Saturday, June 15, 2024

What Police Scanner Do I Need

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Best Police Scanner Reviews & Recommendations

What can you get with a Digital Police Scanner?
Best Overall
  • Steep learning curve
  • Doesnt include a manual

If youre searching for a police scanner that can kind of do it all, the Uniden BearTracker Scanner is the full-size device you need. This impressively versatile scanner has an almost endless features list, and its highly capable. With 9,000 channels and an advanced dynamic memory system, youll be able to easily store as many channels as youd like to tune in regularly. Extra-helpful features, like close-call RF capture technology, location-based scanning, and Trunk Tracker III technology can help you find all of the frequencies youre looking for. Plus, when connected to a compatible GPS receiver, this scanner can automatically select systems based on where you are. And there are even state-by-state preprogrammed channels so you can find local police, DOT, and highway patrol frequencies wherever you might be.

When you unbox this police scanner, note that you wont find a user manual. Youll be left to your own devices, and that can make setup, and programming, challenging. Because there are so many different features on the scanner, users say that theres a bit of a steep learning curve to master and understand all that it can do.

How To Listen To A Police Scanner

  • How to Listen To A Police Scanner

In the past, it was harder to tune into police and other emergency services. In fact, it usually required detailed knowledge on radios and expensive radios used for each community. With the invention of the internet and advanced technology, things are beginning to change.

If you have a smartphone, then you practically own a police scanner as well. With a download of simple police scanner apps like PoliceStream and iScanner, any average joe can turn their phone into a police scanner. If youre interested, check our article.

What are Police Scanners?

Police scanners are radio receivers that scan for channels within your area and tune into two-way radio calls. Two-way radios are used by the police and can have short transmissions that can occur on thousands of channels.

One thing to remember, once you buy a scanner, youll learn how to use it through consistent practice. We suggest that you understand the basics now and understand the advanced features once youve started to get used to your scanner. Along the way, youll also learn more things listening to scanners. Its not as static a hobby as one may initially think.

Are Police Scanners Legal In Your State

First and foremost, you dont want to buy a police scanner if these tools arent legal for use in the state or county in which you live. In most states, its perfectly legal to own a police scanner. But theres a catch: You cant always operate that scanner legally.

In many states, you can own a scanner but you cannot carry it with you. That makes mobile police scanners, like smartphone police scanner apps or handheld scanners used while youre on the go, illegal. And in many states, its also illegal to install a scanner in your car. However, if you use your police scanner at home, youre perfectly fine.

And in certain states, like Florida, Indiana, and New York, its legal to use a mobile police scanner, but only if you have a license from the FCC or permission from local law enforcement.

How do you know where to draw the line? Well, its a good rule of thumb to keep your police scanner at home and not take it on the go with you. Essentially, most states rule that police scanners are illegal when theyre mobile and used in the commission of a crime. But if youre unsure what, exactly, is legal in your hometown, make sure to look at your state laws on scanners for total clarity.

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Scanner 911 Is One Of The Best Options For Android

Scanner 911 contains over 5,000 police, fire, rescue and other radio feeds that you can listen to for free. There is also an option to upgrade the app for $4.99 to remove ads. Premium users can also listen to the app in the background, meaning youre free to do other things on your device while you tune in.

How To Program A Uniden Police Scanner

SDS200 Police Scanner

You just cracked open your brand spanking new Uniden police scanner.

You’re trying to figure out how to get that puppy positively purring with perfunctory police pow-wows, huh?

You’ve come to the only pie sliver of the internet you can trust.

In this section we’ll show you the 3-step process:

  • How to Download & Install Sentinel Software
  • How to Connect Scanner & Computer
  • Sentinel Software Overview & How to Program for Your Area
  • Step #1 How to Download & Install Sentinel Software

    Step #2 How to Connect Police Scanner & Computer

    Step #3 Sentinel Software Overview & How to Program for Your Area

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    Is It Legal To Own A Police Scanner

    Yes, owning a police scanner is legal. However, certain activities are not allowed using a police scanner. Those include:

    • Listening to police communications to help a criminal escape.
    • Listening to police or security communications to help a crime take place.
    • Listening to cell phone communications and encrypted communications.

    So, despite police scanners being legal, there can be a set of rules governing their usage. Make sure that you check the rules present in your state.

    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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    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.

    The Best Police Scanner Of 2022 Whistler Trx

    Uniden SDS100 Police Scanner Start-Up Guide | Tips & Tricks

    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.

    However, if its your first time using a scanner, take the Uniden Home Patrol 2 or the Whistler WS1040 as good alternatives. For other options not on this list, you may see our and Uniden SDS200.

    Do you have any questions about buying leading police scanners?

    Tell us in the comments below or explore more of our website.

    William Johnson is the owner and founder of He writes about car accessories, with his passion stemming from a deep enthusiasm for all things automotive. His website, RRD, focuses on in-depth reviews of car accessories to help people find the best and latest products in the market.

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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.

