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Police Scanner Frequencies

There are many police scanner frequencies. Some state frequencies while some are by metro areas. Let’s take a quick example. In the state of Alabama, there are many sets of frequencies. Now, if you want to listen to the Dallas Country frequencies, you can tune in to:

  • 80000: The sheriff dispatch, RM-type with WPUF523 license. It’s the Dallas SO 1.
  • 50000: The Fire VFD dispatch, RM-type with KNAU435 license. It’s the line of the Dallas County Fire Department.
  • Similarly, there are three more for Dallas County, and three more for Selma.

So, each frequency has a license and many have tones (like 110.9 PL for the Dallas SO 1. These are all mostly FM or FMN. All states have different frequencies for their regions.

How to find police scanner frequencies?

Well, the easiest way is asking a retailer of the police scanners. Local directories also help. But by far, the most accurate and the quickest route is to go with the internet.

There are many tools online that help you find frequencies by states, metro areas, zip codes, and also tools that help you search trunked radio information like talk groups.

What frequencies do police scanners use?

Police scanners use several frequencies. A common way to find the frequencies is by using a local directory. Here are some common frequencies:

  • 46: This is the inter-department emergency frequency for communications by both, the local and the state police forces.
  • 160: This frequency is open to all departments, facilitating inter-department emergency communication in times of search and rescue operations.
  • 475: This is a more common police force frequency. Many emergency communications of the state and local police forces happen over this.

There are many other frequencies that police scanners use. Note that the police scanners are devices that “scan” and not impose audio on airwaves themselves, so it’s a tricky thing to say “what frequencies do police scanners use” because they’re simply listening to those frequencies. If you’re interested to know about object-oriented scanning and which models use it, see a short discussion on our Whistler TRX-1 review.

How do you program police scanner frequencies?

Programming the frequencies for a police scanner is pretty much building a functional superb police scanner yourself. Now, let’s get on with it.

You first need to identify the frequencies or the channels that you want to listen to. Tuning is important, you don’t want to capture all the signals in your local area. Also, note that you can only listen to local frequencies because scanners utilize radio waves. Once you have searched the area (again, many online sources help you search frequencies by state, metro area, zip code, etc.), you need to tell your scanner to listen to that frequency. This is the main part of programming the police scanner frequencies.

Plugin the scanner and connect the antenna to it. So far so good. And simple too. Now, there will be a programming button on your radio device or scanner. “Prog” or “PGM” are usual terms that mean the programming button. Press (or press and hold, as mentioned in the user guide or as told by the retailer of the scanner). Channel programming will enable now. A “CH” will flash on the display.

Here, you should input the channel number. It’s a three-digit number for your convenience. It’s like setting up a new preset that holds frequencies.

Now, you can enter the actual frequency number itself. The five- or six-digit number is the frequency number. Note the decimal. Now, press enter and you are good to go.

Can you get in trouble listening to police scanner frequencies?

It is always a federal crime to listen to phone calls. The specific laws differ from region to region across most of the countries. In the United States, different jurisdictions have different laws.

The use of a police scanner to scan the police frequencies is restricted in five states in the States if you’re on an automobile.

Different countries have different kinds of laws. For example, it’s legal to install and use any kind of radio that can receive the broadcast (except for private information) in Canada. In Australia, if a transmission is not “telecommunication,” you can have a scanner and listen to everything in your local area.

There is another option if you don’t have a physical police scanner. You can use a smartphone app that acts as a normal police scanner. Read our comparison here: https://www.ratedradardetector.org/police-scanner/best-app/

How can you listen to police scanner frequencies?

It’s easy. As I explained earlier, you can build a police scanner simply by programming a police scanner frequency in your scanner (that you purchase). You need to find the specific frequencies that you want to listen to (local area only). Use the internet, directories, or the retailer’s database to do that.

Now, program those frequencies in your scanner. Without any hassle, you can now listen. Just make sure you’ve got a proper antenna installed in your scanner or listening might be a little difficult. So we’ve also listed the best police scanner antennas for you.

On the other hand, there are also many websites that feature live audio (probably not real-time, but almost real-time, as there should be a lag between the signal reception, its conversion to web audio, and its live uploading that the server might limit if there are too many requests).

How to hack police frequencies?

This is not illegal. You can hack using devices other than police scanners, which devices then become police scanners themselves – as simple as that. For example, imagine listening to a police radio frequency in your area about local crime on your police scanner. It’s legal and simple. Now, what if you don’t have a police scanner for these police frequencies? That’s why you can use other devices to hack into the spectrum beyond FM. What you have is a police scanner that you built yourself, which might double as something else too, like a simple calculator.

Raspberry Pi is a good way to do this.

All you need to do is explore the VHF and UHF bands. This will enable you to listen to coded audio data. You can then decode these audio signals and effectively make out what the police are speaking about crime in your very area.

The steps involved are a little bit complex, but it’s easily doable nonetheless. Radio frequencies can be easily “hacked” into, for the lack of a better term.


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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