Best Police Scanners of 2019 [Digital & Analog]

“Where can I find the best police scanner?” It is a question that most first-timers and new users tend to ask. Fortunately, we’ve made this succinct guide to get you started.

Digital police scanners enable you to tune into workings of your city when out and about, your community and the world around you, automatic in detecting the EMS and Police signals in your area. These scanners are good reasons to keep you informed during emergencies and stay updated on nearby incidents.

There are several types of scanners, including handheld scanner type, or base mobile devices with bigger antenna, although mobile and base ones are usually more expensive. Base mobile type scanners, on the other hand, are convenient to carry and use even in your car. While there are hundreds of scanner kinds with various accessories, we’ve decided to review the top 7 police scanners in the market. We’ll show you their advantages, disadvantages, and a firsthand opinion from trusted consumers.

So let’s begin!

Top Police Scanners Reviews

1. Whistler TRX 1 – Best Police Scanner

Features:

  • Object-Oriented Capabilities
  • Scan sets
  • Weather alerts
  • Alarms
  • Monitors Encrypted Channels

Overview:

If you are looking for a high-end scanner with tons of features, the Whistler TRX 1 is a model you should look into. While this great police scanner is costly, it will perform better than budget models.

Compatibility

We like that the Whistler TRX 1 can be used to monitor encrypted channels. It is also able to tune into AM, FM and digital frequencies, thus, which makes it worth its money in value, monitoring, and compatibility.

It is even micro-SD card suitable! This improves its capabilities in several ways. For one, the SD card can store over millions of objects are among its accessories. With a 32 GB maximum, there is a lot of space available.

Also, you can save up to 200 configurations on the card. That way, if you wanted to revert to your previous customized settings, you could do so. This saves you from the hassle of having to reprogram the settings from scratch in manual mode.

Multi-Adaptable Scanner

Another thing we’ve noticed was that this is a multi-system adaptive scanner. Since it includes tech such as Motorolla P25 Phase I, Phase II, and DMR, X2-TDMA, it can monitor a few systems.

These include MotoTRBO, Hyerta XPT, MotoTRBO Plus, and NXDN. So you won’t have any issues about compatibility when using this scanner.

Consumer Opinion

Along with its adaptive compatibility, this scanner has an alarm clock, alarms, intuitive controls, and an extensive list. All of these features have been received positively by consumers, appointing the Whistler TRX 1 one of the best models on the market.

However, this is not recommended for beginners. Newbies found the programming of the scanner a bit complicated. We suggest that beginners either take a while to get used to the scanner or buy a cheaper scanner until you are ready to use it.

PROS:

  • Crisp sound
  • Programmable backlight
  • Suited with Micro SD Card

CONS:

  • Difficult to read display
  • Clunky Programming

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2. Whistler WS1040 – Runner Up

Features:

  • V-Scanner Technology
  • Sturdy handheld scanner type
  • Audible alarms and alert LEDs
  • 1800 storage
  • Benefits from storm watcher networks
  • Receptive antenna

Overview:

Good police scanners with good speakers and audio accessories can be hard to recognize. That’s why its advanced audio hardware is its highlight. Besides its sound reception, the Whistler WS1040 also offers better sweep. Those that usually sound fuzzy in sound come up clear on this scanner, thanks to its antenna.

Build Construction

First off, the WS1040 is larger than most handheld scanners. This is because of the large backlight keypad and display. It has a multi-color LED alert light that can be customized depending on the receiving channel.

If you don’t have this scanner yet, this can be a coveted feature for helping you determine the signal waves without even having to leave position. For example, green for police fire, and red for a County Sheriff and so on.

Easy Programming

Most advanced police scanners are difficult to program, but the Whistler has a user-friendly menu. It walks you through the installation process via a help toolbar. This makes it quicker to get used to the scanner and start inspecting vehicles with ease.

The Whistler WS1040 is designed to help scour in any environment. With its advanced Sky warn Storm Spotter technology, it can provide weather forecasts. 

Consumer Opinion

The Object-Oriented Interface was favored amongst most consumers. It has an excellent acoustical element; you can program it manually after you have read the instruction manual.

The only issue is that all of the menu settings and customizations can be complex for a beginner. We suggest you use software like Butel or WIN500 to help automate the device’s programming. HAM radio stations are a good place of reference to begin with.

