How To Buy A Police Scanner
Scanners give you a live feed of the public safety activity in your area, granted you have the ability to hear police reports, EMS calls, firefighter activity, weather alerts, and more.
Police scanners are one of the best worst-kept secrets in the history of modern technology.
Scanners a powerful means of keeping tabs on all public agencies in your city. They are relatively simple to obtain, use, and set up.
Most people use police scanners to monitor the law enforcement, fire, and EMS activity in their local area, as well as stay up-to-date on severe weather or emergency alerts.
In the olden days of scanning, this was as easy as switching on an analog scanner and waiting for the calls to roll in.
However, as Bob Dylan famously said, things have changed.
Advances in radio technology and digital systems have made finding the right scanner for your area is slightly more complicated than it used to be.
The good news is we’re here to help!
This guide was designed to guide you through picking the best police scanner for your specific area and needs.
Why Should You Get A Police Scanner
The best police scanners allow you to stay in the know by scanning multiple radio frequencies quickly and letting you listen in on whats called the action bands. However, these tools have applications beyond listening to police communications. Scanners receive transmissions from police, fire departments, air traffic controls, railroads, racing events, the Coast Guard and other services that rely on two-way radio communications. There is a lot you can pick up when you use the right radio scanner.
Staying updated on the happenings with the police in your local area is a smart idea. But police scanners also give you the inside scoop on local events before it hits the news. When police are reporting to a potential disaster or dangerous situation, itll hit their scanners before anywhere else. If youre listening in, you can be the first to avoid those areas. Thats news thats even faster than Twitter!
Updates on weather and road conditions can be incredibly helpful. Sometimes a storm can roll in so quickly that you wont even realize it until you are in the middle of it. And that can turn into a real disaster if you live in an area with tornados or other natural disasters. Youll also hear accident reports over the scanner that can alert you to steer clear of a certain highway or street, so you dont get stuck in traffic.
Whistler Ws 1025 Police Scanner
ANALOG DESKTOP MODEL
Looking for a police scanner for the bunker in your basement or one for your nightstand? The Whistler WS 1025 is an analog model that gives users complete control over scanning the airways. You can dial this police scanner in to be incredibly efficient by using the lock-out feature which omits any frequencies that are dead air. You can also set priority channels, which will jump back to the channel and check it every two seconds. But if you really want to go deep into the programming, you can use your PC to help program scan, and even backup your data.
Pros: Small, compact design thats perfect for keeping on your desk, easy to set priority channels and can hook up to your PC for deeper scanning.
Cons: Antennae may have trouble picking up a signal in your area, depending on where you live.
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What Customers Are Saying
With over 1,400 reviews on Amazon, customers are largely satisfied with the Whistler TRX-1. Only 11 percent of reviewers rate this digital scanner 1 out of 5 stars, while on the other hand, 63 percent of reviewers rate the product a perfect 5 stars. About 77 percent of reviewers rate this police scanner 4 stars or higher a testament to the overall customer satisfaction.
Individual reviews note the loud and high-quality audio as well as the ease of programming frequencies. Many reviews speak to the quality of the scanner and easy-to-use interface. Negative reviews mention difficulty programming and the fact you arent able to program this police scanner with a Mac, as youll need a PC.
Best For Home: Uniden Homepatrol
Doesn’t include a power adapter
With an easy to rest stand, the Uniden HomePatrol-2 digital scanner with a pre-programmed database is a highly functional scanner thats perfect for any room in the house. Including specialized features such as quick record and playback, the Uniden is a highly recommended digital scanner that can be up and running in minutes. Theres no programming needed herejust enter your zip code and HomePatrol-2 will load all the recognized police, fire, and EMS channels in the surrounding area. It includes channel information for the US and Canada from radioreference.com.
Weighing just over a pound, the HomePatrol-2 is easy to tote around. Additionally, the inclusion of a touch screen was an industry first with the HomePatrol-2. Uniden also includes rechargeable batteries that last between five to six hours. It comes with a USB charging cord that you can connect to a standard USB power brick.
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What Is The Best Police Scanner For Home Use
Below are the best police scanners for everyone from advanced users to first-time scanners.Uniden Bearcat BC125AT. BEST HANDHELD. Uniden SR30C BearCat. GREAT HANDHELD CHOICE. Whistler WS 1025. Uniden BC365CRS 500. Uniden BC355N800. Uniden HomePatrol-2. Uniden BCD536HP HomePatrol Base/Mobile Scanner. 5-0 Radio Police Scanner App.Oct 1, 2020
Bear Tracker 885 Vs Standard Cb Radio
Obviously, the major difference between this and another CB radio is the fact that it has a scanner built into it. In the United States and Canada, the BearTracker will be able to scan for transmissions from Police, Ambulance, Fire and DOT radio traffic. It will do this by constantly searching for low-powered signals from the emergency services in the local area.
