be injury
information about the witnesses if any, demographic information about the victim, offender, and witnesses
(Domestic Information), any other information needed, then information about notifications made by the R/O.
The summary on these CPD reports starts with “Event# XXXXX, in summary R/O responded to (insert address
and facts here, and go from there). The last section for CPD personnel is simple.
Chapter 3: Chicago Fire Department Lingo
The Chicago Fire Department responds to all fire and medical emergencies in the City of Chicago. The most
common responses are for auto collisions, carbon monoxide, house and apartment fires, allergic reactions,
shooting scenes, murders / homicides, suicides, dead persons, drug overdoses, drunk persons, persons down,
bike collisions, heart attacks, strokes, asthma / respiratory emergencies, and psychiatric emergencies.
The Chicago Fire Department currently has 75 Advanced Life Support ambulances (since 2014 - previously 15
of those were BLS). It is well-known in the City of Chicago that you’ll know when a CFD ambulance is
transporting a deceased person….a trip with lights and sirens that end up getting shut off before the
ambulance arrives close to the hospital usually indicates that the transport is no longer an emergency.
Just like the Chicago Police Department, CFD documents all their responses with an incident report number
and an event number. CFD incident report numbers do not look like, or function like CPD report numbers. They
look like this: XX (last two digits of the year) - XXX(3 digit run number)-XXXX(4 digit event number)-00.
The Chicago Fire Department two-way radio communications system is a P25 digital non-trunked system
(Digital conventional = one user per frequency). Chicago is divided into 2 dispatch areas: Main (North) and
Englewood (South). The south branch of the Chicago River / Sanitary Ship Canal (which runs just north of
I-55/Stevenson Exp.) is the dividing line. North of the Canal – MAIN, south of the Canal - Englewood.
Find the frequency and digital/analog mode information from RadioReference.
Accident Types
Sometimes on the radio you may hear a CFD unit saying they are involved in a “1B Accident” and asks for a
chief to respond. The number refers to an accident class, and the suffix denotes if there are injuries or not.
Class 1 - One other vehicle
Class 2 - Two other vehicles
Class 3 - Pedestrian
Class 4 - Fixed object
Class 5 - Unreported damage
Suffix (e.g. Class 1B)
A - Injuries
B - No injuries
Other Definitions
Emergency Change - Lights & Sirens
Administrative Change - No Lights or Sirens
More definitions can be found at
OEMC Assignments For CFD Units
The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) doesn’t just dispatch
Police, they also dispatch Fire and EMS jobs. The Fire & EMS Dispatchers are in a separate section of the 911
call center than CPD. Just LIKE CPD, they also have a ticket they read from when assigning jobs to Fire &
EMS units.
These tickets are read the same as CPD tickets, with one exception. The event type and disposition are
different. ADVCFD is Advanced Life Support, and a disposition of ADV means advanced transport to level 1
trauma center. Just as with CPD, CFD is also issued event numbers, only CFD’s event numbers are only four
digits long on their incident reports, and are part of the incident report number. The event numbers for CFD on
this ticket, are the LAST four digits seen in the listed event number.
Chapter 4: Other Department/Agency Lingo
This chapter is a work in progress. Contributions detailing the operation of the following organizations are
Illinois State Police
Chicago Transit Authority
Chapter 5: Ethically Reporting the Scanner
As anyone with a scanner knows, what is heard on the air may be confidential or sensitive, either to victims,
police/fire, or the general public. Thus, ethics is very important when listening to scanner traffic. Here at, we have developed our own code of ethics around listening to and reporting information
heard on the scanner.
This code of ethics is inspired by Howard Owens's "The Batavian’s basic rules for scanner reporting" and the
Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics which applies to any kind of reporting. This code is meant to
be an extension of that code of ethics, specifically targeted at the nuances of sharing what we hear on the
police scanner. Note that this is merely a guide, not a set of rules which must be followed every single time.
Take this code in full and know that encourages anyone tweeting out what they hear on the
scanner to do so ethically by following this code.
