Why Are Cops Called 12

why are cops called 12
why are cops called 12

The police force has been a crucial part of society since the early 19th century. Over the years, various slang terms have emerged to refer to the police, and one popular term is “12.” But why are police officers called 12? Let’s delve into the origins of this slang term and its significance.

12 slang
A police car. Photo: unsplash.com, @mattpopovich (modifier by author)

What does “12” mean?

“12” is a slang term predominantly used in Atlanta, Georgia, to refer to the police. Different individuals may use the term in various ways – some as insulting or dismissive, while others in a neutral or even friendly manner.

Why are police called “12”?

The exact origin of the term “12” for law enforcement officers remains uncertain, but there are a few theories. One theory suggests that it derived from the police radio code 10-12, which signifies “stand by” or “wait.” This code, used in the 1960s and 1970s, led people to adopt the slang term “12” as a quick way to alert others about the presence of police in an area.

Why are cops called 12?
Officers on duty. Photo: pexels.com, @ludmilaaleksandra

Another theory connects the term to the acronym ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards). In this case, people use “12” as a shortened version of the acronym, where 1 represents A, 3 represents C, and 2 represents B. It’s worth noting that the number 1312 is sometimes used instead of the letters ACAB, and people have shortened it to simply “12.”

An additional theory relates to the old-school cop show called Adam-12. This show, which aired from 1968 to 1974, follows two law enforcement officers patrolling the Los Angeles streets in their patrol unit, 1-Adam-12. Similarly, the term “5-0” (or “five-oh”) is used to refer to another cop show, Hawaii 5-0.

Why do people call cops “12”?

People use the term “12” for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it serves as a warning to others about the presence of law enforcement in a particular area. It allows people to stay informed and potentially avoid any unwanted interaction. Additionally, “12” has been popularized in pop culture, including music and movies, making it a widely accepted moniker for the police. In the 1995 comedy film Friday, Ice Cube even uses “12” to warn his friends about the cops.

When did the police become “12”?

The term “12” began being associated with law enforcement in the late ’60s. Since then, it has gained momentum and become prevalent in pop culture, featuring in movies, TV shows, and songs.


Here are some frequently asked questions related to the topic:

  1. Where did the term “police” come from?
    The term originated from the Greek word “polity,” which means city.

  2. Where did the concept of professional police originate?
    The concept originated in the UK in the early 19th century.

  3. What is the name of the first police force?
    The first professional police force is called the Metropolitan Police from London.

  4. Why are cops called 12?
    The term “12” is used to alert people about the law enforcement presence in the area, giving them a heads up to proceed with caution.

  5. When did the police become 12?
    People started calling the police “12” in the late ’60s. It quickly gained popularity and is now widely used as a warning.

  6. Is it disrespectful to call the police 12?
    No, using the term “12” is not inherently disrespectful.

In conclusion, the term “12” has its roots in various factors, including police radio codes, pop culture references, and slang derived from acronyms. It serves as a warning to alert others about law enforcement presence and has become a widely recognized term for the police. While its exact origin may remain unclear, the term “12” continues to be a part of modern-day slang.

For more intriguing Q&A articles across different domains, visit Top Q&A.

Article by Top Q&A

Delve into a wealth of knowledge and insights with Top Q&A. Discover answers to your questions and join our vibrant community of learners today!

Related Post