Best Digital: Uniden Bcd996p2
Some features require paid upgrades
There arent that many brands in the police scanner game , but Uniden is a major player in the world of scanners. Meant as a one-stop-shop for analog scanning and digital transmissions, the Uniden BCD99P2 is one of the better scanners out there. Whatever your needs, the BCD99P2 most likely has you covered, even if it does so in a fairly large package.
The BCD99P2 is capable of location-based scanning, and it can detect nearby radio transmissions. The TrunkTracker V scanner also offers continuous band coverage spanning 25 MHz to 1.3 GHz. Factor in 25,000 different dynamically allocated channels, and youll have enough options to cover all your local systems, recalled via the intuitive internal memory of the unit. It all comes in a compact 11 x 3.75 x 8.5-inch unit with a bright display and easy-to-navigate controls.
How You Can Start Scanning And Listening In On Police Scanner Frequencies
Now we have come to the juicy part, which is the crux of the matter How can you start listening in on police scanner frequencies? It is as smooth as taking candy off a babys hand.
- It would be best if you started by first getting a quality scanner.
- To start building your police scanner, you need to know the exact frequency you are aiming to tune into. If you do not already know how to do this, please refer to the header above.
- After you must have taken care of that, you can then go ahead to program your frequencies of choice into the scanner.
- One essential device for radio communication that can never go overstated is the need for an excellent antenna.
- Antennas are the proverbial icing on the cake. Without a good quality antenna, you might encounter some problems finding and listening to various police frequencies, especially sustaining a good reception over a fair amount of time.
Broadcastify Best Radio Scanner App Overall
- Compatible with desktop and mobile
- Tracks police frequencies
- Global Feed Catalog
Broadcastify has a huge collection of channels that are sorted based on the users county and metro locale. The channels are stable, especially the ones that focus on EMS and fire services. Based on our tests, this is among the most decent EMS scanners today.
The application has a nice appearance design-wise. We found the interface appealing and intuitive, making it easy to use.
Broadcastify also has a website, meaning that you can listen to police scans on your desktop computer. You can also download it on your iPad if you want to free your smartphone for more tasks.
With this app, you can discover over 6,000 streams. This includes local feeds from police radios, aircraft, public safety, rail, and marine live audio. Like most apps on this list, Broadcastify gives you many signal options available for listening.
When we tried out this scanner app, the way the broadcasts are organized is intuitive and easy to understand. Youll find sections such as Official Feeds, Latest Feed Additions, and Top 50 Live Audio Feeds. To make it even easier, the app also has a Browse By Location feature so you can listen to the police in your area.
When it comes to the price, this app has free and pro version options, where the latter offers no ads and feed archives. We do recommend starting with the free version of Broadcastify first and upgrade once you think the perks are worth paying extra.
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What Is Radio Encryption
Encryption is simply scrambling the radio transmission so that it cannot be heard, the transmission is then encoded with an encryption key, encryption keys are programmed on radios, matching encryption keys will encrypt the message and the audio will be put back together if the encryption is correct.
The concept of radio encryption is similar to house keys.
Radios that dont have the correct encryptions keys will hear the transmission as garbled up.
Did you know that you can use RTL SDR dongle to listen to police radio conversations? Learn RTL SDR here
Best Vehicle: Uniden Bcd536hp
Connects remotely to Uniden Siren App
No programming required
Unidens BCD536HP scanner offers some of the easiest-to-program features available on a scanner. You just type in your zip code, and the scanner does the work for you. Theres even a Wi-Fi option that allows you to use the exclusive Uniden siren app on your smartphone or tablet to access the scanner from anywhere in the home or vehicle.
The LCD backlit keypad helps illuminate the unit, so you can see it in the dark and quickly access the controls. Included within the packaging are home and auto power cords, as well as a mounting bracket for inside the vehicle and a Wi-Fi dongle and telescoping antenna. Theres no battery power to worry about since this Uniden scanner runs entirely off the car battery . Additionally, the BCD536HP was one of the first Uniden scanners to incorporate the HomePatrol data, which allows the easy entering of a zip code and you’re ready to listen in.
