Allegheny County (PA) Pittsburgh City Police Codes and Unit Numbering, On-Air Call Signs

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City of Pittsburgh Police Codes

  • Code 1 - Backup requested. Proceed promptly. No lights/siren
  • Code 2 - Backup requested. Proceed immediately. Lights/siren only when necessary
  • Code 3 - Backup requested. Proceed immediately. Full lights/siren. All available units. Officer down or injured
  • Code 4 - Situation is "under control" - no further assistance is necessary
  • Code 5 - Person with outstanding arrest warrant OR stolen vehicle
  • Code ZEBRA - Taser deployed
  • Code RED - Prisoner missing/unaccounted-for/escaped
  • Class 1 - Suspected explosive device found
  • Class 2 - Bomb threat communication received

In regard to Class 1 and Class 2 events, they can be independent of one another or combined in a single event.

  • Class 1 - Suspected explosive device found, but NO bomb threat communicated.
  • Class 2 - Bomb threat communication received, but NO suspected explosive device found.
  • Class 1 & 2 - Suspected explosive device found AND bomb threat communication received.
  • CONFIRMED Class 1 - Device has been CONFIRMED to be an explosive device.

City of Pittsburgh Police On-Air Call Signs

Note: SWAT call signs, including the TAC and Mike series are covered in the SWAT Operations Wiki section.

Four Digit On-Air Call Signs - Zone Level: Unit on-air call signs for Zone Police Stations 1 thru 6 (PC = Patrol Car, UC = Undercover Car). Note that the "Unit Number" may or may not match the "Vehicle Number". The Unit Number is the on-air designator or call sign. The Vehicle Number is the number on the vehicle's bumper:

3xy# = (First digit is always "3" for City of Pittsburgh Police units - Note: Often times the initial "3" is dropped on-air for simplicity.

 x    = (1 to 6 - Police patrol zone.  Pittsburgh is divided into six zones)
   y# = Unit Type "y" is third digit / Unit Number "#" is fourth digit
                  (00 - Zone Bldg Desk officer )
                  (01 to 09 - Patrol Van/Wagon, two officers)
                  (10 to 19 - PC, two or more officers)
                  (20 to 39 - PC, one officer)
                  (40 to 49 - PC, beat officer) 
                  (50 to 59 - Beat officer, may or may not have a PC, special
                              assignment, e.g. downtown holiday season beats)
                  (60 to 69 - UC, two uniformed officers, low risk search/arrest
                              warrants, animal cruelty cases, station details)
                  (70 to 79 - UC, Zone Detective, plain clothes, 
                              officer specific call sign)
                  (80 - PC, Lieutenant. Note that the call sign does not change
                              when the Lieutenant on duty changes)
                  (81 to 83 - PC, Shift Sergeant in charge - Appears to be officer
                              specific as units can be heard working different shifts)
                  (84 to 89 - PC, major crime scene / specific operation Sergeant)
                  (90 to 98 - UC, two officers, plain clothes, 
                              specific operation or targeted area)
                  (99 - UC, two officers, plain clothes, normal patrol work,
                              one unit per Zone)
 There may be an additional identifier following the four digit call sign:
           "3xy# K" - The "K" refers to a canine unit.
           "3xy# R" - The "R" indicates a rookie officer is in the vehicle, which is
                      only used during ride-along portion of Police Academy training.
           "3xy# Able" or "3xy# A" - The "Able" or "A" is used to identify a two or
                      more officer unit that has been reduced to a single officer.
 Note: Occasionally, the officers of a two officer unit may become separated while
       on a call.  In such case, they may try to reach each other over the radio
       as, "3xy# A to B".  Obviously they are still a two officer unit and the "A"
       has nothing to do with the "Able" designator.
 For four digit call signs at the Zone level, with last two digits "y#" = 01 to 49,
 note the following:
            * A unit working the "early side" of the shift (see below) will have an
              odd last number ("#") - 1, 3, 5, 7, 9
            * A unit working the "late side" of the shift (see below) will have an
              even last number ("#") - 2, 4, 6, 8, 0 
 Shift Scheduling (24 hour clock)
                     Early Side     Late Side	
       AM Shift        07 - 15       08 - 16
       PM Shift        15 - 23       16 - 24
       Night Turn      23 - 07       24 - 08
 Note:  Split shift is from 04 - 12, 12 - 20, and 20 - 04.  Split shift appears to be
        primarily UC type vehicles and PC's staffed with two officers.

On-air call signs, or Unit Numbers, generally match the physical car Vehicle Numbers most of the time. The general vehicle line-up by Zone (with physical Vehicle Numbers in parenthesis) is two Patrol Vans/Wagons (3x01 and 3x02), two dual officer PC's (3x10 & 3x11), eleven single officer PC's (3x20 thru 3x30), one canine PC (3x1K), one lieutenant PC (3x80), three shift sergeant PC's (3x81 thru 3x83), two floater PC's (3x91 & 3x92), two Zone Detective UC's (NA), and one UC for patrol work (NA), for a total of 25 vehicles. As an example, if they decide they need an additional two officer PC and the two allocated PC's are already in service, they simply place one of the single officer PC's, or a floater vehicle, in service with an appropriate on-air call sign, or Unit Number, for a two officer PC. The two floater vehicles (3x91 & 3x92) will never have a matching on-air call sign as they are PC's and an on-air call sign with a 91 or 92 as the last two numbers would indicate an UC unit. An "X" within a vehicle's bumper number would indicate it is a motor pool replacement (regular Zone unit in motor pool for maintenance}.