It is worth noting that this is not a true scanner. If you want to get your kicks from listening in on emergency service frequencies, then you will want to pick up a different scanner. This does not allow you to search for frequencies. You just have to listen to whatever pops up, and it is only going to highlight things in the immediate area.
Why is it not a true scanner? Well, it isnt designed to be one. It is more to provide people with information on emergencies in the local area so that they can take action. For example you will be able to get warnings as to whether there are accidents or fires in the local area so you can avoid them. in some areas, you may also receive a little bit of information about speed cameras and the like.
We do love the fact that everything is automatic here. Sure, you cant choose the frequencies that you tune into but the BearTracker 885 is going to pick up on almost everything on its own. You do not need to tinker with anything. It justworks.
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Is It Illegal To Talk On Police Radio
It shall be unlawful for any person except a member of a police department or police force or an official with written authorization from the head of a department which regularly maintains a police radio system authorized or licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, to have in his or her possession, or in an
Do Police Still Use Radios
But, the vast majority of US police agencies still operate on radio channels compatible with the little $30 technological wonders. The programmable portables are sold for use by amateur radio, HAM operators for use on their two-meter and 70-centimeter bands, which are adjacent to the public safety bands.
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Best Handheld Police Scanner: Whistler Trx
The Whistler TRX-1 packs all the features of high-end base digital police scanners into a handheld unit.
This model is pre-programmed with access to a nationwide database of frequencies, and it’s possible to store up to 200 lists or groups of preferred frequencies. It also features an additional list specifically dedicated to transmissions from Skywarn, a network of over 350,000 volunteers that track weather conditions. Whistler offers database updates through its website, and you can manually input frequencies as needed.
What’s more, you can set custom alarms to notify you whenever a frequency becomes active. For example, the LED can display a flash of red and blue light whenever the scanner picks up police transmissions. With the alarm clock function, the unit will turn on and starts scanning at a specific time each day.
Handheld Mobile Or Desktop
There are three different types of radio scanners. Each uses standard technology but varies in usage.
- Handheld: As can be inferred from the name, these radio scanners are portable and can be held in the hand. These are best for people who want to use their scanner on the go and prioritize mobility.
- Desktop: This type of radio scanner is the opposite of a handheld scanner, as it is meant to be placed in one particular location. With wall-mounted output, these radio scanners are not portable but do come with exceptional frequency pick-up power.
- Mobile: This type of radio scanner acts as a middle ground between handheld and desktop scanners. These scanners are portable but can also be plugged into the wall.
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Best For Low Prices: Whistler Ws1025 Analog Desktop Scanner
If what you want is a basic but reliable scanner for a very reasonable price, the Whistler WS1025 analog scanner fits the bill nicely. For around $100, this scanner can access emergency weather alerts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and frequencies used by storm spotter networks teams of volunteers that provide reports directly to the National Weather Service.
The Whistler WS1025 is an analog scanner, so your access to police, fire and medical emergencies departments may be limited . But if you live in a smaller town, and the signals youre interested in are analog, look no further.
The WS1025 has enough memory to store up to 200 channels. You can input frequencies manually or with a computer and categorize them into separate banks or lists based on signal type . You can also set a priority channel to be scanned every two seconds, even when youre searching for other available frequencies.
Best Smartphone App: Smartest Apps 5
No equipment necessary
It actually works
While the focus of scanners is almost always concentrated on the utilitarian design of the handheld and car-ready hardware, theres a new and most formidable entry in the market. The 5-0 Radio Police Scanner app, which has millions of downloads. Users can listen to feeds in the background, including police/EMS/fire and military codes, as well as both aircraft and train feeds.
Theres even international coverage where available, so the scanner app can detect your location and determine relevant feeds youll want to follow. Currently free in both the Apple Store and Google Play, theres also a pro option that offers 50,000 more feeds.
The BearTracker 885s included GPS, CB radio, and noise-canceling microphone make it an excellent choice for truckers or anyone who spends a lot of time on the road. For an inexpensive handheld option, the Uniden Bearcat BC365CRS is a good model to check out. If you want to try out scanning, test out the free 5-0 Radio Police Scannerapp.
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Q: Why Is The Police Scanner Public
Police retain the right to withhold information that can impact an ongoing investigation which, in the past, led to encrypted frequencies . However, when different emergency departments tried to coordinate, these encrypted channels proved to be a risk. Most remain public to ensure open access during a time of crisis.
Whistler Ws1065 Desktop Digital Scanner
EASTY TO USE
This digital police scanner from Whistler makes it super easy to group your stations according to your preference and cycle between them seamlessly. It has a memory backup so frequencies can be stored in the device for extended periods of time even without batteries, and the memory organization is much more efficient than with lower scanners. Its got a Skywarn storm spotter built in so you can easy access to frequencies related to extreme weather, and the multi-system trunking makes it easy to tune into the stations you want and tune out the ones you dont. It also has a digital AGC thats got the capacity to make up for low audio levels on behalf of the user.