Code of Ethics
Report the truth
Scanner reporting is often controversial and can be quite inaccurate at times. We seek to provide truth and
clarity on situations, not muddy them further. There are some basic guides one can follow to help do this:
Keep in mind this is preliminary information and is an incomplete picture of what is actually happening.
Do provide in-progress and accurate information about newsworthy emergency situations.
Don't take anything heard on the scanner as official information.
Feel free to talk with or alert your followers, ensuring they are aware what is being reported comes from
a scanner, thus is not to be taken as official or fact.
Let the police inform the public about how to react to a dangerous situation. If giving personal advice,
ensure it is distanced from any official response by the authorities.
Minimize harm
What gets broadcast on the scanner is often sensitive and sometimes even confidential in nature, thus
listeners must exercise good judgement when reporting on what they hear. What should one consider if they
are going to have good judgement?
Basic dispatch information is generally safe.
Don't broadcast exact police movements/locations in a sensitive situation.
Don't encourage people to flock to the scene.
Be sensitive to potential victims. Do not report a possible crime in a way that might identify an individual
unless a description is necessary to help identify a fleeing suspect. This means never
giving out:
Victim or caller names
Phone numbers
Driver’s License or State ID information
Social Security numbers
Other identifying information
Don't give specific medical conditions of patients. Defer to using the good/fair/serious/critical spectrum,
knowing that "stable" is not a condition but rather a lack of changing condition.
Be accountable
As a reporter of breaking news, information can come from multiple sources and can be frequently changing.
Ethical scanner reporters must take responsibility for their work and ensure it is as ethically sound as possible.
Major news media corporations are watching us. City, County, State, and Federal authorities / officials are
watching us. A lack of integrity or accountability can lead to lawmakers attempting to create overly restrictive
laws & regulations, and will mean the major media will not take us seriously. This would also result in the
reporting of breaking news becoming extremely difficult to perform.
Avoid making assumptions whenever possible.
Always credit your sources.
It's good to be fast; it's also good to wait.
Draw conclusions about crimes, criminals, and situations at your own risk. If you must
give a personal
opinion, you should clearly indicate that the remark made is your personal opinion. The moment you do
this, you should consider your credibility and whether or not you want to act as a Journalist / Reporter in
the situation, or act as a person merely making their own personal commentary.
"Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and
clarifications carefully and clearly."
Twitter Community
Once you have a good scanner setup and you're listening, why not share what you hear with the world?
There's a large scanner community on Twitter, providing breaking news to journalists and others. Some
#ChicagoScanner and #CrimeisDown participants are local journalists / reporters who work for major
companies and are well-known, and others are independent. Independent reporters / journalists work for
themselves and may even have their own media operations going on. Check out the hashtag
#ChicagoScanner and join in. Definitely follow @Chicago_Scanner and @SPOTNEWSonIG for great scanner
tweets. Use our scanner tools to include more information in your tweets. Those participating for more than
hobby purposes should be prepared to seek out better, more credible resources ahead of time as a matter of
being pro-active, and remember to check that those alternate sources are functioning regularly.
#ChicagoScanner and #CrimeisDown participants sometimes stop tweeting and participating without notice.
Some users block people without reason, and some protect their accounts without warning.
Please note: Use the #ChicagoScanner and #CrimeisDown hashtags only for newsworthy incident reporting.
Refrain from using it for routine calls such as drinking on the public way, parking offenses, traffic offenses,
petty quality of life offenses, petty business offenses, city ordinance violations and petty misdemeanor crimes
in general.
Monitoring Citywide 2
ET Requests / Death Investigations / Homicides / Suspected Suicides
You may hear CPD and CFD respond to natural deaths where the decedent was discovered by a friend,
neighbor, or relative. You’ll hear them respond to Homicides, Suicides, and other incidents that require either a
body removal, an evidence tech, a crime lab, or all
of these services. Those requests are made on Citywide 2.
There are special legal and moral considerations to make when monitoring and reporting traffic on this
citywide. Sensitivity to the safety and protection of victims is first at all times!
NEVER give ANY information about the victim beyond the known sex of the victim, victim’s age, injury
type, and where the person is injured (I.E.: Knee injury, shot in the arm, stabbed in the chest, etc) If a
victim wants to go public with more detail about their situation, they will do that on their own!
