We reviewed every police scanner to arrive at Jen’s Top Pick for the best police scanner: the Whistler WS1040 Digital Handheld Scanner. This handheld police scanner compensates for low audio levels with its outstanding Digital AGC feature. Moreover, the frequencies used by most storm spotter networks can be accessed on the go using the Skywarn Storm Spotter Functionality. Also, it has Scan List functionality so you can scan objects, group them or arrange as you like and the menu is very helpful with every line of text giving you the best assistance possible. In fact, programming the scanner is very easy due to being menu-driven and user-friendly. In fact, with the Free-From Memory Organization feature, you can allocate memory more efficiently and this is what makes it unique compared to older scanners that waste memory banks even if they are cheaper.
Our step-up pick is the Uniden BCD996P2 Digital T.T. IV Close-Call and it has 25,000 channels that were dynamically allocated. It also has a 4-line Alpha display and it can follow communications on systems such as Motorola, Phase 1, Phase 2, edacs, apco 25, Itr trunked systems, x2-tdma and many more. It uses an advanced dynamic memory system and is highly compatible with GPS. Signals for nearby transmitters can be easily tuned on using the Close Call RF capture technology.
The budget pick is the Whistler WS1025 Analog Desktop Scanner and the priority channel feature allows you to automatically check a single channel while scanning every 2 seconds. You can easily find unlisted and new frequencies when you enter a specific frequency. It is programmable through any PC so you can backup existing data and update the police scanner’s database and it also has a delay scanning feature so you will hear replies from the other party due to the 2-second delay before moving on to the next channel. In fact, you have the option to lock-out specific channels or frequencies while the police scanner is doing its searching or scanning.
Table of Contents
- A Little Background
- How we picked
- Our pick
- Flaws but not dealbreakers
- Step-up Pick
- Budget Pick
- Police Scanner with GPS
- Best Preprogrammed Police Scanner
- Police Scanner with Digital and Analog Trunking
- Best Weather Alert Police Scanner
- Best Mobile Police Scanner
- Complete Police Scanner Bundle
- Best Handheld Police Scanner
- The Competition
- Other Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping it up
A Little Background
A police scanner is like a radio system except for the fact that it can actively listen to a wide range of bands of frequencies. The purpose of a police scanner is to listen actively on your neighborhood without as much moving a mile or so. Policemen often use this as well as security guards who are patrolling a certain area and are set to a variety of departments around a building, a vicinity, a park or any other public place where security is highly needed. The police scanner is a form of communication that is free and does not depend on cellular sites, let alone WiFi, hence making it highly used by the military, the government and any crew that are needed for security measures around your area or vicinity.
Police scanners are highly important in patrolling and keeping an area secured from crime, accidents and weather disasters. Whenever something happens around your neighborhood, you will most likely hear signals from nearby objects to alert you of the said situation. This is a very helpful way of keeping your eyes on patrol for the whole neighborhood or area to be safe. During typhoons, hurricanes, storms and whatnot, you can also use a police scanner to actively listen to storm signals and if there will be threats of landslides, floods and such on any given area. Accidents on the road and traffic will be avoided because the police scanner will give you information on where to turn to instead, just like a GPS.
However, because police scanners can be used for spying, there should be local and national restrictions when using them. Spying and wiretapping is the number one issue for the police scanner and this is why there are restrictions. However, in countries in which corruption and workplace racism are the biggest problems, police scanners are very handy when it comes to being aware of your surroundings and being aware of what people are talking behind your back. Sure, it can invade personal privacy, but in some very rare cases, it can also be used to pin down under the table deals and wrongdoings by certain officers who are abusing their positions in the government.
Nonetheless, they are greatly needed for high-security events in communicating and actively listening to what is going on around you. Even if these police scanners are highly expensive, they do not rely on any cell site or whatsoever so you can actively listen and communicate anywhere. Only security personnel and government security bodies like the police, firemen, military and such are often privileged to a police scanner, but if you do have the necessary budget, you too, even as a civilian, can get your very own police scanner so you can stay alerted and quickly updated on what’s going on around you, even if you don’t get updated on Twitter or Facebook.
Policemen will do their job better if they can actively listen to an effective police scanner. The police scanner’s quality of audio and span of signal depends on its build quality so you should get a decent police scanner for its price and features. The audio quality is very important so you can discern as to where the event is taking place.
How We Picked
We chose the best police scanner based on the following criteria:
The police scanner should have wide range of frequencies and systems that it can receive and cover. Do know which frequencies the police scanner can work on and which systems (e.g. Motorola, Phase 1, Phase 2, EDACS, and many more) can the police scanner listen to.
