This glossary is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all law enforcement jargon, or technical legal terms. Rather the purpose is to give a brief description of the terms you might commonly see used in our reports, or hear in conversations with the patrol or others involved in public safety.
More information is available about Georgia State Codes here.
More information is available about City of Atlanta Codes here.
Another glossary with more terms can be found here.

10 Codes

At one time numeric and alphanumeric codes were commonly used by law enforcement agencies for quick communication over radio. For example 10-4 was used to acknowledge and terminate a communication and code 3 indicated to proceed with lights and sirens. The Atlanta Police Department has discontinued use of codes in favor of plain language communication. Rather than asking an officer's 10-20, dispatch or another officer will simply ask "where are you"?

Abandoned Auto

Abandoned autos are those that are left on private property for two days or public property for three days with no attempt at recovery or indication that the owner intends to return. If the owner leaves a note saying they intend to return and the vehicle has been in place for five days or is so damaged that recovery is unlikely, the vehicle may be considered abandoned


Assault can refer to simple assault or aggravated assault. A person commits assault when they commit a violent injury to another person or commits and act that causes another to have a reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury. With a few exceptions, such simple assaults are punished as misdemeanors. A person commits aggravated assault where there is intent to murder, rape or rob; or when a deadly weapon is used. In general aggravated assault is punished with not less than one year or more than 20 years in prison. There are several conditions which can increase the punishment, such as committing the assault on a law enforcement officer.

Alarm Response

When a residential or business security alarm that is monitored is triggered, and the monitoring company can not reach the owner to verify the status, police are dispatched. If the situation turns out to be a false alarm, the owner may be fined as this response takes valuable time away from other police duties. Since VHSP officers are able to monitor police dispatch calls on their radio, they will often also respond to an alarm - sometimes before the on-duty dispatched officer.

Auto Theft

The theft of automobiles are tracked distinctly from other thefts. See Theft by Taking below.


In Georgia a person commits simple battery when he intentionally makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with another person, or intentionally causes physical harm to another. Simple battery is generally punished as a misdemeanor.
A person commits battery when he intentionally causes substantial physical harm or visible bodily harm to another. Visible bodily harm means harm that can be perceived by someone other than the victim - for example blackened eyes, swelling, and other bruises.
A person commits the offense of aggravated battery when he or she maliciously causes bodily harm to another person and if their action causes the loss of use of a portion of the body, or serious disfigurement of a portion of the body.


A beat is a geographical patrol area within APD. Virginia Highland is contained within Beat 601 which is a part of Zone 6.


A burglary occurs when someone enters or remains within a dwelling or building without permission with the intent to commit a felony or theft. In a burglary, the victim is not present when the crime occurs. This is distinct from a robbery in which property is stolen directly from the victim through force or threat of force.

Call for Service

For the purposes of the patrol, a call for service occurs any time a member calls the cell phone and asks the officer on duty for assistance.

Citizen's CourtWatch

Citizen's CourtWatch is a program that educations the public about the court system and facilitates participation in the system through appearance at hearings, and giving citizen's a voice regarding the impact a particular criminal has had on the community.

Citizen's Police Academy

The Citizens' Police Academy provides the opportunity to learn how the police department operates and to give feedback to enhance police and community relations. Participants learn about departmental procedures as well as the units that make up the department. Units such as K-9, 911 call center, internal affairs, etc. are presented. Students also participate in a zone ride-along.

Crime Stats

Crime statistics are the numbers reported by police for the number of crimes committed in a particular geographic area during a particular time. typically the numbers will be compared to the same time period a year earlier.
These numbers can be informative, but can also be misleading if not interpreted correctly. For example if one locality has one murder in year one and two murders in year two, you could say that that area has experienced a 100% increase in crime. Another nearby locality might have 27 murders in year one and 13 murders in year two, which could be stated as a 50% decrease in crime. However, the second location still experienced far more murders than location one in both years. For the purpose of comparing one location to another, the percentage of increase or decrease can present a skewed view.

Crime Stoppers

Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta is a community based organization that promotes citizen involvement in public safety by educating residents about crime prevention and providing cash incentives for anonymous information that helps law enforcement solve crimes. The program is a a partnership between the Atlanta Police Foundation and the Atlanta Police Department. Find more information here.

Criminal Trespass

A person commits criminal trespass when he intentionally damages another person's property without consent of the owner, and the damage is less than $500, or knowingly and maliciously interferes with the possession or use of the property of another by that person.
It is also criminal trespass to enter onto another's property for any unlawful purpose, or if notice is given prior to entering that the owner does not give permission, or if upon entry is asked to leave.

