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How To Buy A Police Scanner

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Different Types Of Digital Radio Police Scanners

How To Buy a Police Scanner I Zip Scanners

There are two types:

  • Base or Mobile scanners: These sit on a tabletop or the car or vehicle dash . You dont carry them around in your hands. They have antennas and a better range compared to their handheld counterparts.
  • Handheld scanners: They are small and extremely portable. You can carry them in your pocket, your purse, or in your hand. You can clip them on your belt as well. They dont have great range or clarity as in the base or mobile variants.


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 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.

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Buying Guide For Best Police Scanners

During the CB radio craze of the 1970s, another electronic gadget also gained significant popularity: the police radio scanner.

Private citizens could now use a tabletop receiver with special tuning crystals to pick up local police, fire, and ambulance calls. Users could also eavesdrop on the chatter at air traffic control centres and emergency weather channels.

Modern digital police scanners no longer require tuning crystals to pick up these remote conversations. Today, you can use a police scanner to listen in on thousands of different channels, any of which could be broadcasting action at any time.

How Can You Listen To Police Frequencies

3 Good Reasons to Buy a Police Scanner

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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Best Budget: Uniden Bc365crs

  • Somewhat old school

The Uniden BC365CRS is a 500 Channel Scanner that also serves as an alarm clock, an AM/FM radio, and FM broadcast radio, and a weather alert device. It includes 500 channels in 10 Banks, so you can search police and fire bands, as well as aircraft, amateur radio, and marine transmissions.

The BC365CRS takes three AA batteries, and it includes an antenna and AC adapter in the package. This is designed as a tabletop scanner, so its not the best option to take with you on the go.

The reception will depend somewhat on your geographic area and the type of transmissions youre attempting to receive. Most users say they receive clear audio with police, fire, weather, and radio transmissions, but this is a basic, analog, non-trunking scanner, so it may not be able to pick up transmissions from some agencies. Its best to check the compatibility against the local agencies in your area.

What Is The Digital Police Scanners

Sorry if youre perplexed. I know its not an easy choice! But its one of the most crucial choices youll ever make. If youre still unsure which type of digital police scanners is best for you, I recommend comparing the characteristics and functionalities of the digital police scanners listed above. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

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The Best Police Scanner: A Buyers Guide

With a police scanner, you can keep tabs on all of the latest and most important information in your area. These wireless devices transmit various radio bands at the same time so that you can hear incoming information from police, fire departments, emergency responders, and even weather radios.

If youre going to invest in a police scanner, it stands to reason that you want to purchase a high quality, reliable model. In order to do that, you should take a few important factors into consideration before you buy.

When Did Police Radio Encryption Begin

Uniden Home Patrol Scanner Review | Top Performer

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.

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Whistler Ws1065 Desktop Digital Scanner


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.

Can You Listen To Encrypted Police Channels

No, this is not possible using a police scanner you bought over the internet. However, you can get access to safe, yet encrypted channels that provide updates on what is being said on certain police frequencies.

Buy on Walmart

Uniden HomePatrol-2 Color Touchscreen Simple Program Digital Scanner, TrunkTracker V and – Walmart Link

Uniden BCD436HP HomePatrol Series Digital Handheld Scanner. TrunkTracker V, Simple – Walmart Link

Uniden BearTracker Scanner with 9,000 Channels, TrunkTracker III Technology, – Walmart Link

Uniden Bearcat BC125AT Handheld Scanner, 500-Alpha-Tagged Channels, Close Call – Walmart Link

Whistler TRX-1 Handheld Digital Scanner Radio – Walmart Link

Uniden BC365CRS 500 Channel Scanner and Alarm Clock with Snooze, Sleep, and FM Radio with – Walmart Link

Uniden BEARTRACKER 885 Hybrid Full-Featured CB Radio + Digital TrunkTracking – Walmart Link

Uniden BCD996P2 Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner, 25,000 Dynamically Allocated – Walmart Link

Uniden BC75XLT, 300-Channel Handheld Scanner, Emergency, Marine, Auto Racing, CB Radio, – Walmart Link

Uniden BCD536HP HomePatrol Series Digital Phase 2 Base/Mobile Scanner with HPDB and – Walmart Link

Buy on eBay

Uniden HomePatrol-2 Color Touchscreen Simple Program Digital Scanner, TrunkTracker V and – eBay Link

Uniden BCD436HP HomePatrol Series Digital Handheld Scanner. TrunkTracker V, Simple – eBay Link

Uniden BearTracker Scanner with 9,000 Channels, TrunkTracker III Technology, – eBay Link

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Best Analog: Uniden Bearcat Bc75xlt Handheld Scanner

  • Has close call RF technology

  • Simplistic design

  • 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.

A Great Way To Stay Informed And Up To Date Police Scanner 5
  • University of Maryland
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Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the bestproducts youcan learn more about ourreview process here.We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The best police scanners are easy to set up and use, providing clear audio quality on a broad range of frequencies.

For most people, we think our best budget pick, the Uniden BC365CRS is the one you should just buy.

Police scanners let you stay on top of local events and ahead of the curve in several potentially dangerous situations. You can also use a police scanner to stay abreast of local news before it’s reported on television, you can get weather alerts and find out about an impending natural disaster, or you can tune into amateur radio channels. The best police scanners can also serve as an alternative to a standalone CB radio or radar detector, so read on to see your options.