Give only the RD#, Event #, Service Requested, Beat #, Police Unit # if given or if listed in this guide, in
the Chicago Police Directives System, in CARMA docs, or in the CrimeIsDown database. Give the
address as the first two numbers followed by xx or xxx so as to obscure the address. Police Officer /
Detective Star # and name is public record and may be given.
If a service is being asked for at a hospital for a Domestic Violence victim or Sex Crime victim, NEVER
give the hospital name or address! Example: “1162C requesting an E.T. for a 25 year old male or
female (choose one) sex crime victim (sexual assault / sex abuse). Need photos of victim and retrieval
of rape kit”. Note no address or hospital name is given, no victim name or any other identifiers given.
Adhere to this for DV victims as well.
For burglary victims, the only rule is DO NOT identify them or give out their contact information, and
when giving the address, make sure to obscure the last digits.
Calls you’ll inevitably hear if you monitor even sporadically will be: “body removal - natural”, “body removal -
0110”, and “body removal - 5085”. Suicides, no matter the method used, are assigned the UCR code 5085.
The vast majority of train vs. pedestrian calls in Chicago will be UCR 5085. In the event the police aren’t sure
that it’s a suicide, they’ll assign the UCR code for a Death Investigation, 5078. In any other non-criminal and
non-traffic - related death, UCR 5084. During the spring and summer, you’ll hear 5084 being used a little more
than usual because of accidental drownings that occur on the lakefront, at our beaches, and as a result of
boating incidents where an accidental drowning may occur.
NEVER assign a manner or cause of death unless the M.E. has made it public or you’ve spoken with
the M.E. Spox!
NEVER give the identity of the victim! Police and the M.E. will make that public after the family has
been notified.
M.E. Names and M.E. Star / Shield numbers are public record, you may give those publicly
Police Officer / Detective Names and Star Numbers are public record, you may give those publicly
Information about condition of the body may be given. This is public record. Please remain
M.E. Record Numbers are public record. You may give those out if context and need dictate it to be
material to your report
The citywide 2 dispatcher asks the police for specific information during the body removal request. Most
of that is public information. The portions that are not public information relate to victim identity, phone
numbers, email addresses, social media identifiers, URL’s, social security numbers, etc.
Sometimes OEMC sends out a call of a natural death that was expected and attended by a licensed
physician. Police generally will either code it out, or they’ll respond, make contact with the family, and
explain that natural death is not an emergency and law enforcement can only make a non-criminal
report and depart the scene.
Sometimes, very rarely, a celebrity death occurs where CPD responds and must request Detectives,
Crime Lab, ET’s, and Body Removal. All above protocol applies. DO NOT deviate. Remember, family /
next of kin needs to be notified. The M.E. will release the identity of the deceased.
You may be monitoring CW2 or a zone and find out someone you personally knew has died. This may
be traumatic for you. This scenario HAS played out in the past for some people. We highly recommend
immediate disengagement from #ChicagoScanner and #CrimeisDown activity so you can deal with
your loss. We will be here when you return. Please accept our condolences, and know that we wish you
all the best!
Information That May Interfere With Public Safety Operations or Active
You will hear offender names, and personal information about offenders given on the air. This is true especially
when it applies to someone who is wanted in a serious incident, or in an offense that may lead to more serious
things. Police will often give a flash message in these cases. You may give out that flash, but there are times
when you want to think twice about which part of the flash information may result in the offender finding out
they’re wanted and then going on the run, or someone who wants to protect the offender acting to aid and abet
the offender as a fugitive. The best practice is only to give out the physical description and direction of flight,
vehicle or bike / motocycle description and license plate info. NEVER give out information about where the
license plate is registered or who it’s registered to until such time as the offender has been arrested and
formally charged, or arraigned.
#ChicagoScanner and #CrimeisDown “On-View” Reportage
Chicago is an active city, so, you will eventually see a breaking news event. This may be a crime, a fire, an
auto-collision, a suicide, a severe weather event, a lakefront / riverfront / other water related incident, large
protest, a CTA Rail / Metra / Amtrak collision with a vehicle or a person, or worst-case scenario… act of
terrorism. YES!! We WANT to know about it! The public wants to know! However, we ask that you protect
yourself first! Provide for your own safety and well-being before you do anything!