Directed Patrols

A directed patrol occurs when a supervisor directs an officer to patrol a particular area more than usual due to recent or anticipated criminal activity. For example officers might be directed to patrol the alley between St. Charles and Ponce de Leon a set number of times per shift as a way to deter illegal activity in the alley.

Drop In/Park and Walk

As part of a  VHSP Officer's normal routine, they park their vehicle and walk around the neighborhood, dropping in on businesses that are open. The purpose of this activity is to proactively build relationships, deter crime by being highly visible, and to look in areas that are not easily accessible from a vehicle.

Member Contact

Our patrol keeps track of all member contacts. These are instances where an officer meets with a member in response to a call to the cell phone, email request, or in response to a 911 call. The meeting could be to evaluate the member's property for any security concerns, to follow up on an incident, etc.


In general, a felony is a crime punishable by more than 12 months in prison and up to life in prison or death. Felony convictions here or in other states can impact mandatory sentencing

Found Property

Often when a thief breaks into an automobile, a home, or steals a package off a porch, they will quickly get out of sight then go through what they have grabbed and discard anything they can't sell or that is too large to easily conceal. Because of this it is not uncommon to find empty purses, laptop bags, gym bags etc. discarded around the neighborhood. Our officers may find these items, or they may be called to the location of such items by a member. In these cases, the officer will take possession of the property and either inventory it as evidence or attempt to return it to the rightful owner.


All murders are homicides, but not all homicides are murders. Homicide can refer to murder, felony murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter.

A person commits the offense of murder when he unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied, causes the death of another human being. Malice is express when prior intent can be proved, and implied when there is no considerable provocation.
A person can be charged with Felony Murder if a death occurs during the commission of another felony (such as a robbery). In this case, the intent to murder does not need to be proved, but the intent to commit the underlying felony does. For example if someone robs a store at gunpoint, and the gun accidentally discharges killing the store clerk. The robber is guilty of felony murder. The penalty for felony murder can be death, life without parole, or life with the possibility of parole.
A person commits the offense of voluntary manslaughter when he causes the death of another when there has been serious provocation which might cause a reasonable person to commit such a crime, but where sufficient time has passed for the person to see reason. In this case the murder is attributed to revenge and not passion. The penalty for voluntary manslaughter is not less than one or more than twenty years.
A person commits the offense of involuntary manslaughter when he causes the death of another human being during the commission of another unlawful act other than a felony, but without any intention to cause death. The penalty for involuntary manslaughter is not less than one year and not more than ten years. A person can also be charged with involuntary manslaughter when a person in killed as the result of a lawful act committed in an unlawful manner. In this case the person will be punished as if for a misdemeanor.

Intoxicated Person

For the purpose of the patrol, a report of an intoxicated person might not result in a sobriety test or charges. Generally unless the person commits some additional crime such as property damage, assault, etc, the concern of the patrol is to see that the individual does not injure himself or anyone else.


Larceny is what most people think of as common theft: it is the taking of someone else's property without the use of force from a location other than inside their home. For example, when someone leaves a purse or cellphone unattended in a coffee shop and someone else takes that property, they have committed larceny.


See Homicide

Noise Complaint

The City of Atlanta has very specific ordinances related to noise. Certain activities such as lawn mowing, construction work, etc. can not begin before 7:00 am on a weekday or 9:00 am on the weekend or a legal holiday, for example. Members of the patrol can call on our patrol officers to intervene if the music from a nearby party is too loud or going on too late at night. Refer to the link above to search the City of Atlanta Code of Ordinances for detailed information on what is acceptable and what is not. In general you should not have to be disturbed within your home by noise emanating from another property. At the same time, good neighbors need to be tolerant within reason about the occasional celebration or event.

Out of Town Check

One of the benefits of membership in VHSP is that an officer will check on your home. This means that the officer will park his vehicle on the street, exit the vehicle and walk around the perimeter of your home and property to make sure that nothing looks out of order. By providing a contact number to the patrol, if they do see something that seems wrong, they can contact you.

Parking Complaint

A parking complaint might be a vehicle blocking a driveway, parked in a crosswalk, in front of a fire hydrant, or in some other way illegally or dangerously parked. These are generally non-emergency issues, so \members will often call the patrol if on duty to address the problem. Because patrol officers are all sworn APD officers, they can both ticket the driver, and if necessary call for the vehicle to be towed.