If you are a beginner at programming, you should get a pre-programmed police scanner or at least something that is easy to program. Most people recommend an object oriented programming police scanner or a menu-driven police scanner. Policemen and firemen have a lot of jobs to do and programming is the less of their concern so you should totally get a preprogrammed scanner for your hassle-free patrolling experience. But for those who are more meticulous with air signals, they may still want to get a police scanner that is easy to program nonetheless.
There should be weather alerts that are possible to hear and receive from the police scanner. Weather alerts are the reason why some civilians also purchase a police scanner even at its high expense. This allows you to keep track of the weather and some accidents perhaps while on the road and driving in the open highway without as much as a cellular signal. Staying alert on the weather can help you to be warned as whether you should go ahead on an area or not. For instance, if there is a news flash of a hurricane that will hit your area, you should be best prepared. In the same way, police and fire brigades will also be alerted greatly for any distress signals on weather reports in an instant.
Do know how much objects you can store on the memory of the police scanner. The number of objects that the police scanner can scan and store, should be a lot and the memory should also be a lot in it s space.
A police scanner with AM and FM radio capabilities is a big plus. This allows the policeman or fireman to also listen and enjoy the benefits of great music even while active at work and patrolling around the neighborhood. FM radios often play music and this puts them at ease and helps them relax, whereas AM radios actively deliver the latest local and national news as well as side commentaries that will make policemen and firemen chuckle while waiting for work to be done.
Do know if the police scanner is capable of connecting to a GPS for location-based scanning and programming. This allows the police scanner to actively target your location so it can scan programs that are relative to your state or area, especially if you live in the U.S.
The display of the police scanner should not only backlit but also easy to read and easy to access. The backlit display of a police scanner helps a lot even in broad daylight so you can see what frequency you are listening on and you can also easily see the menus.
If the police scanner is portable, it should be easy to carry. Police scanners are quite heavier than mobile phones but they pack a lot of power, but if you intend to carry them around all day as a part of a patrol group, it should be easy to handle.
If the police scanner is mobile or desktop in its design, it should be easy to mount. Often, a police scanner comes with a mounting bracket or set so you can easily mount it over your dash or car desk.
Whistler WS1040 Digital Handheld Scanner
Our best police scanner is the Whistler WS1040 Digital Handheld Scanner in which the menu is very helpful with every line of text giving you the best assistance possible. Its low audio levels for most digital systems are compensated due to the Digital AGC feature. Moreover, with the Free-From Memory Organization feature, you can allocate memory more efficiently and this is what makes it unique compared to older scanners that waste memory banks even if they are cheaper.
The police scanner also hasScan List functionality so you can scan objects, group them or arrange as you like. In fact, frequencies used by most storm spotter networks can be accessed on the go using the Skywarn Storm Spotter Functionality. What’s more, programming the scanner is very easy due to being menu-driven and user-friendly. with this police scanner, the storage capacity in total is up to 38,000 scannable objects.
The Whistler WS1040 Scanner has a Spectrum Sweeper as well as a Skywarn button. It also uses Object Oriented programming to make it more user-friendly and it has the Phase I capabilities of the Motorla P25. This awesome police scanner is easy to carry at only 8 ounces and it can also pick up AM, FM and other digital frequencies. Overall, we can say that this police scanner is indeed great for those who do not want to have a lot of hassle when it comes to programming.
Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
The only known concern about the Whistler WS1040 Digital Handheld Scanner is that the scanner’s case may not be as durable as possible so it is recommended to get an external back case.
Uniden BCD996P2 Digital T.T. IV Close-Call
With our step-up pick, the Uniden BCD996P2 Digital T.T. IV Close-, signals for nearby transmitters can be easily tuned on using the Close Call RF capture technology. It is also highly compatible with GPS and it has 25,000 channels that were dynamically allocated. This police scanner can follow communications on systems such as Motorola, Phase 1, Phase 2, edacs, apco 25, Itr trunked systems, x2-tdma and many more and it has a 4-line Alpha display.
The police scanner by Uniden uses an advanced dynamic memory system. This police scanner helps you to keep proper track of most local events, weather and the like and is ideal for police cars. The Uniden BCD996P2 is greatly renowned for its accuracy and it also comes with a mount for putting it onto your cabinet or dashboard. A breakaway from traditional trunking scanners, the police scanner has a very nice sound quality apart from the rest.
Whistler WS1025 Analog Desktop Scanner
Our budget pick is the Whistler WS1025 Analog Desktop Scanner in which you have the option to lock-out specific channels or frequencies while the police scanner is doing its searching or scanning. Moreover, it also has a delay scanning feature so you will hear replies from the other party due to the 2-second delay before moving on to the next channel.
