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The radios depicted in the show were also used by the LAPD. A Motorola Motrac or Motran Model Radio. These were the so-called "DFE" (dual front-end) radios, used from about 1967 until at least 1975. On the LAPD Motran and Motrac control heads, the upper right toggle switch was always an on/off switch; the lower right knob was volume, the lower left knob was squelch. These radios were state of the art at the time and could withstand significant abuse in the field.

The handi-talkie is a Motorola "HT-200" (known as a CC unit) as seen on Adam-12 and was used by the LAPD from the 1960's to the 1980's.

Prior to the late 80's, LAPD Officers were not assigned portable radios, so when they left their units "Code 6" -  they were out of radio range. All LAPD patrol officers are now issued radios as standard equipment.

Frequencies on the radio

  • F1 was the dispatch channel pair for the division the car was assigned to
  • F2 was empty in some radios, but in many it was a seldom used "citywide" channel, the idea behind that was if a car was sent somewhere far removed from its home division, they could still reach a dispatcher.
  • F3 was Tac1 and was generally used by detectives
  • F4 was Tac2 and was generally used by patrol

The Simul position was never wired in any police units. The only use was in the City's Receiving Hospital Ambulances - "G" units, as seen in early episodes (pictured below) of Adam-12. It was set up so the city ambulance crews (pre-LAFD and dressed in LAPD uniform and hat) could monitor both the hospital frequency, and the police frequency for the division to which they were assigned, but the interference quickly made its use not recommended.

 WATCH NOW! Best Of 'SouthLAnd'



San Fernando Valley: Van Nuys, Valley Traffic, Tactic - C L I C K  H E R E
(Adam-12 and real LAPD RTO, Shaaron Claridge was a dispatcher for this area)



This is the first radio we see on the show. It is an authentic police radio in the real 1967 Belvedere that was borrowed from LAPD's North Hollywood Police Station for the Pilot. None of the identifying stickers were removed but the "M" and MOTOROLA were covered with tape. This radio is only seen in the Pilot.



The LAPD Police Radio & Detailed Explanation

The functions of (1), and  (2) marked: These were the so-called "DFE" (dual front-end) radios, used from about 1967 until at least 1975. They were still in use for a long time with the MDT's, which used those old frequencies. The radios back then had very narrow bandwidth [bandspread] (like <2 Mhz), and LAPD's dispatch output channels were in the 158.865 - 159.18 range. Mobiles and Tac frequencies were in the 154.65 - 155.79 range; so they essentially had two "front ends," one for each band segment, in the radio.
The frequency layout in most radios was as follows: (all dispatch freqs were semi-duplex, no repeaters).
F1 - Frequency assigned to the Division the radio belonged to. Received the Dispatch output (Freq A, B, D or E, depending on the part of the city), and transmitted on the division's INPUT freq (Freq 1,2, 3...).
Note that one output freq was shared by several divisions and their dispatchers ("RTO" ); with some exceptions, each division had its own talk-in freq and RTO.
F2 - This was a so-called "Citywide" dispatch frequency, Freq C/8, which was also used by Harbor Division for dispatch. During the 1965 Watts riots, cars coming in from distant divisions couldn't reach Communications Division due to the limited number of receiver sites for each frequency. So they added receivers and transmitters all around the city for this frequency pair. It was hardly ever used, though.
F3 - Tac 1 (F9) Simplex 154.83 - Used mainly by Detectives, except during unusual occurances. Car-to-car.
F4 - Tac 2 (F6) Simplex 154.77 - Used by patrol units for car-to-car.
"Simul" No, not a repeater. LAPD never had ANY repeaters until the T-band "R.O.V.E.R" radios showed up about 1980. The closest thing to "repeating" was during pursuits, when the "link' would crank up his speaker, aim his boom mic at it, and essentially let the unit broadcast his own pursuit.
The "Simul" selection wasn't even really installed in most radios. All the metropolitan area divisions used either Frequency A or Frequency B. "A" in the north end -- Central, Rampart, Hollenbeck, Hollywood, Wilshire and Northeast (was "Highland Park" until about 1969). "B" in the south end -- Southwest (was "University Div" until about 1969), Newton Street, 77th Street, plus all Accident Investigation Div ("T" cars), and Traffic Enforcement Div (Motors...they had two freqs).
Since north end Traffic and Motor units worked in Freq A (159.15 out) areas but used Freq B (158.91), hot-shot calls and crime broadcasts were always "simulcast' on both "A" and "B" so everyone would hear them.
The idea for "simul" in the radios was originally used for the ambulance G units, citywide detectives & Metro, or others not subject to getting radio calls: they could have reasonably quiet radios, not listening to five or six RTOs continuously babbling all the routine calls and chatter; but any hot stuff Communications would "simulcast" would be received on radios tuned to "simul." Few officers knew about it or ever used it.