Pros: Very easy to customize your listening experience on the device through frequency memory and station grouping.
Cons: The buttons on the menu are small.
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Best Overall: Uniden Bcd536hp Homepatrol Series Base/mobile Scanner
The Uniden BCD536HP is an excellent digital police scanner for novice and experienced users alike. It comes pre-programmed with access to over 10,000 frequencies in the U.S. and Canada. Simply turn on the unit, enter your zip code and the scanner automatically detects channels for police and fire departments, emergency medical services and weather alerts within a 20- to 50-mile radius.
Available frequencies are not limited to pre-programmed ones either. The included database can be updated using a computer, and the unit has a scanning feature that discovers nearby frequencies that may not be already registered. If the scanner is going to be installed in a vehicle used for frequent travel, hook it up to Unidens GPS receiver , and it will continuously adjust to local frequencies while on the move.
It comes with a 4GB microSD memory card to let you record and replay transmissions. This model also gives you the power to store lists of your favorite frequencies, create custom searches , set up custom alerts for when the scanner detects activity, and scan based on service type .
Note that while this could be a selling point, some users are dissatisfied with the apps functionality, claiming that it crashes frequently.
Best Analog: Uniden Bearcat Bc75xlt Handheld Scanner
Has close call RF technology
Weaker reception in some areas
Featuring the ability to connect to public safety, military aircraft, and racing scanner channels, Unidens BC75XLT is a terrific choice for analog scanner fans. The built-in search functionality is second-to-none, and it quickly identifies channels for police, fire, marine, air, weather, and more, which makes the BC75XLT a very much pickup-and-go analog scanner.
You can save 300 channels into the scanners memory or 30 channels total in 10 separate banks. This makes it easy to scan for current transmissions on each stored channel. Additionally, the inclusion of Close Call RF capture technology assists the BC75XLT in identifying and detecting nearby transmissions, even if they arent pre-programmed into a channel. Powered by two AA batteries, the BC75XLT is both lightweight and designed to fit in the hand. Overall, it has good reception as long as youre in a strong signal area.
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The Best Police Scanner Of 2020 Whistler Trx
For an overall high-quality device that can keep track of miscellaneous frequencies, go for the Whistler TRX-1. This portable handheld scanner is the best all-around device, whether youre using it for personal purposes, inside a vehicle, or in public. It provides weather alerts, object-oriented capabilities, search modes, micro-SD compatibility, and more.
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Best Buy Customers Often Prefer The Following Products When Searching For Top Rated Radio Scanners
A radio scanner is a device that allows you to listen to radio frequencies. It is used to receive and transmit radio signals, and can be used for communication and entertainment. Browse the top-ranked list of top-rated radio scanners below along with associated reviews and opinions.
Stay on top of emergency situations in your area with this Uniden HomePatrol-II HOMEPATROL-2 radio scanner, which covers most channels in your area after you input your zip code or city. Receive biological, national, civic, nuclear and weather alerts.See all customer reviews
Stay on top of emergency situations in your area with this Uniden HomePatrol-II HOMEPATROL-2 radio scanner, which covers most channels in your area after you input your zip code or city. Receive biological, national, civic, nuclear and weather alerts.$482.99Your price for this item is $482.99Save $17
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Uniden Bc365crs 500 Police Scanner
BEST NIGHTSTAND MODEL
This police scanner can do a little bit of everything. It has 500 channels in 10 banks to scan police, EMS, and local weather. But it also has an FM radio for when you want to tune into your favorite sports radio or news radio program. And we all know the early bird gets the worm, so you can program the alarm clock to wake you up for the day so you can get to scanning the airways. Its simple to control with big buttons and the display makes it easy to read even in low lighting.
Pros: Has 500 police, EMS and weather channels in addition to FM radio so you can switch back and forth between pleasure and purpose.
Cons: The aesthetic design leaves something to be desired.
Best Scanner Cb Radio Combo: Uniden Beartracker 885 Hybrid Cb Radio + Digital Scanner
Police scanners and CB radios look fairly similar but dont share the same capabilities. Police scanners let you tune in and listen to radio transmissions sometimes up to 50 miles away. CB radios the kind of devices truck drivers often use, for example only detect transmission from other CB radios at a shorter distance , while also letting you talk to other users.
The Unidens BearTracker 885 combines both of these devices into a single unit. It lets you chat with other CB radio users while scanning for analog and digital signals to listen to.
It comes pre-programmed with a nationwide frequency database, to make it easy to begin listening to nearby radio transmissions. With a built-in GPS, it will automatically detect and switch between nearby frequencies without the need to reprogram as you travel. It can also send alerts when it detects nearby public safety transmissions.
Uniden has an online update manager designed specifically for the BearTracker 885, so you can update the scanners database as you need. The company’s website states databases are updated weekly.
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