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
Can You Get In Trouble Listening To Police Frequencies
In the United States, different jurisdictions have different laws. Police scanners are generally allowed, but the use of a scanner to search for frequencies is restricted in five states if youre on an automobile.
If youre in another country, you will have different laws about police scanners as well. For example, in Canada, its legal to install and use any kind of radio that can receive the broadcast except for private information. In Australia, if a transmission is not telecommunication, you can have a scanner and listen to every channel in your local area.
For your safety, please check your state laws to know specific information. However, know that its always a federal crime to listen to phone calls, regardless of what area youre in.
If you dont have a physical scanner, you can also use a smartphone app that acts as a normal scanner. Read our comparison of the best ones here:
How Can You Avoid Laser Speeding Tickets
So, now that we have defined the threat, lets explore a simple way to protect you from being successfully targeted.
Veil is a patented stealth technology which works by absorbing police lasers infrared light pulses . This makes it much harder on the guns to see their own reflected light pulses. The most reflective parts of an automobile or motorcycle are its headlights and license plates.
Discover how Veil can help keep you ticket free.
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What Frequencies Do Scanners Use
A scanner radio uses several frequencies, and as mentioned, a common way to find them is by using a local directory. Here are some common ones:
- 46: This is the inter-department emergency frequency for communications by both local and state forces.
- 160: This frequency is open to all departments, facilitating inter-department emergency communication in times of search and rescue operations.
- 475: This is a more common frequency where many emergency communications of state and local officers happen.
There are many other frequencies especially depending on which area you live in. For instance, youll find many sets of frequencies in the state of Alabama. If you want to listen to Dallas County frequencies, you can tune in to:
- 80000: The sheriff dispatch, RM-type with WPUF523 license. Its the Dallas SO 1.
- 50000: The Fire VFD dispatch, RM-type with KNAU435 license. Its the line of the Dallas County Fire Department.
- Similarly, there are three more for Dallas County, and three more for Selma.
As you can see, each frequency has a license and many have tones as well (like 110.9 PL for the Dallas SO 1. These are all mostly FM or FMN.
Note that police scanners are devices that scan and not impose audio on airwaves themselves. That makes it tricky to say what scanner frequencies do law enforcement officers use because theyre simply listening in.
If youre interested to know about object-oriented scanning and which models use it, see a short discussion on our Whistler TRX-1 review.
What Is The Best Price For A Portable Police Scanner
A portable police scanner is supposed to be a lifelong companion. You will enjoy faster opening times, better quality, and a better view by paying more for your product. It would cost between $$$ and $$$ for a new portable police scanner. The only downside is that you wouldn’t have some luxury features.
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How To Listen To A Police Scanner
If you have a scanner, then the process should be easy. To be able to listen to a scanner, you just need to let the scanner to scan the channels nearby it. By pressing the switch you will get the chances of scanning hundreds of channels at a time. Now, it is completely your choice whether you will go for listening to police action, weather report, or just the traffic control system of your area.
A police scanner is not only for the police department or for the journalist, but also for anyone who is interested in the ongoing affairs of his/her nearby areas. For getting any kind of information or news, a police scanner tends to remain far ahead than the television media. Whatever reason it is, if you want to be a diplomat in the recent future, maybe buying a police scanner is the first thing that you can think about making.
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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How To Choose A Police Scanner
When choosing a radio scanner, you should consider what features you want, how much you want to spend and whether the scanner is designed for beginners or experienced radio operators. For instance, do you want a desktop or handheld unit? Do you want to plug in your zip code and start listening, or do you want a more sophisticated unit? There are also both digital and analog models available today.
To help you choose the best police scanner for your needs, weve put together a SPY Guide to help. Below are the best police scanners for everyone from advanced users to first-time scanners.
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.
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When Did Police Radio Encryption Begin
Police radio encryption began after the 9/11 incident, as police around the states felt that the officers safety was being compromised on open radio, so they encrypted their radios to hide senstive information from tom dick and harry.
Different states have different laws regarding police radio encryptions.
Back in the days, the police used to have analogue radios, and if you wanted to listen in, you had to go buy a radio that can tune into the frequency, that is how you can listen to police radio.
But now, they have changed the system from analogue to digital and you can tap into it with an app and an internet connection, you can tune in from anywhere around the world.
With ease of access to police radio transmissions, came problems that came from misinformation which spread rumors and also put officers lives at risk, hence the need for encryptions
However, some channels are left open as these are backups, tactical, car-to car use or for communicating with the general public.
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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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.
How To Program A Police Scanner
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A “police scanner” is another name for a radio scanner, a communication device that monitors radio signals in your local area. In addition to emergency personnel communications like police and firefighters, scanners can also be programmed with frequencies to a variety of other public communication offices including schools, media, and utilities companies. Scanners are often used by hobbyists for fun, but they can also be used as a part of business communication or to keep people safe in emergency situations. While using a scanner is a simple process, the initial process of programming which frequencies you want to receive can be a bit of work. Once you have successfully added a frequency, you can easily customize your scanner to include the frequencies for all agencies within your county.
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Reasons To Keep Police Communication Open
- 1st Amendment
- Government transparency
- To allow citizens & off-duty public safety personnel to respond to emergencies
- Backup & neighboring police officers receive delayed information
- Inhibits the medias ability to accurately report news in real time & inform citizens
- Open communication with a three-minute delay would suffice
- Police utilize cell phones for conversations they dont want to put over the radios
- Is encryption secure enough to keep crafty criminals at bay?
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.
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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.
Can Police Lidar Guns Take Pictures For Evidence Against You
Unfortunately, some guns do have the ability to take photos showing your vehicle and your speed, making it even more difficult to fight the speeding ticket in court, with the video evidence. The good news these guns cost police departments upwards of $7000 apiece, roughly four to five times the cost of a conventional gun. They tend to also be quite bulky. The exception to this is the LTI SXB which is very small and has bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone which can do the recording. But in all my travels, I have yet to encounter such a unit.
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Benefits Of Having A Police Scanner
The benefits of having a police scanner are many. These are some of the benefits of why you should think about buying a new scanner.
- It gives you the authenticity to listen to all kinds of police action.
- When it is about the weather forecast, journalist or social media tend to be slow. But, if you own a scanner, you dont have to be a worry for the real update of the weather condition.
- This type of scanner lets you know about the traffic controlling system in your area. As a result, you will get better knowledge around your city, even if you are sitting at your home.
- If you are living in a rough condition where the communication system is very remote, a police scanner can generate great help in case of emergencies.
Different Types Of Radio Systems
Broadly speaking there are three types of system:
- Handheld As the name suggests, you hold it in your hand. This model has the most mobility of course, whilst often being weaker models in terms of broadcast pick up range. It is also limited by its battery lifespan.
- Base/Mobile A middle ground between handheld police scanners and desktop models. They can be plugged into the wall for base use, or installed in a vehicle for mobile use.
- Desktop The complete opposite of Handheld. As the name suggests, they are designed to sit on the desktop and must be plugged into a wall power outlet. That lack of mobility is usually offset with more frequency pick up power, as well as more built-in features such as additional channel memory.
Analog Vs. Digital Analogue is the traditional radio source that has been around since the very birth of the device. Digital is a far more modern communication medium. Analogue has the advantage of being generally cheaper, whilst digital is more powerful and has more options. It can, for example, be trunked or broken up into essentially different channels making it a more effective medium. As it is more expensive to install, many law enforcement agencies have not yet switched over.
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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.