  • Hybrid CB radio and trunk-tracking scanner

  • Has GPS

  • Expensive

Although its one of the pricier options on this list, the Uniden Beartracker 885 is a full-featured CB radio and digital trunk tracking police scanner. It has GPS included, so it can automatically select nearby channels from its database . You dont have to do any sort of complex programming while you drive, as the scanner does the work for you. It provides weather alerts, PA functionality, and more, and you can easily read the LCD.

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Buy Cheap Police Scanner For Cheap

The answer to the question where can I buy a police scanner depends on several factors but one things for sure, you have lots of options available. In the past your options were limited to what the shops in your neighborhood had to offer, but now with the Internet you have a wider range of choices.

Best Home Police Scanner

Our Rating:

Offering menu-driven programming, and scan list functionality, you can easily set this model up in a matter of minutes and organize all your favorite channels by taking advantage of the scan list and memory backup features. Its also able to scan the most common trunked radio system signals, and comes with the popular digital AGC feature which will compensate for low user audio levels.

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Trunking System Of The Radio Scanner

The trunking system is designed to listen to multiple agencies using only two to three frequencies. It works best in congested circumstances, which means that a device with a trunking system works best in city areas. Radios with a trunking system can pick conventional signals. A conventional system cannot pick trunking signals.

How To Choose The Most Popular Digital Police Scanners

What can you get with a Digital Police Scanner?

The three most crucial criteria to consider are price, quality, and popularity.Price is an obvious factor to consider, as you want to ensure it is acceptable for your needs.Quality should also be examined because buying a low-quality goods will not help you achieve your main aim of obtaining the best product.Finally, while not as obvious as price or quality, popularity can be just as significant as both when it comes to attracting new customers.

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The Joys Of The Aircraft Band

I often listen to the VHF aircraft band when there is not much going on with the local police and fire communications.

There is just something I really enjoy about listening to the local airports and air traffic control on a nice sunny afternoon. For some reason, it just really relaxes me as I work in the garage, or when just sitting outside enjoying the day.

There is just something really cool about listening to pilots, air traffic controllers, and ground controllers as they go about their day, defying gravity, and enjoying the wonders of invention and machinery.

Whistler Ws1040 Handheld Digital Scanner Radio

Whistler WS1040 Handheld Digital Scanner Radio

The Whistler WS1040 Handheld Digital Scanner Radio is a twin of the TRX-1 radio from the same brand. Hence, they both share some similar features.

The Whistler WS 1040 Hand

held Digital Scanners features menu-driven programming that provides you assistance while programming the scanner. it features a customizable scan list so you can arrange and group channels based on how often you listen to them. Like the Whistler TRX-1 scanner, the Whistler 1040 Handheld Digital Scanner also comes with a lock-out function to block specific channels you do not want to hear.

Another feature that stands out due to its incredible execution is the Skywarn storm spotter feature. This provides you instant access to frequencies and channels sued by weather agencies to broadcast emergency updates.

It also comes with a dedicated button with a “FIRE icon” that automatically tunes to pre-programmed fire department channels.

NOTE: The pre-programmed fire department frequencies are general frequencies and might not be specific to your area.

Why you should buy:

  • Supports digital AGC for low user audio levels
  • Dedicated fire button that automatically connects to preprogrammed general fire department frequencies.


  • Does not support location-based scanning
  • No GPS capabilities

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Public Collectors Police Scanner

For its 51st publication, Public Collectors continues with the daily creative practice of QUARANZINE but shifts its focus from the COVID-19 pandemic to the Chicago Police Department. The result is an intense barrage of notes about what could be heard over the police scanner, accompanied by an essay about the project and the experience of listening and taking notes. From the back cover:


For 75 days in 2020 I listened to the police scanner and the interplay between dispatchers and Chicago police officers working throughout the city. I listened using and While listening, I took notes and indicated the day, date, and time on a sheet of paper, along with the day number for the project. I would listen in one continous session for around 45 minutes a day. This book compiles every day of my police scanner notes. I began on September 10, 2020 and ended the project on November 23, 2020.

Marc Fischer / Public Collectors


This book is dedicated to Bill Talsma.

Why I Personally Use The Centerfire Vhf Air Band Base Station Scanner Antenna

5 Best Police Scanner Reviews &  Buyer Guide Oct, 2020 ...

As I mentioned in my Uniden Home Patrol Scanner Review, I really only believe in using quality scanners, antennas, and equipment. And these are the only products that I recommend to others.

With that said, I just had to review my absolute favorite VHF air band scanner antenna, the Centerfire VHF Air Band Base Station Scanner Antenna.

Why? Because this antenna is simply the best performing VHF air band antenna that I have ever owned.

And I have happily owned and used this antenna for 15 years now. Even at 15 years old, the antenna is still in good shape and works perfectly. Here is a picture of mine sitting on my garage roof.

My 15 Year Old Centerfire VHF Airband Antenna on the Roof

I recently moved, and have not had a chance to mount the antenna properly. Even though the antenna is just sitting on my roof, I am able to pick up the ground controllers from airports over 18 miles away!

My disc-cone antenna, and all of my other VHF antennas simply do not perform at the level of the Centerfire on the VHF air band.

When I want to listen to the VHF air band, this is the only antenna I use because none of the others I have tried even come close to receiving the VHF Air band nearly as well as the Centerfire VHF air band antenna.

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