Whether you’re an off-duty officer, a public service contractor, or a concerned citizen, it always makes sense to keep track of what’s happening around you. If you want to be continually updated on your neighborhood’s status, you should find the best police scanner for your purpose.
Today, I will share the 12 top rated police scanners that I’ve seen in the market. These tools help me find and connect to the different frequencies used by my county’s emergency and public services and the neighboring ones.
I will share this police scanner review that I prepared and include some information about these devices as well.
- Best Police Scanner Reviews
- 1. Uniden Bearcat BC125AT Scanner
- 2. Whistler WS1025 Analog Scanner
- 3. Uniden BC355N Scanner
- 4. Uniden 885 CB Radio
- 5. Whistler WS1065 Scanner
- 6. Uniden BC365CRS Scanner
- 7. Whistler WS1010 Scanner
- 8. Uniden Home Scanner
- 9. Uniden BCD325P2 TrunkTracker
- 10. Whistler TRX-2 Scanner
- 11. Uniden BCD996P2 Scanner
- 12. Radioshack Pro-197 Scanner
- What to Look for When Buying a Police Scanner
- Other Important Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Police Scanner Reviews
1. Uniden Bearcat BC125AT Scanner
Uniden Bearcat BC125AT Handheld Scanner is a portable police scanner made by Uniden, a reputable name for radios known for its quality and budget-friendly products.
The first thing that impressed me about this radio equipment is its ease of use. The device already comes preset with ten different popular channels: Police, Fire or Emergency, Marine, Ham, Civil Air, Railroad, Military Air, CB Radio, FRS/GMRS/MURS, and even Racing search bands.
I find this feature very convenient – mostly because I want to listen to my preferred channels straight out of the box. I also discovered that around 40,000 frequencies could be tuned into, meaning that this Uniden police scanner is not limited to its preset frequencies.
Since I prefer things organized, the Alpha tagging feature is also a significant plus for me. It lets me assign names to my channels. With this, I never lose track of what I want to listen to regularly.
Another feature in the Uniden Bearcat that I love is the Close Call RF Capture Technology. I no longer have to manually find and tune to proper signals because it automatically locates and connects to the closest transmitters. However, if I need a little privacy, the “Do not disturb mode” is available to prevent a ‘Close Call check’ when I transmit.
There was one time, during my patrol, that the Weather Alert Technology beeped in and sent me an alert for an incoming storm. That was a lifesaver for me because it allowed me to prepare before natural disasters hit.
Since it’s a handheld device, bringing it with me anywhere was never a problem due to its lightweight and compact design. I can say that it is indeed a portable and reliable scanner.
The only thing that bothered me about this product is its charging system. The USB cable charging feature also only works when the unit is off, meaning I’m not updated when I’m recharging the radio.
2. Whistler WS1025 Analog Scanner
The Whistler WS1025 Analog Desktop Scanner is something I can highly recommend. I have been using it for a while, and have been totally satisfied with its performance. It has first-rate features that I find very convenient to use, like programming and directly creating backup data from my PC. I can easily tune in to new channels and save them for quick browsing later.
I also find the lock-out feature advantageous – that way, I can avoid connecting to reserved frequencies like military or other confidential operations during scanning. Speaking of scanning, the two-second delay is a good detail for me. This allows me to hear if the scanned frequency will have replies before the device moves to the next one.
The Weather and hazard detection or alerts work well, and I considered it a very dependable feature, especially if I’m on the road. It allows me to be ahead of all the happenings in my area and makes me feel safe. This is especially useful when my phone is dead or out of coverage.
I love the Priority Channel feature because it enables me to check one channel every two seconds while scanning – ensuring that I can monitor events within my area while still maintaining situational awareness.
3. Uniden BC355N Scanner
I purchased this Uniden BC355N scanner after going through reliable reviews about it. Uniden is a known brand in making these cop scanners for car types, so I took this advantage. This particular model that I bought came with many updated features but is still compact and user-friendly, especially for first-time users.
What amazes me is that it scans almost instantly. Based on my experience, it can search up to 100 channels per second and automatically tune in to the active frequencies in my location.
Uniden’s Close Call RF Capture Technology keeps me updated on all events, including emergencies in my area, with just a single click. It will search for and tune in to any signal from nearby transmitters like ambulance or emergency, fire, local police, marine, local weather, and aircraft frequencies. That feature alone makes me really satisfied with my purchase.