In 1968 the special radio pictured (r) was specifically designed to monitor all radio calls (as seen on Adam-12) in LAPD police stations


The Watch Commander: THEN & NOW


The LAPD used station wagons for supervisory personnel (sergeants) going back to the late '60s. In addition to room for the typical supervisor-specific equipment, the station wagon had room for riot gear – shields, helmets, tear gas, launchers and other tactical gear. The station wagon also served as a mobile command post - an additional radio control head was mounted in the rear. The big station wagons faded from the police scene by the early-1990s – and were promptly replaced by SUVs. The new Area Command Vehicle can be quickly set up as an incident command vehicle in three minutes,
as neatly mounted in the rear, on roll-out supports, with communications equipment including a keyboard and two large-screen monitors.

In addition to the police communications gear, there is a router with 3G and 4G capability to access Internet / cellular access from either Sprint or Verizon. There is also an interface to connect the department’s iPads issued to command staff and an Apple TV.

A wireless printer is included so hard copies of maps or operations plans can be quickly printed up. This equipment can be powered by either the vehicle’s 12V electrical system or line-voltage plugged into the 110V socket mounted on the side, thus excessive idling is eliminated.

KMA-367 was the official FCC designation (call-sign, similar to radio station call-letters) for the LAPD. It was used to identify the frequency and the agency.

The "1-ADAM-12" Unit Designation was technically incorrect. There are 18 Divisions in the City of Los Angeles. Station 1 is Central Division. Two-person patrol units are designated "ADAM" Units. - I.D. #12 would be their assigned area. So, "1-ADAM-12" was a two-person patrol unit working out of Central Division. But they were shown working out of Rampart Division, which is Division 2. Technically, they should have been 2-ADAM-12, but "1-ADAM-12" had a much better sound to it and Rampart Division had just been built and was one of the newer stations at the time in 1966, besides the traffic near Central Division was a problem. There is no "12" unit designator for the Rampart Division Patrol Section either.

THEN & NOW video is from a newsreel taken from the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake and the LAPD's Communications Center then and in 2009.

Pictured: 1. Unidentified RTO (Radio Telephone Operator) from the opening of Adam-12's first two seasons. 2. LAPD Dispatch Center in the 60s & 70s. 3. The face behind the voice of the dispatcher on Adam-12, part-time voice-actress and full-time LAPD RTO (Dispatcher), Shaaron Snead.



Former LAPD Dispatch Center with the dispatchers known as RTO's (Radio Telephone Operator)     Current LAPD Dispatch Center with Public Service Representatives (formerly known as RTO's)


LAPD Dispatch Center then and now. In 2004 LAPD realigned their dispatch frequencies, and for the first time in their 3/4 of a century on the radio, every patrol and traffic division can have its own dispatch frequency and Radio Telephone Operator ("RTO"), especially during busy hours, such as on Day and PM watches.

All divisions ALWAYS operate on their assigned "base" (dispatch) frequency. Selected divisions (especially the four "traffic" divisions) will be patched together intermittently, depending on staffing, workload, special events or even immediate circumstances and incidents. The process is dynamic, in the sense that patching/unpatching can be done in any configuration deemed necessary, and at any time. Officers (and listeners) won't have to change their frequency to continue hearing calls for their division, it's all handled at the dispatch centers.

The Police Radio

Inspired by a contest in 1924, Police Chief R. Lee Heath ordered his staff to investigate the use of radio to "more quickly dispatch officers to where they are needed." It was not until Police Chief Roy E. Steckel, however, that the department would be assigned its first Federal Communications Commission license. On May 1, 1931, KGPL began broadcasting at 1712 kHz, just above the commercial radio broadcasting frequencies. Later, this was changed to 1730 kHz. Any citizen could monitor outgoing police radio traffic on their home sets. The system was "one way" until the mid-1930s when mobile transmitters were installed in patrol units.