PROS:

  • Extensive Frequency Range
  • Object-Oriented User Interface
  • Digital Data Cloning

CONS:

  • Overwhelming Programming Options

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3. Uniden HomePatrol-2 – (Alternative)

Features:

  • Quick-recording & playback
  • Instant replay
  • Simple programming and channel-finding
  • S.A.M.E. Alerts
  • Trunk Tracker V

Overview:

Third on our list is the Uniden HomePatrol-2 digital mobile scanner. Using the HomePatrol Universal Serial Bus cable, anybody can update their database. By typing in your zip code, you can look for channels within local areas. With this HomePatrol digital police scanner, you can join Phase-1, Phase-2, x2-tdma, ltr system, that means it is great to use at home or outside.

Ease of Use

The Uniden HomePatrol-2 has gained its reputation as a “simple program scanner.” Unlike competing scanners that try to fill this claim, the HomePatrol-2 fulfills it. It is a breeze to install, program, and use. Its battery lasts long too, while the included cable makes it easy to fill the battery up again.

While its ease of use is one of HomePatrol-2 ‘s standout capabilities, it has a few other hidden treats as well. S.A.M.E. alerts, TrunkTracker V, and the ability to receive coverage in the USA and Canada makes this an excellent scanner from HomePatrol regardless of your skill level.

Recording Functionality

If you need a tool for the documentation of what you’ve been hearing, the Uniden HomePatrol-2 has you covered. A micro SD card is included so you can keep your recordings later. You can activate it by pressing the record button.

The recordings reflect the unit information metadata and the recordings that reflect the traffic on-screen on this HomePatrol scanner.

Consumer Opinion

One consumer noted that the HomePatrol scanner does not identify encrypted radio transmission. Some of the communication channels are encrypted, not all of them. Just because a channel is on the radio reference database doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get info from it.

But, there were some minor flaws in the HomePatrol scanner’s control settings. For advanced use, these felt limited due to the inability to encrypt decrypted channels. Still, the Uniden HomePatrol-2 is a great option if you need a home scanner receptive enough to spot multiple traffic. The built-in antenna on this digital mobile scanner ain’t that good as well.

PROS:

  • Easy to use
  • Intuitive user capability
  • Enhanced Scanners

CONS:

  • Lacks command for experts
  • Screen is slow to respond

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4. Uniden BCD436HP Digital Handheld Scanner

Features:

  • Range management
  • Program-set panel
  • Quick replay
  • Multi-Site Trunking
  • Analysis mode

Overview:

For an all-purpose scanner, the Uniden BCD436HP is the best in its class. While the scanner has a higher price range, but the price reflects the powerful features that are equipped with this scanner.

Close-RF Capture

The company and brand of Uniden are known for its simple-to-use superb police scanners, and the BCD436HP is no different. It’s a balanced choice amongst this list. Don’t you want to inspect over tens of thousands of frequencies? With its Close RF Capture, if you see a transmission within your proximity, the scanner will tune to automatically receive it.

Trunk Tracker V is often featured as a high-end scanner. The BCD436HP also has it, rendering it easier to hear transmissions on the trunking organization. With this feature, more waves can be found with no problem.

GPS-Compatible

This is featured on the BCD436HP. Setting up theBCD436HP to function with GPS is effortless. And the GPS and the scanner works together so you’re always aware of your location while scanning relevant frequencies.

Consumer Opinion

Most of the consumer’s reviews of the BCD436HP have been mostly positive and some even recommend it. Here’s what the consumers had to say in their reviews.

Consumers liked the BCD436HP’s temporary avoid feature. As its name suggests, BCD436HP allows you to avoid or place unwanted communication in silent mode. In short, it won’t disrupt any frequency that you are currently in.

The best thing is that you can restore the system of the BCD436HP if you’d like to. The scanner will be brought back to normal cycling power once you turn off the short-term avoid function. This means you have additional options for this function. This is a great in ensuring that you have the right transmission.

PROS:

  • Time-stamping
  • Portable
  • Close Call RF Technology
  • LED

CONS:

  • Difficult for beginners

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5. Uniden Bearcat BC125AT

Features:

  • 40,000 Frequencies
  • Comes with a Do Not Disturb Mode
  • Includes both Military & Civil Aircraft Bans
  • Alpha tagging
  • Close-Call RF Frequency Counter

Overview:

The Uniden Bearcat 500 is a versatile scanner that has a solid grip and over 40,000 frequencies to listen to. It allows you to organize 500 channels by location, department, area of interest, or any other form you’d prefer.