I can also selectively save frequencies that I want to regularly keep up with. I can store up to 300 channels, and that doesn’t even include the preset ones. With that, I can conveniently browse only among the channels that are important to me.
For its physical aspects, the backlit display is a plus, making it easy to use in any lighting environment. This is vital, especially at night, when I want to know what happens around me when I’m on the road or even before I hit the sack.
Also, its charging capability is commendable. I had no problems recharging it, even while I’m using it in my car or home. I don’t have to worry about running out of power even if I’m using it for long hours.
4. Uniden 885 CB Radio
The Beartracker 885 Hybrid Full-Featured CB Radio is a candidate for the best digital police scanner in the market today due to its multiple functions, making it a highly dependable unit.
One of the things that makes this new police scanner model stand out is that it allows me to catch up with the US and Canada’s recent public safety activities. It scans law enforcement, fire, ambulance, DOT radio traffic, and local weather alerts and allows me to be updated with the latest information.
I’m also impressed with the BearTracker Warning System; it alerts me whenever it detects or receives a nearby public safety transmission, thus increasing my response time’s efficiency. Plus, it includes a GPS receiver for location based scanning that allows automatic monitoring of nearby channels.
It operates up to 40-channels with 4-watt RF power, including an SWR meter for better tuning precision. The display has seven varieties of color, which I love to customize depending on my mood. It is also worth mentioning the ergonomic microphone with a noise-canceling feature that promotes better audio transmissions even in a rackety environment.
This scanner’s design works simultaneously with CB radio features, meaning that there’s no need to select which mode I use first. I can automatically listen to my chosen channels with just a single tap on the button, without deactivating the CB features.
5. Whistler WS1065 Scanner
For my colleagues and friends who looked for a digital scanner, I suggested the Whistler WS1065. Its display that allows for help text lines to be shown during programming and scanning is a great feature.
I also find it easy to scan and arrange channels according to my preference with its Scan List functionality. On top of that, its memory backup feature allows it to store frequencies for an extended period, even without batteries.
Despite its simplistic design, it has some innovative features – like Free-Form Memory. It allocates memory as efficiently as possible, allowing it to store 1,800 frequencies. It also lets users search for frequency transmissions nearby, and once found one, it will automatically jump to the channel. That’s such a fantastic feature!
One of the primary reasons I bought a scanner is mostly for local weather updates. When it comes to that, you can never go wrong with this model, for it has a feature they called Skywarn Storm spotter function. This allows me instant access to frequencies used by storm spotter networks.
Another thumbs up feature this product has is its Digital AGC. It instantly addresses low volumes, which are common in digital systems, making the audio louder and easier to understand. Lastly, it can scan most of the trunked radio system signaling formats, including Motorola, LTR, EDACS, and P25 trunked radio networks. It also supports individual call monitoring as well as talk groups.
6. Uniden BC365CRS Scanner
The Uniden BC365CRS 500 Channel Scanner is created by one of the leading scanner brands in the industry. That’s why many of my friends and I use it. But what’s unique or different about this model? I found out when I had a chance to use this specific device.
I noticed that it can hold up to 500 channels in 10 banks. On top of that, it can easily search for bands commonly used for Fire & EMS, Police, Aircraft, Marine, and Amateur Radio. Moreover, its built-in FM radio with 30 presets allows me to tune in to the local radio channels that I want to listen to.
Another exciting innovation this product has is that it can wake me up using my favorite FM station or local weather channel. It also has snooze and sleep modes as well. With all of that, I don’t need to worry about missing out on anything.
In terms of reliability, it has never let me down. Its weather alert system informs me of dangerous conditions within the area, ensuring my safety when there’re natural disasters.
It has a wide scanning range. The scanner can monitor frequencies like 25-54 MHz, 108-174 MHz, 225-380 MHz, and more. I’m sure that I won’t miss out on information and stay connected to my surroundings.
Other thumbs-up features in this product are its LCD and well laid-out buttons, which make using it easy even at night.
7. Whistler WS1010 Scanner
While I don’t consider any single model as the best handheld police scanner, the Whistler WS1010 comes pretty close. You can never go wrong with this product in terms of efficiency. For example, its Lock Out feature simplifies scanning by skipping some specified frequencies, thus saving time.
What’s more impressive about this product is its 200-channel memory with 10 storage banks for my preferred frequencies. I don’t need to limit my choices because I know I have enough to spare.
Speaking of channels and scanning, the Whistler WS1010 has a scan delay feature. The scanning is delayed for 2 seconds for replies before it resumes. Not to mention, it also has a Priority Channel function. What it does is it enables the scanner to check a frequency every 2 seconds. I can also update, back up, and set frequencies data through my PC.
