The idea of a professional police force emerged in the United Kingdom in the early 19th century. Sir Robert Peel, widely recognized as the pioneer of modern policing, established the Metropolitan Police, the first current police force, in London in 1829.

In this article, uncover the origins and significance of “Why Are Police Called 12.” Explore the meaning behind this term.

The formation of the police force aimed to establish a professional and well-structured approach to enforcing the law, implementing public policies, and maintaining order in urban areas. However, what could be the origin or reason behind the term “12” to refer to the police?

Primarily prevalent in the Southern regions of the United States, particularly Atlanta and Georgia, the number 12 is a slang commonly used to refer to police officers. The reasons behind the popularity of such slang terms in these states are not easily discernible.

Nevertheless, utilizing the period “12” to denote police officers might have gained traction primarily in the Southern States, owing to its inclusion in rap music and other forms of popular culture originating from that region. The phrase has become widely prevalent online and in everyday conversations.

Why are Cops Called 12 and 50?

Why Are Police Called 12

In the Southern States of America, it is common for police officers to be referred to as “12” by many individuals. “12” is often used to express a critical perspective on the historically violent nature of law enforcement in the United States.

Where Did the Slang “12” Originate From? 

The origin of the slang term “12” to refer to the police is not completely clear, and while several theories exist, there is no definitive explanation for its widespread use. However, a few answers have gained acceptance due to their likelihood.

A widely accepted answer suggests that the phrase’s origin traces back to using the police radio code system 10-12. This particular code was employed to notify police officers of the presence of civilians within the vicinity they were patrolling. 

Why Are Police Called 12

Formulated during the 1930s, this system aimed to establish uniformity in radio communications among law enforcement personnel.

Another hypothesis proposes that the origin of “12” is associated with the popular television series Adam-12. This show, broadcast in the late 1960s and early 1970s, depicted two police officers navigating the streets of Los Angeles in their patrol car, identified as 1-Adam-12.

According to an alternative theory, 12 specifically references law enforcement officers involved in narcotics-related activities. Supporters of this explanation often point to the rap song “F**k 12” by Migos as the primary evidence. The music includes the lyrics, “Throw that s–t, aye throw that s–t, 12 outside.”

The message suggests discarding illegal drugs to evade detection by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Over time, this phrase has become popular as a means to quickly notify a group of people about the presence of law enforcement officers. 

Renowned rappers like Gucci Mane and Quavo have incorporated the term “F*** 12” into their influential music, contributing to its popularity in pop culture.

Although the term “12” is commonly employed to notify individuals of law enforcement presence, the number “50” is primarily linked to the television series Hawaii 5-O. This popular show aired from 1968 to 1980 and was filmed in Hawaii, revolving around the fictional activities of the Five-O state police force. 

2010 a revamped edition of the beloved Hawaii 5-0 TV series was introduced. This new version brought fresh updates to the setting and characters while preserving the iconic name of the original show. The fictional police force within the series, now called Five-O, led to the gradual emergence of the abbreviation 5-0. 

Over time, the term “5-0” has gained popularity as a reference to police officers, especially within urban communities in the United States. However, the term’s connotation can vary depending on the context and the speaker’s intentions, either positively or negatively.

What Does “12” Mean in Slang?

The number 12 holds great significance in numerous cultures. Various examples portray its importance, such as the 12 months comprising a year, the 12 hours marking a complete cycle on a clock face, the presence of 12 zodiac signs, and the 12 apostles within the Christian tradition.

Within specific numerology systems, 12 is often linked to notions of wholeness and flawlessness. In slang, numbers are occasionally employed to express words or ideas more concisely and effectively. 

Utilizing the number 12 in informal speech can prove highly advantageous, mainly when time and conciseness play pivotal roles. Consequently, interpreting the number 12 in slang may vary across diverse cultures. 

Nevertheless, within the 10-12 police code framework, 12 signified “stand by,” a frequently employed expression on police radio frequencies.

When Did Police Become 12? 

In the late 1960s, people started referring to officers as “12,” this expression quickly gained popularity in mainstream culture. Nowadays, the term is commonly used on the streets to promptly alert civilians that the police have arrived or are en route, allowing them to escape or avoid interaction with law enforcement.

Why Are Police Called 12?

In recent years, the phrase has gained significant popularity because of its crucial role in notifying the public about the presence of law enforcement. 

Nonetheless, the precise origins of the words remain unclear, giving rise to multiple theories. Among these theories, a commonly proposed explanation suggests that the term originated from utilizing police radio codes, specifically systems 10-12 developed in the 1930s.