Police Scanner Frequencies: A Must Know For Scanner Users
RRD is reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Read more.

Police Scanner Frequencies

There are many police scanner frequencies used by law enforcement, fire departments, and other similar public services, especially depending on which city or county you live in. 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 County 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.

How to find police scanner frequencies?

Well, the easiest way is asking a retailer of the police scanners. Local directories also help you find the information you need, since the frequency depends on which county or state you live in. 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 scanner frequencies by states, metro areas, zip codes, and also tools that help you search trunked radio information like talk groups in your area. But we find that inputting your county or state on a website’s search function is the easiest way to do it.

Additionally, there are apps for these too. Simply input your state, city, or county to get the results and listen to transmissions in your area.

What frequencies do scanners use?

A scanner radio uses several frequencies. A common way to find them is by using a local directory. Here are some common ones for your information:

  • 46: This is the inter-department emergency frequency for communications by both, the local and the state 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 frequency. Many emergency communications of the state and local officers happen over this.

There are many other frequencies especially depending on which area you live in. Note that the scanners are devices that “scan” and not impose audio on airwaves themselves, so it’s a tricky thing to say “what scanner frequencies do law enforcement officers use” because they’re simply listening in. 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 frequencies?

Programming the frequencies for a scanner is pretty much building a functional superb scanner yourself. Here’s all the information you need to know.

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

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

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 every channel in your local area.

The use of a scanner to search for the frequencies is restricted in five states in the States if you’re on an automobile. For your safety, please check your state laws to get more information.

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

How can you listen to police frequencies?

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

Now, program those frequencies in your scanner. Without any hassle, you can now listen to communications. Just make sure you’ve got a proper antenna installed in your scanner or listening to a frequency 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). Other frequencies like, fire, EMS, and aviation may also be on there.

How to hack police frequencies?

This is not illegal. You can hack using devices other than 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 scanner. It’s legal and simple. Now, what if you don’t have a police scanner radio for these frequencies? That’s why you can use other devices to hack into the spectrum beyond FM. What you have is a radio 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.

William