But what’s amazed me the most about this product is its reliability. It has the SAME and All-Hazards Weather Alerting system, which helps me stay informed on storms ahead of time. On top of that, its dedicated Skywarn button allows me to instantly connect to the frequency with a single click.
I can also say that this scanner radio is tough. Although it’s not weatherproof, I’ve been through multiple outdoor situations with this device, and it held up reasonably well. I’ve been using it for years, and I expect to use it some more in the years to come.
8. Uniden Home Scanner
The Uniden HomePatrol-2 enables me to stay informed of events in my vicinity. That’s why this is a must-have device for me, especially during storm season or travelling.
One factor why I prefer this over other digital trunking police scanners is because it’s user-friendly. You don’t have to be tech-savvy to use it – just enter your zip code, and you’re all done. It can also use a GPS receiver for location-based scanning.
Of course, I cannot overlook the technological innovations in this product – like my smartphone, this device has a digital touch screen. It’s effortless and intuitive to use; you don’t have to be a tech geek to get the most out of the scanner.
Besides that, I could save my favorite channels for quicker selection and avoid stations that I don’t want to hear. I can also tune to my local fire station, local police department, or any two-way radio transmissions. And for the cherry on top, its Sentinel PC Software lets me manage my list of favorite channels, firmware or database updates, and more.
Another innovation that I love is its ability to record up to 1000 sessions of news audio and save it for later, so I don’t have to worry about missing any important announcements. Speaking of recording, it also automatically records all alerts. When on standby, it will alert you to NOAA All-Hazards Alert Broadcast.
9. Uniden BCD325P2 TrunkTracker
I consider the Uniden BCD325P2 Handheld TrunkTracker as the best handheld scanner for me. Its simple interface makes it easy to use, but it also has multiple functions that the advanced user could utilize to customize their experience.
This handheld device incorporates three Uniden innovations: the Close Call Technology, the Advanced Dynamic Memory System, and GPS compatibility.
I like the Close Call RF Technology as it automatically tunes with the signals nearby. It works in the background and automatically connects to nearby transmitters within its range. This feature helps me save time in locating and communicating with other radio transmitters.
Another groundbreaking feature is its GPS compatibility. By accurately detecting my current location, it enables location based scanning to find local channels automatically. This helps me connect to other operators when I’m traveling – and it’s also useful for EMS personnel to tune in to other service channels without needing to memorize their frequencies.
Besides those features, the Uniden also has the Quick-key System Access, enabling instant access to selected frequencies, up to 100 channels. It’s also compatible with the NOAA SAME Weather and Emergency Alert System, allowing me to prepare for critical meteorological events in advance.
10. Whistler TRX-2 Scanner
The Whistler TRX-2 is one of, if not, the best home police scanner I’ve used in recent times. Its button layout, decent screen size, and auxiliary plug make it an excellent choice for a fixed base scanner.
The best feature that I love about this is its Micro SD slot. By placing a memory card, I can store up to 50 hours of audio – this is excellent if I want to review transmissions later on, especially when I’m away. I don’t even need an audio player because I playback the recording on the scanner itself.
Whistler TRX-2 also amazes me with its “alarm clock” feature. This function allows me to set a time for the radio to wake and start scanning. This is very convenient because I don’t need to manually set it up every time I want to monitor the airwaves.
Another feature that I find practical is its ability to detect and mask audio – that way, I can keep private conversations between parties confidential. It also can connect to both Radio ID and Talkgroup ID data embedded in voice packets, allowing me to quickly identify the current speaker on the frequency.
Finally, the Whistler TRX-2’s compact casing and modern design fit my operator station well. It’s programmable LED display can be customized to fit environmental conditions, allowing me to work efficiently in any lighting situation.
11. Uniden BCD996P2 Scanner
The Uniden BCD996P2 Digital Mobile Scanner is a classic digital trunking scanner with an advanced digital decoding system and a large memory bank.
I like this Uniden product because of its advanced dynamic memory system, GPS Compatibility, and Close Call RF Capture Technology. These features I’ve mentioned make my life easier and more convenient.
For starters, the GPS compatibility automatically detects my locations and connects me to nearby relevant frequencies. I no longer have to scan the area manually just to find local channels.
If I want to connect to the nearest transmitting facility, the Close Call RF allows me to do just that. Because of this innovation, I can find the signal nearest to me and communicate with that station.
