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1.5. What the heck does "skel" mean? How about "PAA"? (NYPD Blue)


This article is from the NYPD Blue FAQ, by Dave Chapman, Alan Sepinwall and Jeff Knapp with numerous contributions by others.

1.5. What the heck does "skel" mean? How about "PAA"? (NYPD Blue)

The show features a lot of police slang and terminology that may be
confusing to the average citizen. So, to make your viewing
experience easier and more informative, here's a brief glossary of
police slang. Some of it was compiled by me, but the bulk of it
(everything from "Boss" on) comes from the book "NYPD: On the
streets with the New York City Police Department's Emergency
Services Unit," by Samuel L. Katz. (ISBN 0-7603-0186-7, Motorbooks
International, Osceola, Wisconsin. $19.95) NOTE: Some of these
terms haven't showed up yet on the show, but I'm including them in
case they do.

Short-hand for "skeleton"; i.e., what most drug-users wind up
looking like. A derogatory term used to describe low-life
junkies. Also refers to homeless vagrants.

From the book "The City in Slang, New York Life and Popular
Speech," by Irving Lewis Allen (1993): The New York police
today call the most vagrant of the male homeless skells.
William Safire informs us that "it is a shortening of skellum
meaning a rascal or thief, akin to a skelder, 'to beg on the
streets,' first used in print by Ben Johnson in 1599, just
after the playwright got out of jail for killing a man in a
duel; it is possible he picked up the word from cellmate's
argot." The word popped up about 1935 in the short form skell,
suggesting that skellum/skell had underground oral use for
centuries. Skell is now in popular speech to denote the
homeless that are so visible throughout the city.

Principal Administrative Assistant; also Police Administrative

Internal Affairs Bureau, the branch of the police that
investigates other cops

Traditionally means "dead on arrival"; here it's used to
refer to just about any dead person, murdered or otherwise

(1) your ass; "He's gotta bust my hump over this petty crap?";
(2) a moron; "That stupid hump scratched my car!"

Influence; i.e., veteran cops like Sipowicz and Simone have
lots of juice at other precincts when their friends get in

Reaching Out
Can mean anything from just contacting someone to trying to
convince them to help the cops to seeing if they need help

Lawyering Up
A suspect's decision to stop answering questions and ask for
legal counsel.

The House
Shorthand term for the stationhouse

Baseball metaphors used to describe the system by which cases
are assigned; e.g., Simone caught that murder in Chinatown
because he was up

Riding DA
The Assistant District Attorney assigned to a particular
precinct; Sylvia is usually the Riding DA at the 15, but her
pregnancy has caused her to cut back on her work, and ADA
Cohen has filled in on occasion.

Term for senior officers, from lieutenant (in certain units)
to captain, deputy inspector, inspector and commissioner.


Civilian Complaint Review Board

Central Dispatch

Crime Scene Unit

Dee Wee
Phonetic for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated).

Street slang for a Detective.

Emotionally Disturbed Person, the politically-correct way to
what was once referred as a "psycho".

Emergency Medical Services, which technicians, often
overworked, underpaid and unappreciated sometimes dub "Every
Minute Sucks".

Emergency Services Unit; the NYPD SWAT team.

NYPD's Fugitive Apprehension Team.

Street slang for police (obviously influenced by a now-defunct
TV cop show).

Flying; to fly
Leaving the confines of one's usual precinct in order to fill
in for a shortage of manpower in another precinct or location.

Go down, to
Getting arrested.

Good people
All-purpose NYPD compliment meaning 'kosher', nice, reliable,
etc., irrespective of race, religion or sexual orientation.

Gun run
Search for a weapon reported sighted in the hands of a "perp".

Tactical assault on a criminal location.

Service in the NYPD, as in "I've been on the job five years."

Lou, Loo, Lieu
Affectionate slang for 'lieutenant'

Member of the Service (police officer); used on the radio.

Unauthorized term for "perp".

Unauthorized term for "perp".

Organized Crime

One PP
One Police Plaza, NYPD Headquarters in downtown Manhattan.
Open carrier: Police officer or vehicle with an open radio. -
Package: Escorted prisoner or VIP.

Paying the rent
For police officers, the handing out of a certain number of
traffic summonses and moving violations.

Perpetrator, criminal

Puzzle Palace
Police Officer's term for One Police Plaza.

An individual's guide and guardian angel in the department.

Rat squad
Officers and detectives assigned to Internal Affairs Bureau

Red Menace
Unofficial term for members of the Fire Department of the City
of New York (FDNY), also known as "Rubbermen", a term of
affection and respect for those members.

Loss in pay due to a disciplinary infraction, such as
unauthorized moonlighting.

Radio Mobile Patrol, the NYPD blue and white 'sector' car

Subdivision within a precinct, which covers several blocks. A
sector car is assigned to patrol the area (see RMP above).

Special Narcotics and Guns Unit.

Special Narcotics Enforcement Unit.

Special Operations Division.

Short for 'detective squad', attached to the specific

Technical and Research Unit

Tunnel Rats
NYPD Transit Bureau (the subway cops).

White Shirts
Term for lieutenants and above, who wear white uniform shirts.


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