Best Police Scanner Questions… Answered.


You’re not able to cross the line,
but you can listen in on your police scanner…

What is a Police Scanner?

  • A Police Scanner, otherwise known as a radio scanner or simply a scanner is a radio receiver that scans local programmed channels to allow you to listen in to communications between emergency dispatch, police, fire, EMS, aircraft, railway and emergency weather services.
  • People use police scanners for a variety of reasons, including work or simply staying up-to-the-minute on emergency events happening around their local area.

What types of Police Scanners are there?

  • Handheld [portable device – battery powered]
  • Mobile [typically mounted in vehicle – AC and DC power options]
  • Base [home or office device – AC powered]

Handheld Police Scanners

UNIDEN BCD436HP police scanner

Uniden

  • Whistler TRX 1

    Whistler

    Handheld police scanners allow you to listen to a variety of emergency calls right in the palm of your hand.

    Handheld police scanners are just as powerful and receive unlimited channels, just like base/mobile scanners.

  • The scanner can be hooked on your belt with the swivel belt clip. 
  • You can listen into law enforcement as it happens and stay informed wherever you are.*

Mobile Scanners [aka: base/mobile]

  • Mobile scanners can be installed in your vehicle for personal or work use so that you can listen on-the-go.*
  • Most base/mobile scanners can be used interchangeably, including the Whistler TRX 2 and Uniden BCD536HP.

    Uniden BCD536HP

    Uniden BCD536HP

Base Scanners [aka: base/mobile]

  • Base scanners are tabletop units that can be used at your home or office.
  • Most base/mobile scanners can be used interchangeably, including the Whistler TRX 2 and Uniden BCD536HP.

    Whistler TRX-2 - base/mobile police scanner

    Whistler TRX-2

*Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, New York & Minnesota have restrictions on listening to police scanners while operating a motor vehicle.

What is an analog scanner?

  • Analog [conventional] scanners can receive analog radio transmissions.
  • Frequencies can be entered and stored in the scanner memory.
  • Rural areas and smaller cities continue to utilize analog radio transmissions.
  • Analog scanners are not able to monitor digital Phase 1, digital Phase 2 or trunked.

What is a digital scanner?

  • The more advanced form of radio communication is digital.
  • Digital scanners both transmit and receive information digitally.
  • Digital police scanners can also receive analog and trunked frequencies.
  • There are two types of digital transmitters, Phase 1 and Phase 2.
  • Before buying your police scanner you should check into what type of digital transmission your local agencies are using.
  • Also note that the top units from both manufacturers have the ability to receive all types of transmissions: Phase 2, Phase 1, analog and trunking.

How do you program your police scanner?

  1. Most scanners can simply be programmed directly on the device with your zip code.
  2. On some units PC programming is available, no scanners are MAC programmable.
  3. If your scanner is PC programmable, the PC software will be included with your device.

What is a trunked radio system?

  • Trunked radio systems are different from standard radio systems in the way that a standard radio system uses dedicated frequencies for each group of users, whereas trunked radio uses a set of frequencies accessed by multiple groups.
  • It is a more efficient use of frequency channels. Trunked radio systems are often used by emergency services such as; police, fire, EMS and others on a set of frequencies allocated to the city or county.
  • Police scanners that are able to utilize trunked radio systems are referred to as “trunk tracking” or “trunk trackers” they scan and store “talkgroups” just like frequencies.best police scanner

What is the Frequency Coverage in my area?

  • Agencies in different areas utilize different frequencies.
  • Your area may even have a mix of different frequencies they use.
  • Before you buy a police scanner look up the frequencies used in your area by entities you want to listen to.
  • Intercept Radio or Scanner Frequencies are great resources to check into your counties radio frequencies.

Are police scanners legal?

Yes, in 1934 the federal communications law was passed, this law allows almost all radio frequencies to be public, except for military encrypted channels and cell phone communications.

  • In the United States owning and operating a police radio scanner is legal.
  • Some states prohibit using radio scanners while operating a motor vehicle.
  • Also, it is illegal to use scanner information to aid in criminal activity.police scanner

What are they saying? [code language]

Sometimes a code language can be used in scanner communications, as the public agencies are aware that the public is listening into their conversations.

Dispatchers and responders are required to maintain professional exchanges during these public transmissions and use codes to keep sensitive information protected.

Each jurisdiction has its own set of Radio Signal Codes [Police 10-codes, 11-codes and penal codes] Easily locate the radio signal codes for your city by searching the internet for:

Radio Signal Code with your city and state

Choosing the best police scanner can be confusing…

…Let’s make it simple

  • There are only 2 manufacturers of police scanners
    • Uniden
    • Whistler
  • Most users choose a handheld scanner
    • handhelds are just as powerful, able to receive the same amount of channels and offer great portability
  • Most police scanners have simple programming [by zip code] directly on the unit or can be PC programmed, NO scanners are Mac programmable
  • Most channels are broadcast digitally, although some areas continue to use analog & trunking
  • Top units from Uniden & Whistler monitor all: Digital Phase 2, Digital Phase 1, Analog and Trunking, if your area is still analog or trunking you will be able to utilize:

Let’s take a closer look at all the details…

\\ Top-Rated Handheld Phase 2 Digital Police Scanners \\

Manufacturer
Model
Type

Whistler
TRX-1
Handheld

Uniden
BCD436HP
Handheld

\\ MONITORING \\

Digital Phase 2

Yes

Yes

Digital Phase 1

Yes

Yes

Trunking

Yes

Yes

Analog

Yes

Yes

S.A.M.E. Weather Alert

Yes

Yes

X2-TDMA, APCO-25, EDACS, LTR, MotoTRBO™,
Motorola P25, Analog Motorola, Digital Motorola

Yes

Yes

ProVoice EDACS

No

Yes –
With $50
Upgrade

NXDN

Yes –
With Free
Upgrade

No

AM/FM Reception

No

No

Frequency Range

25 MHz –
1.3 GHz

25 MHz –
1.3 GHz

Number of Channels

Unlimited

Unlimited

\\ FEATURES \\

GPS Capable

No

Yes

Alpha Tag

Yes

Yes

NAC Decoding

Yes

Yes

Fire Tone-Out Alert

No

Yes

Location-Based Scanning

Yes

Yes

Spectrum Sweeper® / Close Call®

Yes

Yes

Record, Playback & Replay

Yes

Yes

Backlit Keypad & LCD

Yes

Yes

External Speaker &
Headset Compatible

Yes

Yes

Swivel Belt Clip

Yes

Yes

\\ PROGRAMMING \\

PC Programming & Control

Yes

Yes

Mac Programmable

No

No

Easy Program Set-up [by zip code]

Yes

Yes

Software Included

EZ Scan

Sentinel

USA/Canada Radio Database

Yes

Yes

\\ MEMORY & POWER \\

Memory

2 GB

4 GB

SD Card

Yes

Yes

Scanner Range [line of sight in miles]

30 miles

30 miles

Batteries needed
==> [rechargeable batteries recommended]

three AA

three AA

Battery Life

8 hours

8 hours

\\ SPECIFICATIONS \\

Unit Size

H 5.3″
W 2.1″
D 1.1″

H 6.3″
W 2.8″
D 1.5″

Unit Weight (without antenna & batteries)

7.4 oz

12.4 oz

Manufacturer Warranty

1 year

1 year

Model year

2016

2013

Manufacturer
Model
Type

Whistler
TRX-1
Handheld

Uniden
BCD436HP
Handheld