    Types Of Signals And Types Of Digital Modes

    Also we should know what is available in the area that we live in prior to selecting a method of listening. There are a lot of things to listen to and not every scanner is created equal. There are two principal types of signals:

  • Analog generally parked on one frequency. Think two walkie talkies set to the same channel. Also think CB radio. Everybody on channel 19 could talk to everyone else on channel 19 provided they were within range.
  • Digital Digital systems are much more complex and can be Trunked systems which use multiple frequencies and use a control channel which permits the simultaneous use of those assigned frequencies. MOST CITIES THESE DAYS HAVE DIGITAL TRUNKED RADIO SYSTEMS although in many small towns they may still use analog systems.
  • To complicate the digital thing a bit more there are different systems which are common for cities or municipalities to use. The most common are DMR, P25 Phase 1, P25 Phase 2, Motorola EDACS, and NXDN. Some scanners are ONLY ANALOG, and some scanners may be digital but only capable of P25 Phase 1. If your city uses P25 Phase 2.THAT SCANNER WONT WORK.

    Some cities may use encrypted digital transmissions. If that is the case you may as well not even buy a scanner because you cant listen.

    Many areas will have a combination of both analog and digital trunking systems. Wow! This is getting ridiculous, huh?

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    Police Scanner + For Apple Devices

    If youre looking for a neat all-in-one listening solution for broadcasts, Police Scanner + has you covered. Not only do you get access to emergency services like police and fire, but regular radio stations are also available for you to tune into whenever youd like. Fun fact: This app was famously used in the hit film The Amazing Spiderman.

    As you can see, the smartphone revolution put information like police radio into everybodys pockets. Why not exercise your right to listen? Whether youre out on the streets or remaining at home, keep safe and stay informed.


    Scanner Radio: Police & Fire

    SDS200 Police Scanner

    Scanner Radio: Police & Fire does pretty much the same thing as many of the other police scanner apps on our countdown, but with a really nice user interface. Its easy to navigate, and it actually has something called auto Dark Mode this dims up your UI at night so that its easier on the eyes.

    You can manually pick from a variety of colorful themes as well. And naturally, there are an endless amount of stations that you can listen to.

    Download it now: here

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    Uniden Bcd996p2 Digital Mobile Scanner


    This mobile police scanner has over 25,000 channels and a dynamic memory system so you can program the frequencies you prefer to listen to and make them easy to access. Its designed for the hobbyist, with a digital decoding system and a sizable memory bank that can remember your preferences. Its got Close Call RF Capture Technology built-in as well as the latest APCO Project 25 Phase II systems for radio capturing. Its got NOAA weather access so you stay up to date on all extreme weather events and the S.A.M.E weather alerts send warnings when there are notable condition changes in your area. Theres also an optional GPS receiver included so you can enjoy location-based scanning in addition to the sophisticated TrunkTracker V technology.

    Pros: Sophisticated technology thats easy to use and access, advanced weather monitoring, plenty of channels to choose from.

    Cons: The speaker doesnt have the best sound quality.

    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

    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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    Upgrade To Broadcastify For Even More Options

    Broadcastify is the main platform Police Scanner Radio & Fire uses to source its content, but the full-fledged app is also worth a look. For $2.99, you get an ad-free listening experience with even more channels, as well as aviation, weather and amateur broadcasters.

    And yes, you can still subscribe to push-notifications just like with the free app.

    Why Do You Need A Police Radio Scanner

    Best Police Scanner of 2020 | Top 4 Police Scanners

    A police radio scanner will let you listen to local emergencies in your area, first-hand! Be it a natural disaster, a freeway accident, a criminal manhunt, or a crime in progress you get to learn about everything. On top of that, these scanners will let you know about weather conditions, traffic situations, road conditions, etc. so that you can stay prepared. These scanners are a vital tool for those who spend most of their time commuting on the road.

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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.

    Uniden Bcd436hp Police Scanner Review

    The Uniden BCD436HP is a hi-tech piece of gadget that you can purchase to scan police bands. It works out of the box. You dont even have to program this police scanner. Entering your zip code is enough to start scanning.

    Uniden BCD436HP digital police scanner includes some of the most advanced technologies related to scanning. For instance, it includes Discover Modes, Radio System Analysis, Close Call RF Capture , GPS connectivity, etc.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find that it can scan 85 channels in a single second! Thats quite some speed, dont you think so? It can scan Police bands, EMS, Ambulance, Public Safety, Weather, Military, Aircraft, and much more. It works both in the US and in Canada.

    In case you happen to be an advanced user, you can program the scanner to give alerts under different conditions. For instance, you can get alerts for a tone-out hit, a close-call hit, or whenever you receive a unit ID. The scanner is smart enough to let you set different tone patterns, different colors , different flash patterns , and 15 volume settings.

    There are two specific features of this handheld police scanner that I like the most. First is the S.A.M.E. Weather Alert, and the second is the Close Call RF Capture Technology.

    The Close Call RF Capture Technology, on the other hand, will detect and tune to nearby transmissions. This will happen even if the frequency is not programmed into any channel.


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