Most of the world will never give more than a single thought about technology that they think has long been left in the past. That’s pretty understandable—at this point, we have witnessed the fast progress in technology and the convenience it could afford us. We now have means for instant connections and clear communication, that resorting to options that are even slightly slower can hit us with curious looks. But then, some of us find equipment of the past interesting, such as scanning enthusiasts, actively taking notes from the seemingly mundane signals transmitted through police scanners in the hopes of finding something that piques our interest even in the slightest.
“Police scanners?” We do not blame you if you have wondered out loud. Or if you happen to already be an enthusiast or a professional requiring the use of one, then you would have known that it is a term that seems to be vague today.
Police scanners, which are also referred to as radio scanners, police radio scanners, or simply scanners, are radio receivers that scan the surroundings for frequencies which then might pick up interesting sounds. If you’re imagining chancing upon a channel where you can eavesdrop on a seemingly innocuous conversation, then you are taking one step towards understanding the purpose and the charm of these devices that seem like bulky phones.
Most police scanners detect signals transmitted between two-way radios, just like CB radios, which are commonly used by professionals like the police and the rest of the emergency services to communicate instantaneously through short transmissions. As these take place in thousands of channels, there is potentially enough content for an enthusiast to go through. For those interested in seeing how it functions even without being in possession of a police scanner just yet, there are feeds available over the Internet that broadcast specific channels which you are free to listen to, as well as the top police scanner apps that try to do the same except with your smartphone (we advise taking the time to do your research on its legality, though).
Would you want a police scanner? It depends, but hey, if you have read this far, then why not go for it, right? Maybe you just want to be more grounded regarding the things that are happening around you, especially when it concerns public safety, just like you would with radar detectors if you are cruising. It can give you a chance to be more aware of what goes through your community, with signals that are publicly available anyway and would not compromise official operations of course. A hobbyist, meanwhile, might be looking to further legitimize this pastime. If you have professional needs that require the use of a police scanner, then you are also in the right place. This page collates everything that might be useful for you as someone who has a necessity for a police scanner.
Who can you listen to, exactly, once you get ahold of the best police scanner? It depends on your location, but for casual users, listening to calls made by police and fire stations may be the primary intention. However, they may talk in codes, so make sure you do read the explanation of the codes here. You can hear from those originating in hospitals, railroads, traffic control, or any establishment that depends on the services of a guard. Essentially, you can listen to anyone communicating through two-way radios, but of course, your distance matters in the signals your device may be able to gather. It is no wonder why even in this day and age, many find conversations listened through on scanners to be rich, and even legitimate sources of information. More often than not, these are people exchanging legitimate yet not extremely sensitive information anyway, rather than being two teenagers who have decided to do a prank. But that does not mean there are no funny gems, though.
With the different kinds of people using them, and for different purposes as well, we know it might be confusing to decide which police scanner you should end up using. The manufacturers are also reputable companies themselves that you can trust, and the number could make zooming in on a particular model harder.
And then there are different types of scanners to choose from, depending on where you intend to use it. Would you be at the comfort of your own home, or do you intend to listen to it while you are driving to make sure that your use of laser jammers remains within the limits of the law? Do you need a basic device, or would you benefit more from an advanced scanner? Will you be sharing such a device with other members of the family, or will it be exclusive for your use? The type of radios you want to eavesdrop into also matters. Are they analog or digital, maybe trunked? Convenience in the use of police scanners is further extended into the ease of programming one so you can go through the signals you need. How far are the signals you would want to reach? The location of your house as well the surrounding features will affect the performance of your equipment, so you would understandably want something that will allow you to reach as far and wide as the current technology would allow.
If you are concerned by how legal the activity is, then you can rest easy knowing that it is not illegal, at least in the United States anyway, where radio frequencies are largely considered to be public property—there should be no repercussion in using it unless one twists its purpose for unlawful means. We have that covered and more just in case you need more legal information on what you are about to try out.
Getting into police scanners and listening to the signals it gathers, whether as a hobbyist or a professional, is just the first step of many decisions. There are things to consider beyond deciding to purchase one for your use, and it is easy to find yourself in the middle of it all, overwhelmed. Stay with us and we’ll fill you along with information that will make your purchase something you would not regret.