IN ANY situation involving police and / or fire response, DO NOT IMPEDE THEM! You should definitely find a
place to photograph or film that allows you to get good footage without getting in their way. Impeding an
emergency response or police activity is a crime. Journalists, Reporters, and members of the general public
should never place themselves in legal jeopardy to obtain footage. If police or fire direct you to move farther
away, then you need to do that. If you’re directed to a media staging area, go there. If you’re told the area is
not safe for you to be in, follow all directions without hesitation to get out. Unless you’re in a position to know
something police, fire, or emergency management don’t know, you should never second - guess them!
Who is a Reporter and Who is a Journalist?
From time to time, someone may challenge the legitimacy of “scanner reporting”. Along with this, the challenge
often arises as to who a reporter or a journalist is. “What college / university did you attend?”, “Where’s your
media credentials?”, “Who do you work for?”. There’s also the common refrain…”oh, you’re just a blogger” or
“your just some person on twitter, you’re not a legitimate reporter / journalist!”, and “you need permission from
the police department or FCC / homeland Security to do what you’re doing!”
Some may even threaten to “report” you to the “authorities”. There are many legal organizations that protect
your rights. They are The Electronic Frontier Foundation, The ACLU, The First Amendment Coalition,
American Library Association, Society of Professional Journalists, Reporter’s Committee For Freedom of The
Press, First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, and The Freedom Forum.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution found in the Bill of Rights has been interpreted by the
U.S. Supreme Court to mean the following:
The 1st Amendment does not confer a burden on any speaker to first attend any college or university
before they can engage in free speech and free expression
The 1st Amendment does not mandate or confer a burden on any speaker to work for a major
corporation specializing in the creation of content or distribution of that content before they can engage
in freedom of speech and freedom of expression
The 1st Amendment does not mandate or burden any speaker with first obtaining any credential or
license before they can engage in freedom of speech or freedom of expression
The method and / or medium of publishing information to the public does not matter, and this means
platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Periscope, Wordpress, Blogger, LiveJournal, and other
platforms are valid.
Refer to EFF's Legal Guide for Bloggers on Reporter’s / Journalist’s Privilege for additional information on the
Chapter 6: Reporting Sensitive Calls & Calls With Special
Calls and Reports Involving Racial, Religious, Ethnic, Sexual, and Gender
Spectrum Minorities
#ChicagoScanner and #CrimeIsDown WILL NOT tolerate racism, xenophobia, dismissal of / persecution of
religious beliefs, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, or any provocation of hate / behavior that is less than
inclusive. You will eventually hear calls involving people from these social groups. City, County, State, and
Federal Dispatchers aren’t allowed to discriminate or make jokes, quips, backhanded remarks, etc. WE don’t
practice it either!
Calls involving mentions of race and / or ethnicity should be reported as simply and professionally as possible.
“The black male was seen hitting the Mexican female on S. Parnell” will do. At times, dispatchers will ask for a
spanish speaker, a polish speaker, a Ukrainian speaker, etc. If it’s relevant to your report, and you must
include it, simply say “OEMC is looking for an officer that speaks (insert language)”
In the 14th, 18th, 19th, and specific other areas of the city, you’ll hear “The store is calling in a suspicious
person, they say it’s a man dressed as a woman / woman dressed as a man”. This should be sent out as “The
business is calling in the transgender person who they think is suspicious” personal remarks need not apply.
You may hear calls involving same sex domestics, or other kinds of crimes / victimization done by or done to
LGBTQIA persons. WE DO NOT use the terms “Fag”, “Fag Hag”, “Lesbo”, “Carpet Licker”, “Homo”, “Tranny”,
“He-She”, “She He”, “it”, “Transvestite”. “CD wimp”, “CD Tranny”, “LGBT Predator”, “LGBT Perv”, or any other
derogatory term, no matter how coded your language may be. For immediate clarification, being LGBTQIA is
not recognized by any medical or legal authority as a threat, mental illness, or reason for concern.