The priority channel feature allows you to automatically check a single channel while scanning every 2 seconds and the police scanner is also programmable through any PC so you can backup existing data and update the police scanner’s database. You can easily find unlisted and new frequencies when you enter a specific frequency. The Whistler WS1025 has a dedicated Skywarn button so you can actively listen to weather reports and storm warnings.
You will no longer feel bored as it also has an FM radio reception feature. It is relatively easy to carry at only 1.5 lbs. The police scanner is at 800 MHz and it is a great budget option for beginners in police scanners.
Police Scanner with GPS
Uniden BearTracker Mobile Tracking Scanner
An police scanner with a GPS scanner, the Uniden BearTracker Mobile Tracking Scanner is a great GPS enabled police scanner in which each system has quick keys with 10-channel group at 100 system quick keys. In fact, it can detect the signals from EDACS, Motorola and LTR systems using its TrunkTracker III technology.
This police scanner has up to 9,000 channels and it uses close call RF capture technology so you can see what is going on around your area from nearby transmitters. It also has a location-based programming system for automatically scanning based on where you are if you connect to a GPS receiver that is compatible with the system. Moreover, it has an advanced dynamic memory system. It has preprogrammed channels for U.S. states such as Highway Patrol, local police, DOT and many more and eliminates the need to program.
With this police scanner, it uses a channel number tagging system for easier and quicker access and it also works on EDACS ESK for 25 to 512 MHz, 768 to 960 MHz and 1.24 to 1.3 GHz, excluding cellular signals, UHF and TV. Additionally, it also has a temporary lockout for certain channels and it uses Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) Weather Alert system so you can tune in to weather reports based on your location and get emergency alerts or NOAA weather reports.
What’s more, the Uniden BearTracker uses alpha tagging and it has a sub-audible tone for system setting convenience. Additionally, it has a DCS/CTCSS Rapid Decode technology and it includes Uniden software so you can operate the police scanner on your PC. Moreover, it also has a band scope and it comes with a Priority ID scan feature. Being highly compatible with the BC-RH96 remote head, the police scanner weighs 5.3 lbs and it also has a scanner for public safety while it also has a volume offset for individual channels.
The police scanner comes with a 3-wire harness, a serial programming cable, an AC adapter, a power cord as a vehicle accessory, a mounting bracket, a user’s manual on the CD-ROM, antenna and documentation. One more thing to know about this police scanner is that it has a triple conversion and a pager screen. It also has an alphanumeric display with backlit keys and display. The scanner uses analog trunking and it comes with a PC cable.
Best Preprogrammed Police Scanner
Uniden BC355N 800-MHz 300-Channel Mobile Scanner
The Uniden BC355N 800-MHz 300-Channel Mobile Scanner is an ideal preprogrammed scanner which has up to 300 channels and is a great police scanner that is for beginners. It uses close call RF capture technology.
It has a temporary lockout feature and it is preprogrammed for most police services as well as CB, marine, emergency services, fire, weather and aircraft bands. In fact, you can also search lockouts as it covers all of the action bands. Great for both mobile and home use, the Uniden BC355N Mobile Scanner reaches from 25 MHz to 956 MHz excluding cellular bands and is easy to carry at only 2.9 lbs.
The scanner also has a backlit display for your convenience and it has AC adapters as well as a DC power cable. The scanning speed is up to 100 channels per second on maximum and the scanner has narrowband mode and steps. Moreover, it includes an automotive power outlet plug and you can easily keep track on whatever is happening around your area. Also, it does both Phase 1 and Phase 2.
Police Scanner with Digital and Analog Trunking
RadioShack Pro-668 SCAN IT Digital Scanner
A multi-system that runs on digital and analog trunking, the RadioShack Pro-668 SCAN IT Digital Scanner is a handheld device that makes a great police scanner. In fact, it also uses Spectrum Sweeper technology to help you find nearby signals without having to enter a specific frequency. You can upgrade the DSP firmware, CPU and library by choice.
This police scanner has a sub-audible decoder for DCS and CTCSS and you can easily save your memory to data and upload to the Pro-668 using the V-scanner technology. What’s more, it also has a BNC male antenna connector and you can put 1 zip code at a time. The transmission can be recorded using its recording function and the automatic programming is location-based so it is beginner-friendly.
As for the capacity, the SD card size is 2 GB and it uses a SAME weather receiver as well as signal decoding for all hazards. Being very easy to program, the multi-line display is very helpful.
Best Weather Alert Police Scanner
Whistler WS1025 Analog Desktop Scanner
For weather alerts, you can depend on the Whistler WS1025 Analog Desktop Scanner. In fact, this police scanner has up to 500 channels and it comes with a handy alarm clock. Additionally, it also has a convenient weather alert and it includes an FM broadcast radio scanner.
