I swear I haven’t abandoned you. I’ve been learning exciting new stuff, which I’ll share soon. In the meantime, here’s some fun cop slang and Fed lingo for your enjoyment and/or to use in your stories.
Street Cop Lingo
Suicide Strap: Narrow leather strap passing diagonally over the right shoulder connected to a police duty belt, also called a suicide belt. They were used extensively until the 1960s. The strap gained its name after often being grabbed by suspects and used against officers during altercations.
Pinch Book: A (usually) black leather case about 12” long that is used to hold an officer’s criminal and civil citations.
Pinch: Cop slang meaning to arrest someone
Barney Cage: A small steel bar jail cell with a bench and toilet that can hold up to four pre-processing arrestees, usually at a police sub-station. It got its name because it resembles the jail cell on the Barney Miller TV show.
Sap: A small bowling pin shaped leather sack, approximately 10 to 12 inches, that is tightly packed with granulated lead beads. Used similar to a night stick as an impact weapon, SAPs fell out of favor by most police by the 1980s.
Sap Pocket: A narrow pocket sewn into a police officer’s uniform pant leg, usually on the right side below the back pocket. Originally it was used to carry a SAP, but now is mainly used to carry an officer’s patrol gloves.
Hats and Bats: Cop slang for the riot squad
Kick Ya Outta the House Cops: Street slang for Deputy Sheriffs in the Pacific Northwest. The Sheriff’s Offices handle evictions and their uniforms are distinctly different from the city police uniforms. While serving evictions in the cities, kids (often paid by dope dealers as lookouts) will spill out into the street from neighboring homes yelling “it’s the kick ya outta the house cops.” This allows the kids to notify their employers that police are in the area and that they are likely the reason for the police presence.
Railroad Bull: Police Officer employed by private railroads and commissioned by the both the state and federal government to protect the railroad from trespassers, thefts, crossing violations, property destruction, and terrorism, usually carrying the title Special Agent or Detective.
Stock Detective: Cow Cop, Brand inspector, Cattleman’s Association Detective, Ranch Detective, Agriculture investigator — law enforcement investigators specifically assigned to police the agricultural industry through the state or cattle and stock associations deputized as peace officers with the primary duty of preventing, investing, and arresting livestock thieves, which have seen a massive rise in occurrence in the last five years.
Rippers: Groups of thieves who raid marijuana grows for resale. However, the term is starting to be used for people doing home invasions of marijuana dealers and business takeovers of medical marijuana dispensaries.
Booster: Professional shop lifter who makes their living by shoplifting large amounts of various items from department stores for the purpose of resale.
On the Nod: The state of a person after they ingest an opiate, usually heroine, leaving them in a drowsy euphoric state.
Shooting Gallery: Usually a secluded location like an abandoned house, building, or under a bridge, where drug addicts can inject heroine and stay there while they’re “On the Nod.”
Popping: Also called skin popping. Which is the subcutaneous injection of opiates (and sometimes stimulants like cocaine) instead of intravenously injecting the drug. Popping causes a slower introduction of the drugs into the blood system and also leaves bruising and scabbing to the injection area.
More Fed Lingo
302: Pronounced “three oh two,” is the term for the written interview reports by an FBI agent.
1001: Pronounced as “thousand and one,” is derived from 18 USC 1001, this is the felony charge of lying to federal investigators. (This is what Martha Stewart was charged with.)
SCERS Agent: Seized Computer Evidence Recovery Specialist (SCERS) Agent. A forensic analyst who is responsible for the recovery of electronic data from suspects’ computer systems. Most federal and state agencies have regional certified SCERS Agents who assist on search warrant operations to seize and handle electronic data.
Target letter: A letter issued by the US Attorney’s office to a soon-to-be defendant which lays out a broad scope of criminal activity the recipient is being investigated for, with the intention of convincing the recipient to obtain an attorney and come in for a proffer session (also known as Queen for a Day).
Lacey Violation: A Lacey Act Violation, federal felonies related to wildlife trafficking under 16 USC 3372 which contains numerous separate violations for illegal fish and wildlife trafficking crimes (it actually covers both flora and fauna).
PSD: Protective Security Detail, bodyguards for senior government officials, VIPs, and other people of government interest at a higher risk for kidnapping or assassination.
I found the origin of the Barney Cage fascinating. I used to be a big fan of Barney Miller. And I’ve always loved the term “Hats and Bats.”
Cops have the best slang, don’t they? Who comes up with this stuff?
I hope you all have a safe and fun Halloween!
After my book signing/reading on Friday, I’ll launch the Crime Lover’s Lounge. If you haven’t signed up to join us, you can do so on the left sidebar. Hope to see you there!