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WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (KDVR) – Detectives sometimes use Urban Dictionary to translate slang when investigating deadly gun crimes.

Pole, strap, gat, drill, stick, glizzy and metal are all words used to describe guns.

A “stain” is another word for a robbery, according to Andy McDermott, a former Aurora detective who led multiple gun investigations during his police career.

“Some of it is stylization, or it’s cool, kind of like an ‘in thing’ to have these different words for firearms. Some of it is to conceal what they’re talking about,” he said.

McDermott now works for Nighthawk Ascend, a technology company with law enforcement tools and software programs that can be used for digital investigations and analyses.

Detectives analyze slang to solve murder

The Problem Solvers obtained arrest documents from a 2020 Jefferson County murder in which a crime analyst reported using the crowdsourced, online dictionary, Urban Dictionary, to identify slang terms and cultural expressions.

Here are some translations the analyst flagged during an investigation into the shooting death of Nimiajh Pimentel Sifuentes, a 16-year-old boy who was robbed by a group of other teens and murdered.

Note: Urban Dictionary often contains vulgar content with explicit descriptions. The following definitions have been edited for content.

  • Alr: alright (already)
  • Band: $1,000
  • Bbg: beautiful baby girl
  • Beam: $100
  • Book: Facebook
  • Bill: $100
  • Cap: to lie or say something false
  • Fr: for real
  • Hyu: hit you up
  • Ion: I don’t
  • Nvm: never mind
  • Tn: tonight
  • Whip: car
  • Wtw: what’s the word
  • Yk: you know

How this slang is used

In one Facebook Messenger chat between the victim and a teen who was charged in his shooting death, a detective reported this conversation in which a teen girl asks about buying a gun:

  • “You selling poles?”
  • “Ye”
  • “What you got I need one ASAP”
  • “I got a little .45”
  • “Send flicks”

In another conversation, two teen boys are talking about the price of a gun:

  • “You kno anybody who gots a pole for sale? The most I’m tryna spend is 550.”
  • “I got poles why wassup”
  • “What kind”
  • “Who told you I had poles”
  • “I seen you comment on ah post”

Later, the seller told the inquiring buyer, “I want 5 bills but you gotta get rounds.”

Social media impacting gun talk among teens

Social media plays a significant role in gun buying, trading and selling, McDermott said.

“I think what it’s done is it has expanded the ability, or the reach, for people to market in crime guns,” he said.

Sheryl Berry, Jefferson County chief deputy district attorney, told the Problem Solvers she has observed teens using social media to flaunt their weapons as well.

“They don’t hesitate to post themselves on social media holding guns, pointing guns – as if it’s glamorous,” she said.

McDermott showed the Problem Solvers multiple photos of teens advertising weapons online. He also shared a Facebook message he recovered from a gun case he investigated.

The message, entitled, “Metal on the Market” went out to at least 999 different people, he said.

“Before social media, if you wanted to buy, trade or sell something, you had to know that person and find where you were going to meet them. The communication was probably by cell phone only. Now, you can blast it out to the masses, and people you don’t even know will respond and engage in that transaction with you, so that gun’s passed on,” McDermott said.