Also, note that Mount Oliver has its own police units, but they utilize the City of Pittsburgh dispatch system. Mount Oliver units are dispatched on City of Pittsburgh Police's Channel 2. Their unit numbers consist of four digits, the first two of which are "42". The last two digits follow the City of Pittsburgh convention detailed above.

Four Digit Call Signs - HQ Level: HQ unit on-air call signs. All call signs are officer specific 3x## = (First digit is always "3" for City of Pittsburgh Police units)

x   = (0 - UC, special HQ call sign, reserved for assignments such as targeted
      narcotics investigations and Presidential/dignitary security)
      (7 - UC, can be one or more officers, plain clothes - primarily Narcotics/Vice)
      (8 - UC, HQ Detective, plain clothes)
 ## = Unit Number

Five Digit Call Signs - Zone and HQ Level: Combined descriptors for Zone and HQ call signs. All call signs are officer specific (Note: Only includes primary 5 digit call signs heard)

    31988 = Lieutenant in charge of traffic related details for sporting events,
            PC (2nd digit = Zone, 3rd = detail, 4th = LT/Sgt designator)
    3x6## = Third digit "6" indicates bicycle officer.  Currently, there are four
            such officers (33626-33629) assigned to Zone 3 (x = 3)
    381## = HQ Homicide Detective, UC, plain clothes
    382## = HQ Robbery Detective, UC, plain clothes
    384## = HQ Arson Detective, UC, plain clothes
    385## = HQ Burglary Detective, UC, plain clothes
    3x9## = Five digit call sign WITH LETTER as fourth digit (3x9A# thru 3x9Z#)
            indicates paid off-duty private detail officer, e.g. club security
            (x =  Zone 1 through 6)

Note: It appears that five digit call signs are only partially implemented. Primarily used at HQ level to differentiate 38xy series Detectives by function. I expect that there are more five digit call signs and that the fourth digit can most likey be decoded.

The following units are assigned to the Special Deployment Division ("SDD"):

    3SR#     = PC, Street Response Unit "SRU", which patrols high crime/street level
               drug trafficking areas (Physical vehicles, 3SR1 - 3SR5)
    SR81-83  = PC, SRU, Shift Sergeant in charge (Note: 1st digit "3" dropped, but
               still Police; Physical vehicle, SR81)
    SR90-99  = UC, SRU, spotter vehicles for Street Response PC's 
               (Note: 1st digit "3" dropped, but still Police)
    3TS#     = "TS" indicates "Truck Safety" unit.  Activities focused on commercial
    3T##     = "T" or "Traffic" indicates Traffic Division.  Special traffic patrol
    3Cycle## = Police Motorcycles
    3Bike##  = Police Bicycles

Other on-air call signs:

    3800     = Detective desk (monitors Channel 8)
    39##     = Various Academic, University, School type police. This includes
               Pittsburgh School Police (396#), Duquesne University (395#),
               University of Pittsburgh, etc. (Separate and distinct legal entities
               from City of Pittsburgh Police)
    3SW#     = Weed & Seed grant funded unit - UC, two officers, plain clothes
    3K81     = Canine supervisor, assigned to HQ
    TAC##    = Pittsburgh Police SWAT team member call signs.  Each officer has their
               own designator, e.g. TAC30, TAC43, etc.	
    TAC71    = Pittsburgh Police SWAT Sergeant in charge of tactical operation.
               Works in conjunction with TAC76
    Mike#    = When TAC## operator is assigned to a mission, call sign is changed to
               Mike1, Mike2, etc.
    BEAR     = Pittsburgh Police SWAT armored vehicle	
    H#       = State Police Helicopter, e.g. H5.  Note that there are variations that
               may be used such as H#, Helio#, Trooper#
    MC##     = McGann & Chester tow trucks.  Dispatched on Channel 4
    EOC      = Emergency Operations Center
    EOD1     = Primary Explosives Ordnance Demolition "EOD" vehicle
    Checkpoint## = Traffic control points primarily used in Southside on weekends as
                   part of saturation patrols
    Official##   = Reserved for various political officials and department heads.
                   Approximately 35 call signs in total, but most are rarely heard
                   on-air.  For security reasons, I believe it is prudent NOT to
                   provide a detailed list by name.  The purpose of these call signs
                   is to allow these individuals to be anonymous.

Note: On an infrequent basis, I have picked up certain 7000 series call signs. Those call signs have been primarily used in conjunction with SWAT call-outs. On occasion, I have also heard those units respond to calls at the Zone level. But in those instances, it appeared as though they were responding on their own accord to lend an assist. The Zone calls they responded to were always serious in nature and time sensitive. So my consensus is that the 7000 series call signs are special purpose headquarters units that are involved in narcotics interdiction, surveillance or tactical operations.

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