Today, telephone calls into the department for police service are handled by the Communications Division. First, an Emergency Board Operator (EBO) answers calls placed to 9-1-1 (with a lower number of operators assigned to the non-emergency 1-877-ASK-LAPD). A call for service results in an incident number, which resets to the number 1—citywide—at midnight each night. Upon receiving the incident, the Radio Telephone Operator (RTO) will go on the air to broadcast to the division (with the option to simulcast on bureau-wide or citywide frequencies). RTOs provide the following information in what is known as a crime broadcast:

  • to whom this message is intended (a particular unit, a certain division's units, or, "all units"),
  • the type of crime that just occurred (usually by California penal code but sometimes an abbreviation, established by the Communications Division),
  • how long ago the crime occurred,
  • where,
  • a quantity of suspects (if more than one),
  • a description of the suspect(s), their clothing and/or other uniquely identifiable attributes, if available, with what they might be armed.
  • Additional details may include information about the "PR" (person reporting) or simply instructions to "monitor comments for further" (a direction to responding officers to read about the incident on their in-car Mobile Data Terminals).
  • The broadcast always concludes with a code (such as Code 3 or Code 2 for immediate response but without siren with red and blue lights), the incident number and the "RD" or reporting district (a numbered area within the division).

There may also be a request by the RTO for the responding unit handling to identify.

A fictitious example of a radio call might begin with tones (to alert patrol units that a broadcast will follow), "Any central unit, a 211 just occurred at 714 south Broadway Street at the Footlocker. Suspect was a male black, six-foot seven, approximately 280 pounds; shaved head, black eyes, goatee, white t-shirt, dark baggy pants. Weapon used was a revolver. Monitor comments for additional. Code 2. Incident number 555 in RD 193."

"Control" is the radio name for Communications division.

Officers out of their cars are able to communicate over the air using portable Motorola radios nicknamed ROVERs ("Remote Out of Vehicle Emergency Radios"). These hand-held radios are currently Motorola XTS-5000 Models With Some Motorola Astro digital SABER models still being used by very few officers and some still inside older police vehicles.


Originally, Motorola MX-series analog handheld units were used when the transition from VHF to UHF "T-band" dispatch/tactical frequencies was made in the early 1980s. Prior to that time, portable 2-way radios (known in LAPD jargon then as "CC units" as seen being used by Malloy) were either VHF or UHF, mainly Motorola HT-3rd century and HT-220's, stocked in small quantities, and used mainly by specialized units such as Metropolitan division, SWAT, SIS (Special Investigations Section) and Narcotics divisions as stakeout tools. Another use was for footbeats "FB" units, mainly in Central division, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

ROVERs are normally utility belt-mounted. For convenience, smaller, corded, hand-held microphones are plugged into these radios and then clipped to parts of the uniform shirt such as a front pocket or shoulder loop.
The 'SouthLAnd' & 'ADAM-12' Connection: Officer Sherman and Officer Sherman

(L-R) From the former TV series on NBC and then TNT Network 'SouthLAnd" actor Ben McKenzie as Officer Ben Sherman and 1970s TV idol Bobby Sherman turned real life LAPD Officer Sherman.

When Sherman guest-starred on an episode of the Jack Webb television series Emergency! ("Fools," season 3, episode 17, aired 1/19/1974), he found a new calling that focused more on his personal life, and he eventually left the public spotlight and became

an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). He soon volunteered with the LAPD,working with paramedics, and giving CPR and first aid classes. Sherman officially became a technical reserve officer with the Los Angeles Police Department in the 1990s, a position in which he still holds today. Sherman was later promoted to Captain status in the Los Angeles Police Department. For over a decade he has served as a medical training officer at the Los Angeles Police Academy, instructing thousands of police officers in first aid and CPR. He was named LAPD’s Reserve Officer of the Year in 1999.

Sherman also became a reserve Deputy Sheriff in 1999 with the San Bernardino County deputy sheriff continuing his CPR/emergency training of new deputy hires. Sherman retired from the sheriffs Department in 2010, but continues with the LAPD.