Performance

Performance-wise the Uniden Bearcat 500 is highly effective. Reception-wise, the VHF-High can pick up broadcasts from police stations. Thus, you can use this scanner to hear anything from fire departments or air agencies.

The audio is good on this radio. The speaker is loud enough to be heard over radio noise. Cranking the volume settings to its highest, the scanner causes some distortion, but not too much to make it unintelligible.

LCD Screen

The device’s large screen is one of its standout features. On it, you’d see the alpha tag, frequency, mode, strength meter, number, and PL tone. Also, the LCD shows weather priority symbols, if it is activated.

We wish that we could dim the backlight. It is not too bright, but we wish we could save batteries. It would be nice if it can switch off the backlight by just pressing a button. Or you can program it to come on with keypress only, squelch only, or both.  

The side of the scanner has plastic molded grooves that enable the user to easily grip onto the scanner. It is well balanced when it placed upright on the desk. Also, it doesn’t tip over with its extended antenna.

Consumer Opinion

Direct access is one of the main reasons why consumers buy this scanner. For example, if you have the police on Ch.300. To directly go to it, click the Hold button, then the 300 buttons to reach the channel. Now that will be on Ch.300 waiting for a transmission!

However, some consumers have concerns with its connectivity. All of the police channels are encrypted, making it difficult to spot them. This is not a police scanner, but a specific frequency scanner.

PROS:

  • CTCSS/DCS features
  • Weather Alerts
  • Portable, lightweight design

CONS:

  • Weak Wifi connection

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6. Whistler TRX-2

Features:

  • Spectrum Sweeper
  • Removable magnetic head
  • IF Discriminator Out
  • Simple Zip Code Programming
  • DCS and CTCSS audible detector
  • Digital Scanning

Overview:

The Whistler TRX-2desktop digital scanner provides a different set of features than the TRX-1, but has the same overall excellence. The desktop designed for TRX-2 weighs 2.1 pounds and has a carrying handle, which acts as a small stand lift when placed on a flat surface. This showcases that external accessories to keep it upright won’t be necessary anymore.

SKYWARN Button

Additionally, there is a weather button and SKYWARN button to determine inclement conditions that will give reports hours before the news. For those trying to be notified quickly, it will give you reports in a real-time manner.

Scanning Capabilities

This adaptable scanner supports Phase I, Phase II, DMR, Motorolla P25 Phase I, making it capable of finding unencrypted systems such as:

  • Hytera XPT
  • MotoTRBO “Connect” Plus
  • MotoTRBO Capacity Plus
  • MotoTRBO Linked Cap Plus

Thus, you will be able to associate with multiple channels with this scanner. This places it a step ahead of its competitors. It can browse up to 70 channels per second. For high-speed link needs, the Whistler TRX-2 is the best option.

Consumer Opinion

Wondering what the consumers said about the Whistler TRX-2? Here’s a summary of their opinions:

Consumers like how the Whistler TRX-2 is pre-programmable with a nationwide database. It allows you to enter a zip code and will start surveying signals within the area. Some of them you might not want, so the device allows you to make customized profiles for your favorites.

Another reason why consumers like this scanner are its frequent radio-updates. It can also perceive via NXDN after installing the device’s firmware. Because of this, it is a no brainer while consumers frequently use this product.

PROS:

  • Free radio updates
  • Stores different functions with V Scanner
  • User-created profiles

CONS:

  • No third party software support
  • Backlight problems

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7. Uniden BCD996P2

Features:

  • Continuous band coverage
  • Trunk Tracker V
  • Location-Based Scanning
  • GPS compatibility
  • 24,999 Dynamic Radio Channels

Overview:

The Uniden BCD996P2 scanner is a full-sized digital kind is filled with a set of elements such as GPS control, Close-call, and more. If you need a replacement scanner, this is the right scanner for you.

Dynamic System for Memory

This scanner has an advanced-memory. It allows you to keep track of the weather and affairs ahead of the news, and is an ideal tool for police cars. The Uniden BCD996P2 is known for its accuracy and even features a mount to place it on the car’s dashboard or cabinet.

Reception

The Uniden BCD996P2 has 25,000 channels that are automatically allocated. It can follow signal communications such as Phase 1, Phase 2, Motorola, APCO 25, edacs, x2 tdma, ltr trunking systems and much more.

Consumer Opinion

There were mixed reviews about this scanner. Here are some of the consumer’s opinions on the Uniden BCD996P2.