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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.
Using As A Police Scanner
I really enjoy this app! Have not delved beyond the police scanner yet, as that was main reason to use it. It works exactly as you would want for that. So many options! I live in a large city in CO and rest of my family live back in MI. This lets me not only know what is happening here in this huge city around me, but I can keep an ear out on my adult kids toInteresting how you learn that when police departments complain how underfunded they are, or under staffed, by hearing that on any given weekend, in any district, only 3-4 cars are on the late night shift, and complaint calls hold for over 24 hrs….you can understand the frustration from not only the people in the city, but very much so by the police who have to answer those insanely late response times! Last weekend Friday night, 2am, 4 different calls were held involving guns and knives simply because there was no one to respond! Yup. Sorry for the long story, but this app has actual learning value to it. 109% recommendation
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How To Turn Your Android Phone Into A Police Radio Scanner
Curious about police activity in your area, but don’t want to invest in a dedicated police scanner? Try using your Android phone instead.
Ed Rhee, a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an IT veteran turned stay-at-home-dad of two girls. He focuses on Android devices and applications while maintaining a review blog at techdadreview.com.
With an Android app called Scanner Radio, you can turn your Android phone into a portable police scanner. Volunteers with scanners provide over 3,100 audio streams from police and fire departments, weather radios, and amateur radio operators.
You can let Scanner Radio search for scanners near your current location, or manually search for scanners based on area, genre, or source.
Once you find your favorite audio feeds, you can add them as favorites for quick access. You can also listen to archives of certain feeds, but that feature requires the Pro version .
That’s it. Just a little warning: listening in on police scanners can be addictive and scary, all at the same time.
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How Do You Listen To Encrypted Police Channels
As we have covered above, that in order to have access to encrypted police channels, you will need to have a radio thats programmed with the encryption key.
The encryption key is necessary to decrypt the transmission and allow you to listen in.
If you are one of those radio enthusiasts this can be a bummer. With all that said, you can still listen into to the fire service, Utility departments, air crafts and towers which can be interesting as well
So you cant listen to police encrypted radio unless your radio can de-encrypt it.
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Keep An Eye On The Cops: The Best Police Scanner Apps
Whether youre following protests or just wondering why theres a helicopter hovering over your neighborhood, police scanner apps help you stay informed on what the cops are up to.
During the recent George Floyd protests, police scanner app downloads have skyrocketed. If you’re hoping to avoid a confrontation with local law enforcement while peacefully protesting or you just want to know what’s going on in your areawhat’s that siren for? Why is there a police helicopter hovering over my neighborhood?A police scanner app can help out. As an added perk, most of these mobile apps can play fire department and weather radio, too.
These radio-scanning apps save you from buying a pricey hardware scanner: You can simply install an iPhone app or Android app on your smartphone. Both app stores are well stocked with options. Some are free, but there are features in some that make them worth paying forthe last thing you want is a video ad right when you’re trying to get crucial info. If you just want to sit at home or in a café and watch police activity, there are several scanner apps available on the app stores for macOS and Windows. You could also simply point your web browser to Broadcastify, which is the feed source for many of these apps.
Police Scanner: Best for Clear Interface and Walkie-Talkie Feature
Can I Hack Police Frequencies
Yes, you can do this. It is even wholly legal to do so. Hacking into police frequencies is quite useful for safety purposes.
They can come in handy when you listen over call-ins of crime and public disturbances around your neighborhood.
This way, you not only become very safety conscious and stay abreast of happenings all around you, but you can become a sort of local vigilante that can alert your loved ones and neighbors to be careful in their movements, especially in rough neighborhoods.
The only thing you need to understand with hacking into police frequencies is that you will be beyond a simple conventional frequency.
You will need to learn how to work with big bands like UHFs and VHFs and understand decoding encryptions. It might be all that easy, but with the right approach, you will eventually get your hands around it.