Sherman founded the Bobby Sherman Volunteer EMT Foundation. His organization coordinates medical services at many community and charity events in Southern California.


LAPD Phonetic Alphabet

A  Adam

H  Henry

O  Ocean

V  Victor

B  Boy

I  Ida

P  Paul

W  William

C  Charles

J  John

Q  Queen

X  X-ray

D  David

K  King

R  Robert

Y  Young

E  Edward

L  Lincoln

S  Sam

Z  Zebra

F  Frank

M  Mary

T  Tom


G  George

N  Nora

U  Union




The hot sheet was a simple design, an aluminum or sheet metal desk fabricated with a fold down writing surface and a bolt-on paper pad - the paper pads had holes for the screws to be placed and tightened down by a horizontal plate.

The "hot sheet" was placed between two thin pieces of Plexiglas that had a small bulb lit from the rear through the paper (the switch is to the right in the middle of the upper deck). Cheap to make and easy to maintain. The lid folded up when not in use.

LAPD HOT SHEET - Daily List Of Stolen & Wanted Vehicles


ALL license plate letter sequences used on the show (standard & commercial plates)
were non-issuable as per CA DMV regulations. On both the gold-on-black & gold-on-blue tags the letters "I" (IDA) & "O" (OCEAN) were NEVER issued next to a number to avoid confusion with the #'s 1 & 0. Thus, the tag# LXI 483 (lincoln-xray-ida) was never issued in real life.

You will notice that ALL tag #'s used on Adam-12 either ended in I or O (black plates) or started with I or O (blue plates).  CA plates are issued in order, so blue tags would have started w/ 000 AAA & so on...Commercial tags, which contained 1 letter & 5 #'s, also had only an "I" or "O" on the show.

As far as the street addresses are concerned, any cross-streets actually parallel with numbers being either too high, too low, or simply didn't exist



PIC 1: The radio as seen in the first two seasons. PIC 2: The radio as seen from Season 3 through 7. PIC 3: Reed using the Hot Sheet desk


Radio cars

Each unit is represented by an LAPD-specific callsign. Typically, a callsign is made up of three elements: the division number, the unit type and the "beat" number. For example, division 1 is Central Division (or, now, "Central Area"), an "A" is patrol unit with two officers and their beat number can be a number like 12. Such a unit would identify themselves as 1-A-12 (or 1-Adam-12, using the LAPD phonetic alphabet). Listed below are several patrol types:

  • A:  two officer patrol unit
  • D:  Special Weapons & Tactics, (SWAT)
  • E:  Ticket writing car
  • L:  One Officer unit. ( "X" or "T" units shall use the letter "L" following the regular service letter when applicable.):traffic supervisor, TL units usually carry the rank of Sergeant
  • M:  motorcycle unit (MQ: motorcycle on special assignment, MQ: DUI enforcement)
  • C or "cycle":  bicycle unit
  • CP:  Command Post
  • FB:  foot beat (foot patrol)
  • T:  traffic investigator
  • TL:  a traffic single officer car or field supervisor (a Sergeant in a Traffic Division)
  • SLO:  Senior Lead Officer
  • G:  Gang enforcement unit
  • J:  Juvenile Investigator
  • N:  Narcotics
  • R:  Metro Unit
  • W:  Detective
  • U:  Report-taking Unit (nicknamed "U-boats")
  • V:  Vice
  • OP:  Observation Post (normally, a small bus operating as a mobile command unit for major incidents)
  • Q:  Special detail (Not to be assigned radio calls. Works on a specific crime mission)
  • X:  extra patrol
  • Z:  Special detail (Not to be assigned radio calls. Works on a specific crime mission)


The following codes are used in local radio transmissions:

CODE 1   -
Acknowledge your call.
CODE 2   - Immediately (no red lights, no siren)
CODE 3   - Emergency (red lights and siren)
CODE 4   - No more help needed
CODE 4 ADAM   - No more help needed, but suspect is still in vicinity
CODE 5   - Stake out - stay away
CODE 6   - Out for investigation
CODE 6  
ADAM - May need assistance in conducting an investigation
CODE 6  
CHARLES - Officer shall remain in a position of advantage over the suspect while awaiting assistance. When control is obtained, the unit shall
request the want/warrant information from the RTO.
CODE 7   - Out to eat.
CODE 8   - Fire verified.
CODE 20 - Notify press of newsworthy event.
CODE 30  - Burglar Alarm (Code 30 Ringer or Code 30 Silent)
CODE 37  - Vehicle is Reported Stolen
CODE 77 - Caution, Possible Ambush
CODE 99 - Emergency
CODE 100 - In position to intercept
CODE A   - Regular uniform.
CODE B   - Rain. Motorcycle officer in police car.
CODE C   - Summer uniform permitted.

As heard on Adam-12...

(was later changed to CODE 6 ADAM - see above)

187 PC - Homicide
   - Robbery (211 SILENT - Silent Holdup Alarm)
240    - Assault
242    -
245    -
Assault With Deadly Weapon
246    -
Shooting in Dwelling
261    -
288    -
Lewd Conduct
311    - Indecent exposure
390   - Intoxicated person
415   - Disturbing the peace
459   - Burglary (459 SILENT - Burglar Alarm Silent)
470   - Forgery
480   - Hit and run
481   - Hit and run - Misdemeanor
484    - Theft
484 PS - Purse snatch
487   - Grand Theft
488   - Petty Theft
501   - Drunk driving felony
502   - Drunk driving
503   - Auto Theft
504   - Tampering with a vehicle
505 A - Reckless Driving
507   - Minor disturbance
510   - Speeding or racing vehicles
586   - Illegal parking
586 E - Blocking driveway
594   - Malicious mischief
653 M - Threatening phone calls

ADW - Assault with a Deadly Weapon

BACK-UP - Assist other unit

BO - Bad Order (broken, not working)

CLEAR - Available for calls

DB - Dead body

DMV - Department of Motor Vehicles.

DUCE - Drunk driver

ETA - Estimated time of arrival

EOW - End of watch

- Gone on arrival

GTA - Grand theft auto

HINKY - Nervous or suspicious

HOT SHOT - Important message

MAKE - Identification of suspect for vehicle

NARCO - Narcotic user

PACKAGE - File or record of a person

PR - Person reporting

RTO - Radio telephone operator

RUN ONE - Broadcast a description

TA - Traffic Accident (now known as
TC - Traffic Crash)

WANT - Wanted for warrants





This table will explain what those call signs mean on Adam-12, for those who don't already know. The call sign is divided into three parts, the Division, Unit and Type so 1Adam12 would be a two-officer patrol car from central division. If the last part of the call sign ends in a zero then it's probably some type of supervisor unit.
Division + Unit + Type
1 Central   Adam Two officer patrol car   10 Watch commander
2 Rampart Boy Two officer patrol van 20 Field Supervisor
3 Southwest Crash Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums 30 Field Supervisor
4 Hollenbeck 40 Field Supervisor
5 Harbor Cycle Bicycle patrol 50 Field Supervisor
6 Hollywood David Support staff 60 Field Supervisor
7 Wilshire Edward Traffic enforcement 70 Field Supervisor
8 West Los Angeles Frank Felony enforcement 80 Public Relations
9 Van Nuys FrankBoy Foot Patrol 90 Station
10 West Valley Henry Administrative Services  
11 Northeast John Juvenile Investigator
12 77th Street King Detectives
13 Newton Lincoln Lone Officer *
14 Pacific Mary Motorcycle
15 North Hollywood Paul Special events supervisor
16 Foothill Queen Special events
17 Devonshire SLO "slow" Senior Lead Officer
18 Southeast Tom Traffic Investigation
24 Central Traffic Union Report taking "U-boat"
25 South Traffic Victor Vice
34 West Traffic William Divisional detective
35 Valley Traffic X-ray Extra patrol
  Young Special services
Zebra Special patrol
* Lincoln units are single officer units. This designation can be used with other designations to show that the officer is without a partner. For example an X-Ray unit in Newton division might go by the call sign 13-XL-21.

The above codes and call signs are from the LAPD during the ADAM-12 series. Follow ADAM-12 with these official codes of the period.


WATCH NOW! A quick clip demonstrating communications from the episode 'POINT OF VIEW'





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