“Two LGBT individuals fighting at Center on Halsted, no weapons observed, one white male and one hispanic
male with no further description” is good enough.
See the GLAAD 10th Edition Media Reference Guide (PDF)
In the same vein, “Nigger”, “Polack”, “Wetback”, “Spic”, “Illegal”, “spigger”, “Sand Nigger”, “Whop”, “Kike”,
“Wihte Power”, “White Pride”, “Aryan”, “Muzzie”, “Muzzy”, “Terrorist Muslim”, “Arab POS”, or any other racial
epithet / racial or ethnic hate reference will not be tolerated.
“Getting a call on Devon and Clark involving an Indian restaurant owner who says he was stiffed on the bill
when the patron ate and ran” is good enough.
“Disturbance at the Mosque in the 017th district on Elston near Lawrence with a protester and a Muslim family
trying to gain entrance” is all that’s needed.
Libel, Defamation of Character, Slander, Incitement of Violence, Fighting Words, or True Threats based on
race, Religion, Ethnicity, National Origin, Sexuality, Gender Spectrum Identification / Gender Presentation,
Body Type, Familial Status, Marital Status, Ability or Disability, Mental Status, Sex, Political Affiliation, Age,
Financial Class, Immigration Status, Nationality / National Origin, or other protected status will not be welcome
or tolerated. There are legal and social consequences for these behaviors.
Emergency responders belong to all of these groups and more. Your prejudice may place them at
grave risk of harm.
Calls & Reports Involving Juveniles - Runaways, Abuse / Neglect, Mental Illness,
Other Juvenile Emergencies
In the State of Illinois, a juvenile is a person under the age of 18 or any person who has been determined by a
licensed physician, or court of law, to be incompetent due to persistent severe, chronic, or total mental
incapacitation and who does not have the ability and / or skill to function at an adult level.
The Chicago Police Department Special Victim’s Unit investigates crimes and some non-criminal incidents
done by, and done to:
- Children
- Elderly Persons
- The Mentally Ill and / or Developmentally Disabled regardless of their age
The appropriate Detectives may respond to and / or assist / coordinate with SVU Detectives depending on the
facts and totality of circumstances of an incident. When reporting on these incidents, we NEVER give out the
identity of a child, Elderly, mentally ill, or developmentally disabled person until 1. Amber Alert sends out an
alert with that information 2. CPD News Affairs publicly releases the identity 3. The M.E. releases an identity
when a death is involved
We DO NOT give out any addresses unless Amber Alert or CPD News Affairs releases such information.
DCFS cases are almost never on-air, but the very first mention of DCFS should be an indicator that the case is
about to take some very dramatic twists and turns, and you should follow closely without saying much until
everything can be substantiated either by your own journalistic efforts or that of a credible party involved in the
investigation, or by an official release. #ChicagoScanner and #CrimeisDown will rarely, if ever, take the blame
for a DCFS case going wrong. DCFS needs no help making critical errors or mishandling their cases. That’s
their trademark.
The most common case involving a juvenile will be the runaway scenario. Some are habitual runaways, others
are first timers. The next common scenarios involving juveniles will be the neighborhood disturbance, the big
school fight, the classroom or hallway disturbance, shoplifting, and gang / mob activity. During the nicer
weather, juveniles like to clique up in groups and randomly physically attack people in populated areas, commit
strongarm robberies as a group, or victimize lone juveniles as a group.
See the CPD Directives for Juvenile Arrests, Interrogation, and Processing:
Processing of Juveniles and Minors Under Department Control
Printable and Non-Printable Offense Procedures
Processing Juvenile Arrestees Charged as Adults
Arrestees Processed as Adults and Later Determined to be Adults
Juvenile Intervention and Support Center
Juvenile Felony Review Pilot Program
Processing School Absentees
Processing Curfew Violators
Processing Status Offenders 17 Years of Age
The next common call you’ll hear is child abuse / neglect. This is a call that will automatically generate a
response by DCFS after the police response. That response may happen right away, or it may happen within
24 hours. DCFS has been known to wait as long as half a year before assigning a response.