Moreover, the Whistler WS1025 complies with Narrowband as well. Generally great for use on police, fire, air, marine, emergency and other fields, the scanner has up to 10 banks. In fact, you can also tune in to NOAA weather broadcasts. For the specs, the AM broadcast range is from 530 to 1,700 KHz or 25 to 54 MHz while the FM broadcast is from 88 to 108 MHz, 225 to 380 MHz, 180 to 174 MHz and 406 to 512 MHz conveniently, it comes with 4 AA batteries and it is both Phase 1 and Phase 2.
Best Mobile Police Scanner
Uniden BC365CRS Clock/FM Radio Scanner w/Weather-Alert
The Uniden BC365CRS Clock/FM Radio Scanner w/Weather-Alert is a police scanner that is meant to be used for your patrol mobile or desktop in which the CPU firmware is upgradable. It has up to 200 scan lists and the DSP Firmware and Library can also be upgraded fully.
It also has application software (WS1095) for the PC included for PC scanning and the user interface is very easy for beginners. The functionality for the P25 is highly improved as the scanner comes with a full USB interface. It also has a Skywarn Storm Spotter feature and it also comes with an outstanding Spectrum Sweeper. Moreover, it has a detach face as well.
You can great sound quality in both digital and analog signal as the radio frequencies get updated on a weekly basis. The Uniden BC365CRS Scanner w/ Weather Alert has a ton of mounting options.
Complete Police Scanner Bundle
Uniden HomePatrol-2 Touchscreen Phase-II Digital-Scanner BUNDLE
Are you looking for a complete police scanner set? Go for the Uniden HomePatrol-2 Touchscreen Phase-II Digital Scanner BUNDLE. This police scanner is a bundle with a GPS receiver (BC-GPSK serial) and it greatly supports trunked channels from Motorola, P25, EDACS, EDACS ESK, Phase 1, Phase 2 and many more.
In fact, this police scanner bundle works on frequencies between 25 MHz up to 960 MHz not including cellular bands as it comes with easy to use on-screen controls to let you easily access various menus. The GPS receiver has a weatherproof design during emergency situations and the magnetic base keeps the GPS receiver in place.
What’s more, it has a quick hold feature so you can lock and hold onto any channel, department or system. The HomePatrol-2 will automatically keep you updated on the road using local traffic and weather updates and the scanner uses the All-Hazards alert system of the National Weather Service. Conveniently, you can also record alerts in case you miss them.
Best Handheld Police Scanner
PRO-651 Handheld Radio Scanner
The PRO-651 Handheld Radio Scanner has a digital interface of 700 MHz and this police scanner has preprogrammed frequencies for your convenience. In fact, it can store up to 1,800 objects in the scanner’s main memory and it can trunk all the 3 popular types of systems.
This scanner uses an object-oriented programming that is menu-driven as its object memory is up to 39,000. It also comes with a 21 V-scanner memory. Moreover, this digital police scanner can receive both analog and digital signals and it can also be manually programmed.
Other police scanners out there that did not match our criteria lacked a lot of important details when it comes to their reliability and wide range of scanning as well as memory and storage and also when it comes to the ease of use and ease of programming.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a police scanner and what is it used for?
A: According to Ham Universe , a police scanner is usually called a live action radio which alerts people of emergency situations and is often used by police, fire brigades, military crew and many others. In fact, it is a highly important gadget to own when it comes to security and safety. Generally, most large establishments that have patrol groups need a police scanner so they are alerted for events and disasters.
You should also know that a police scanner works like a regular radio except it can reach more bands of frequencies so you can actively listen to just about anything on the air. In fact, you can listen to alerts by the local weather station or the national weather bureaus in your country, state or area.
Do know that police scanners can come in either handheld or desktop. The handheld ones are the ones you often see from security guards, security personnel, bodyguards and much more whereas desktop police scanners are usually found on a police mobile for actively listening while cruising through the highway and patrolling.
It is important to know that some scanners are also pre-programmed depending on where you live. If you live in the U.S., you can get a pre-programmed scanner so you can locally scan without having to program it. What’s more, digital scanners can receive both analog and digital signals.
Q: What are the advantages of using a police scanner?
A: According to Zip Scanners , police scanners provide information to the local authorities when something has happened on the road. Disasters are reported by the local or national weather bureau so that the authorities can go to the affected area immediately and local crimes can be easily resolved with the help of police scanners.
In fact, even civilians can have their own police scanners, if they can afford, so they can actively stay safe around their neighborhood and know what’s going on around them. Generally, police scanners are important for large crowds and high-security events.
Wrapping It Up
To top it off, the Whistler WS1040 Digital Handheld Scanner is our best police scanner whether you are part of the police force or just curious at the happenings around you, or if you absolutely need high-end security without depending on mobile phones.