You can use the digital police scanners in the car, making it amazing for mobile travel like the best police scanner apps. It has a set of 2 DC travel cords and one with a lighter plug, and it has an AC adapter. And it provides a bottom speaker that has a “deep bass audio sound,” which sounds like a loudness circuit on your stereo.

The BCD996P2’s Computer Control inspects nearby channels. And it has a Universal Serial Bus front port for programming and updating. With this feature, you would be able to link the scanner to your desktop computer.

On the other hand, there are some flaws associated with this scanner. Some experienced a small bug in the USB device. While it does give you information on local signals, it will stop working after its been plugged to your computer. Make sure you switch the scanner off and on to reset it.

The Uniden BCD996P2 can easily be programmed to find the soundwaves within their location. Consumers suggest using “Radio Reference” and “Free Scan” to help utilize the scanner. Basically, you would have a high-quality scanner the whenever you are on the road.

PROS:

  • Superb sound quality
  • Portable
  • Easily searches various channels
  • Designed and built with a clear display

CONS:

  • USB Driver doesn’t work occasionally
  • Transmission can stop in between
  • Keyboard malfunctions occasionally

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8. Uniden Bearcat BC75XLT

Features:

  • 10 Programmable Search Ranges
  • Close call RF Capture Tech
  • Allows programming of 300 Channels
  • PC desktop programming port & free software
  • 2 AA alkaline or Simple cord-charging

Overview:

The last on our list is the Uniden BC75XLT, a digital handheld type with a compact build that makes it portable and convenient for listening in any condition—even during disasters and extreme situations. It works awesome even in a moving vehicle, with new reports coming in from disaster response teams. In addition, it is simple to select bands with the BC75XLT, including NOAA broadcasts and other ones used by Amature Radio Operators. Guides on happenings, auto races and others can be heard with theBC75XLT too. 

Programmable Memory

The Uniden BC75XLT gives a convenient option of having up to 300 frequencies programmed into the scanner. This allows seamless switching to tune into various events after their nearest transmissions are saved in the BC75XLT. No need to waste hours looking for them.

Close Call and NOAA

The BC75XLT also monitors the weather with a capturing ability for wide and long-range frequencies, much earlier than the news. New owners will find it helpful, especially for a public-service worker that looks for any sign of risk and guides everybody in observing precautions with their vehicle, home, and family.

Consumer Opinion

Customer’s opinions on the BC75XLT vary, with many wanting to recommend the product and some finding it hard to operate the handheld scanner. However, the positive reviews seem to outnumber the negatives. Here are some of them:

The Uniden BC75XLT is a product that is easy to set up with mounting accessories, as well as reliable power in linking to signals even in a railroad vehicle or yard. People prefer it as it simply works while events are in action, but also the ease in the programming. Monitoring of frequencies isn’t that necessary in having to operate the BC75XLT because 300 spaces of memory can hold the channels.

However, on the account of some buyers, as they try mounting the BC75XLT they felt the poor construction of its body, simply made from plastic. Some even find it hard to market BC75XLT because, among other products, it has an incomprehensible manual.

PROS:

  • All-system compatible
  • Long battery life
  • Clear signal reception compared to other products

CONS:

  • Use isn’t allowed while charging
  • Bulky design, especially on the base part

Buying Recommendations

Still confused about which one of the greatest police scanners you should purchase? Here are some buying tips to help you pick which scanner on the market is the best for you.

How Police Scanners Work

If you know how AM/FM radio stations work, then you already know how scanners work. AM/FM sends broadcasts via radio waves. So are cellphones, CB radio, and television.

Radio scanners allow you to communicate with UHF and VHF range. This allows users to listen to conversations between sanitation workers, and emergency workers, and others within your community. If you’re not familiar with the police codes, check: https://www.ratedradardetector.org/police-scanner/codes/

Uses

Here are the most common uses of a police scanners:

  • Neighborhood watch
  • Hospitals
  • Dispatch centers and patrols
  • Corporate security workers
  • School structure
  • Radio hobbyists and home workers

Anyone involved in communications infrastructure or emergency response might use radio scanners – plus anyone in the area who is curious.

Frequency Coverage

Different agencies use different frequencies, and different scanners cover many frequencies. With the best police scanners, you can look up frequencies within your agencies that you’re into following.

Types of Radios

Conventional

If your scanner uses one frequency for each communication channel, it is a conventional radio system. You can’t use conventional radio scanners to hear a trunking conversation.