Juvenile responses are the most sensitive and difficult to report on because the juvenile offender is also likely
to be a victim. For Juvenile reporting in the context of Juvenile victims, see the CPD Directives System:
Abused, Neglected, Dependent, and Abandoned Children Coming Under Department Control
ALL information and remarks released by DCFS should always, always, always, be triple checked and taken in
an extremely critical light. DCFS has lost all credibility even in the eyes of Illinois Courts, and should never be
the final word on anything involving a child, an elderly person, or a person with mental illness or developmental
disability. The default sources of credibility should always be the Commander of Special Victim’s Detectives,
an area Detective Commander, and the Illinois Court Judge involved in the case.
As these cases move through the court system and resolve, the Office of The Guardian Ad Litem will be
involved at each step. Their office is also not to be given any substantial credibility. DCFS Regional Counsel
may make statements, and those statements should always be triple researched. These two offices are noted
to be engaged in mostly political endeavours, and rarely are ever noted to make public statements based on
See Illinois DCFS Outcomes website for IDCFS for policies involving the tracking, placement, treatment, and
well-being of Illinois youth in care. Many of the applications available through this site employ the Child and
Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment instrument.
See also, DCFS Policies, Rules, and Forms
Child Abuse and Neglect Investigation Records (PDF)
School Shooting Responses
This modern day and age means we are hearing more about school shootings done either by students, or
other persons. The Chicago Police Department sometimes receives calls of suspected active shooter
situations or suspected shots fired at Chicago Public Schools.
CPS has a Student Code of Conduct and an active shooter policy.
Plan and Prepare Illinois
Ready Illinois - Schools / Campus
Appendix A: Additional Resources
This appendix is a work in progress.
EFF Index of All Questions
City of Chicago FOIA Contact Information by Department
Contacting Agency Spokespersons
Chicago Police Department
Anthony Guglielmi is the Spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department. You may contact him on Twitter
@AJGuglielmi or
Chicago Fire Department
The Chicago Fire Department has an official twitter account which is operated by Larry Langford most times,
and is sometimes handed off to other CFD media officials as needed. This account tweets out one-way alerts
on major CFD responses and updates will be seen as determined by CFD Media Affairs.
Larry Langford may be reached for official press inquiries at
Cook County Medical Examiner
Becky Schlickerman is the Spokesperson for the Cook County Medical Examiner, and by law, she may not
answer tweets about case specific information via twitter. You can e-mail Becky about official press business at
Mapping Tools
You are here. Chicagoland political boundaries
Crime in Chicagoland by the Chicago Tribune
Red X Buildings
Chicago Cityscape
Edifice - building maps
Vacant and Abandoned Building Finder
Scanner Recordings
You may need to right click and download the MP3 file if it does not play in your browser.
Cook County Illinois Live Audio Feeds
Chicago Mass Shooting Cornell Square Park EMS Radio Traffic 9/19/13
Chicago Police Zone 8 - 8:55pm Aug 24 - Clyp
10-1 at 80th and Avalon - Aug, 26 2014 - Clyp
7204 S Lowe - 10-1, officer shot & standoff
Fatal pursuit, 4001 W Ogden
Chicago Police Officer written up for lack of radio discipline
"Santa Claus just set a car on fire"
#BrownFriday protest - CW6 audio, 11:47am - 12:47pm
#BrownFriday protest - CW6 audio, 12:07pm, CPD hints at possible Stingray use(alternate mirror)
Journalism - Chicago Murder, Crime & Mayhem Stats
Chicago Under The Gun - Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune Breaking News
Chicago Sun-Times Crime News
How Chicago Became 'Chiraq'
"Deceptive numbers" - Crime statistics in Chicago
The Truth About Chicago’s Crime Rates
Crime in Chicagoland - Data Journalism
"Curb crime. Save Chicago."
"A new Plan of Chicago: 12 ways to heal a city" Reporting Principles and Practices
Batavian's basic rules for scanner reporting
Set of Principles in Fair Use for Journalism
Appendix B: Addendum
Corrections, clarifications, and notices of future updates shall go in this section.

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