Part One Crimes

Part one crimes are generally felonies and are the serious crimes that are reported to the FBI and used to compare crime levels between different jurisdictions. These include homicide, rape, assault, general larceny, Residential and Commercial burglary, auto theft, vehicular related larceny (theft from auto), and robbery.


A perpetrator is an individual who has been convicted of a crime. On television we often hear a suspect referred to as a perpetrator or a "perp", but this is not a correct use of the term. Until someone has been convicted through the judicial process, they should only be referred to as a suspect.


In Georgia rape has a somewhat narrow definition. Only a man can commit rape, and only of a woman without consent or with a young girl. Other illegal sexual acts are classified as sodomy (seldom enforced) or sexual battery (i.e. a sex act between two men without consent). Statutory rape is defined as sex with a person who is under 16 years of age. In the case of children, specific child molestation statutes apply.
However, the FBI collects data via the Uniform Crime Reporting system using a broader definition which includes most sex crimes. This is the standard used for reporting of part one crimes by APD.

Ride Along

A ride along is an opportunity for a civilian to ride in a patrol car with an officer for an eight hour shift and see first hand what it is like to do the job. To make arrangements for a ride along, contact the Zone in which you want to ride. There is some minimal paperwork required before the ride-along is scheduled.


Robbery is defined by the FBI as the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear. This is in contrast to a burglary where the theft does not occur in the presence of a victim. Though a robbery is a theft, it is a more serious crime because it is aggravated by the use of force or the threat of force.

Shots Fired

When a member reports that they heard gun shots, that doesn't necessarily mean that shots were, in fact, fired. As we all have learned, sometimes that sound is just fireworks. When patrol officers report shots fired, this is a verified incident of the discharge of a firearm.

Street Obstruction

A street obstruction could be anything from a fallen tree or telephone pole, to an overturned vehicle.


When an individual is identified by police as the person who they believe has committed a crime, he will be identified as a suspect. Once the person is convicted, he will be termed a perpetrator. Prior to establishing sufficient proof to charge an individual, they are often described as a person of interest.

Suspicious Person

For the purposes of the patrol, a suspicious person report is one in which a member reports someone who is behaving strangely or appears out of place. For example someone who appears to be hiding in bushes or walking down the street slowly trying to see into all of the parked cars and trying door handles would be considered suspicious. A person is not considered suspicious just because you do not recognize them or because of appearance such as race or age.

Suspicious Vehicle

For the purposes of the patrol, a suspicious vehicle report is one in which a member reports a vehicle that seems out of place. For example an unrecognized vehicle with out of state plates that has been parked in front of your house for several days, or a vehicle that has been up and down your street several times moving slowly as if casing the residences, would be considered suspicious and warrant a call.

Theft by Taking

Theft is the legal term used in Georgia state law for larceny. The most common type of theft in the code is theft by taking which is defined as occurring when a person "unlawfully takes or, being in lawful possession thereof, unlawfully appropriates any property of another with the intention of depriving him of the property, regardless of the manner in which property is taken or appropriated". The code also provides for other types of theft, such as: theft by deception, and theft by receiving stolen property.

Theft from Auto

Theft from Auto is a larceny that is specific to taking items without express permission from someone else's vehicle. This type of larceny is tracked separately from other thefts or larcenies in Atlanta.

Uniform Crime Reporting

Uniform crime reporting is a collective effort on the part of city, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies to present a nationwide view of crime. Agencies throughout the country participating in the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program provide summarized reports on eight Part I offenses known to law enforcement and reports on persons arrested. They also provide information about law enforcement officers killed and assaulted and on hate crime. For the most part, agencies submit crime reports monthly to a centralized crime records facility within their state. The state UCR Program then forwards the data, using uniform offense definitions, to the FBI’s national UCR Program. The FBI compiles, publishes, and distributes the data to participating agencies, state UCR Programs, and others interested in the Nation’s crime data. For more information about Uniform Crime Reporting, you can access the FBI handbook here. This document also contains a glossary with more terms.

Vehicular Related Larceny

See Theft from Auto

Wanted Person

A wanted person might be one who has outstanding warrants issued by a judge, in which case the individual may be arrested. A person might also be wanted for questioning in connection with a crime. In this case they would not be arrested, but might be taken to a police location to meet with an investigator.


A zone is a geographic patrol area within APD. Zones are made up of beats. There are six zones within APD and Virginia Highland beat 601 is contained with Zone 6. Find more information here.