Trunk Tracking

With trunking or trunked radios, a myriad of agencies can use a few frequencies. This allows sharing in congested circumstances. Usually, trunking is found in urban areas. The trunked mechanism will pick up conventional ones, but trunking can’t happen vice-versa.

Modes

Digital

Most larger cities have switched from analog to digital. This new mode has better quality and signal response. Even while digital scanners cost more than expensive ones, you should shell out extra money to buy one used in your area.

Analog

Analog is the most basic, inexpensive, and common models of police scanners available. Analog scanners are usually found in smaller towns and rural communities. However, they won’t discern those that are being transferred via digital. Before you pick an analog scanner in the market, make sure it’s commonly used in your community.

Features

What should you look for when shopping for the ideal police scanners? Here is an overview that helps you make the best selection when doing product comparisons that are more than just accessories.

Lists & Banks

This lets you organize different categories into “banks.” For instance, you can store different frequencies such as Police Fire and Aircraft. If the scanner has Dynamic-Memory Allocation, you might also have Listed. This is similar to banks, except that users have authority over what channels are on each list.

Search Speed

This tells you how quick your scanner can search throughout channels. If you have hundreds of channels to survey through, having high speed is important. If you are listening to just 10 channels, check for a scanning speed around 16 scans per second. If you have more channels to view, you need a search speed of 50-100 channels per second.

Alpha Tags

Trunked systems allow the device to get the right mode for any available frequency. This lets people override the selection more if necessary.

Dynamic Memory

This gives people more supervision over their banks. When using a fixed-memory scanner, the banks have the same size. That means if all slots in the bank aren’t filled, it removes the remaining slots.

If your scanner has a memory system, you can customize the bank sizes so you can have room for smaller banks if you need them. This frees up slots for larger banks.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity is measured in microvolts. The greater the sensitivity, the lower the number. You want a scanner with higher sensitivity so you can hear radio transferral even if they’re weak. This is useful if you live in a rural environment or monitoring aircraft. Often this depends on the antenna, so make sure to get a scanner with reliable antenna installed, no matter if you’re using a handheld or base scanner. The antenna may be purchased as part of separate accessories.

Emergency Use

Some excellent police scanners are better designed for crises than others. If you want a scanner that works during a disaster, look for one that has automatic connections to a weather station like S.A.M.E.

Also, you have to consider battery life. Scanners that use AA batteries are easy to get power from. That can keep your scanner going for longer when disaster strikes. Most battery-powered scanners come with a cord to charge the battery too, so it is more convenient. The crucial thing here is to keep your batteries charged always.

Local Priority

There are thousands of radio channels out there. Finding a scanner that can detect local radio stations makes it easier to listen to radio source transmission. That’s what most people want to hear, especially police department broadcasts, not the police that are four cities away.

With GPS compatibility, you can make your scanner more optimized to your location.

Legality

The majority of what will be heard from your police radio scanner is legal to hear. Some unavailable communications are encrypted or scrambled communications. Besides, some laws prohibit using radio communication for financial gain or committing crimes.

State laws can impose additional restrictions on your scanner use, usually on scanner use to hear police radios on the network. Even with states with these laws, you can listen to police fire, air, and other configurations when you’re at home.

The information on scanner laws is a summary of the US scanner laws. It’s not supposed to replace an attorney’s counsel or act as legal advice. Most prosecutions are attempts to disclose phone calls to mess with privacy or tamper with law enforcement.

Scanners who listen to emergencies such as car accidents or house fires should not enter the emergency site. Listeners should not block access to the district officials who might be under space conditions.

Conclusion

Whether its a regular, portable handheld, base mobile scanner, this review has different kinds to help you buy the device you need for your personal use, inside the car or in public. For an overall high-quality scanner that can keep track of miscellaneous frequencies, go for the Whistler TRX-1.

However, if it’s your first time, the Uniden Home Patrol 2 or the Whistler WS1040 are good alternatives. Whichever one you choose, you’ll have a scanner whose offers and value will meet its price.

Do you have any questions about buying leading police scanners?

Tell us in the comments below.

William

This article is written by William Johnson, the founder of RRD. William is passionate about radar detectors. His interest in reviewing and testing radar detectors from different brands started nearly 10 years ago, when his own radar detector then (a cheap and brand-less detector he bought online) failed to detect and radar gun nearby.

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