Best Portable: Uniden Homepatrol
Why It Made The Cut: With its full-color touchscreen and small size, this digital scanner is one of the easiest to use.
Specs: Dimensions: 6.4 inches long by 4.2 inches wide by 3.8 inches thick Type: Digital
Easy to set up and use Portable size makes it ideal for taking on the road Full-color touch screen makes it easy to navigate Ability to record and playback transmissions
Cons: Expensive Occasional problems with reception
Unidens HomePatrol is one of the pricier police scanners you can purchase for your home, but its design allows you to get so much more out of it than cheaper analog models. Setting up the HomePatrol is simple when compared to other home police scanners. Theres no need to program frequencies or hunt for channels. Simply enter your zip code, and it finds the channels for you using the Uniden database. A range knob allows you to adjust the scanner to pick up transmissions from as little as one mile away up to 30 miles away. In addition to police and emergency services, it also allows you to listen to S.A.M.E weather alerts.
A touch screen with a full-color display makes it easy to see what channel youre listening to and switch from channel to channel. The HomePatrol also gives you functions other scanners dont, most notably the ability to record and playback transmissions via an SD card.
How Can You Listen To Police Frequencies
You can listen to police frequencies simply by programming your scanner. You just need to look for the specific frequency or frequencies that you want to listen to in your local area. For that, you just need to use the internet, directories, or the retailers database.
If you have all your frequencies listed, simply program those frequencies in your scanner with the steps weve discussed above. Once thats done, you can now listen to communications across your state in frequencies like fire, EMS, and aviation.
To make your listening experience smooth and static-free, make sure you also got a proper antenna installed in your scanner. Your scanners factory antenna might not do the job, so weve also listed the best police scanner antennas for you.
If you dont want to use a scanner or if you dont have a scanner right now, there are also many websites that feature live audio. Its probably not real-time, as there might be a lag between the signal reception, conversion to web audio, and live uploading which the server might limit if there are too many requests.
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Do Police Scanner Apps Actually Work
There are many police scanner apps available for your phone. They do not turn your cellphone into a radio. They do access internet streams uploaded by owners of home police scanners. So yes, you can listen to real live police radio chatter on your phone while in your car.
It may surprise you to know that its perfectly legal to listen to police radio channels. Most of the time, police departments, fire department, and ambulance crews use public radio channels to communicate. In all 50 states, you can install a police scanner in your home and listen in. But there are some states that outlaw listening from your car.
Early in the internet age, many home police scanner owners began to stream audio from their radios. Anyone interested could listen to these from their own computers, just like they would listen to a home scanner.
Now, several software developers have released police scanner apps for your iPhone and Android. With these apps, you can select a police scanner stream and listen in. These streams are not limited by your location, so you could listen to any streamed police channel from Miami to Mendocino. But listening may not always be legal.
Can A Scanner Pick Up Walkie Talkie Conversations
Yes, some models can. These scanners will allow you to listen in on amateur radio frequencies, which can even include baby monitors, cell phones, and of course, walkie talkies. To learn more, read my guide on walkie talkie code, where youll also get some great information on the safest and best walkie talkies.
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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.
A Split Among Law Enforcement Communities
To be sure, even as more departments have moved toward encryption, the impulse is hardly uniform. The National Association of Police Organizations, which lobbies on behalf of police and police unions, supports letting local agencies individually decide whether or not encryption is appropriate for their local needs, said NAPOs Stephanie Gessner in an email.
Broadcastify has given Blanton a clear view of the divide.
Its very split within the law enforcement community, he said. A lot of agencies support their day-to-day communications being online and available to the general public. Some of them even actually broadcast to us. But some dont .
A lot of agencies support their day-to-day communications being online and available to the general public. Some of them even actually broadcast to us.
Some opt toward open channels over concerns that encryption might make cross-department or cross-agency communication more difficult. Joe Casey, of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, in Chicago, told Built In via email that the agency is on schedule with a plan to secure public safety radio channels, but will nonetheless keep some frequencies unencrypted to allow outside agencies to communicate with the Chicago Police Department.
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