Another plus for me with the BCD996P2 is that it gives me access to NOAA and the SAME Weather Alerts. Should any inclement or extreme weather occur in my vicinity, I can receive an immediate warning for it and prepare.
What makes this worth the investment is its ability to scan up to 25,000 channels. This makes sure that I won’t miss any transmission and connect to any nearby services, no matter what frequency they’re using. It also comes with complete accessories, such as the three wire harness, mounting bracket, and USB cable. Uniden has included everything I might need in the package.
12. Radioshack Pro-197 Scanner
The Radio Shack Pro-197 Radio Scanner is an excellent trunk scanner available on the market today. The feature that I like about this is the Specific Area Message Encoding, which helps you maintain continuous communication to specific frequencies set by county.
It stores up to 1,800 frequencies, allowing me to save and maintain multiple channels. I no longer have to keep a long, handwritten list of channels that I connect to with this feature.
And also, the thing that makes the Pro-197 stand out from other same purpose radios is its audio quality. And in my experience, audio quality can be a deciding factor when I pick a scanner, and I’ve always gone for this Radioshack model. Its high-quality speaker helps me understand conversations better and avoid garbled sounds and transmission errors.
It also has three function buttons under the display that instantly access the most critical options. I no longer have to dig through layers of the menu to change one aspect of the scanner. It also has on-screen help text so that I don’t have to open the manual when I want to access an advanced option.
What to Look for When Buying a Police Scanner
If you want to stay updated on events happening around your vicinity, a desktop or mobile police scanner is a crucial tool for you. Since these scanners will bring you up-to-date and vital information, you must also have a reliable scanner that will work with the frequencies your area’s emergency services utilize.
Different counties and government agencies use varying formats. There are currently four formats available – Analog, Trunked, Phase 1 Digital, and Phase 2 Digital. You have to know which is being used. For example, if you purchase an analog scanner and the local government uses a Phase 1 Digital frequency, you won’t detect their transmissions.
Try searching online on what format your local services are using even before choosing a scanner. But if you want to be sure, go for a scanner that can work with both analog and digital formats as almost everyone is upgrading to digital nowadays.
You also have to figure out where you’re going to install your radio scanner. If you’re going to place it at a fixed location, you can go for the police scanner for home use. But if you’re always on the go, like a trucker, then a cop scanner for car and truck would make more sense.
The power and size of these devices will vary, depending on the space available. A handheld radio is a much more portable option than a home device, but it’s a lot less powerful. The police scanner for car can be a good compromise between the handheld and the home scanner, but it still has to be connected to a vehicle.
Many police scanner models are available on the market, but I would recommend that you go for trusted brands such as Whistler, Uniden, and Radioshack. Don’t buy a police scanner online just because it’s cheap. Always read the reviews and make sure that you’re getting an original and brand new item.
You would also want to know the programming capabilities of the device that you’re choosing. Some basic models only allow limited functionality, and while it may not be a problem for new users, it might not suffice for some professionals. Hence, the chosen device should be able to pick multiple programs that support our duties.
This is important, especially if you’re always on the road. Having a large memory bank will allow you to save and preset multiple frequencies. For truckers who are frequently in different locations and cities, keeping the numerous channels they encounter for later use could be a lifesaver – especially in an emergency.
Whether you’re using the scanner at home, in the car, or in your pocket, having a complete accessory set is crucial. You wouldn’t want to purchase a scanner to find that it doesn’t allow AA batteries to be used as a backup. Be sure that whatever you’re going to use the device for, there is an available accessory for your intended application.
This is important, especially when one is working on a budget. However, going for the cheapest item doesn’t always mean that you’ll save money. Balance your budget with the reliability and features that you’re looking for. That way, whatever you purchase will last you for years to come.
Other Important Factors to Consider
I specifically do not name a specific model as the greatest police scanner for sale on the market right now. This is because everyone does not have the same need. Here are some other things that you should consider when you’re planning to buy a scanner.
What is the Best Police Scanner?
You can scour online for digital police scanner reviews, and they will come up with different options. I cannot advise a single scanner because people have different needs and requirements. You have to look at your application and your budget before I can even begin to suggest any model.
Who Is This For?
Radio frequencies are typically used by government and civilian agencies for fast and reliable local communication. Police, fire, EMS, military, and aviation services are some of the most prominent radio users.
A scanner is used to monitor these frequencies to be updated in local events. This is especially true for journalists and investigators, as well as private security firms. These devices help a person or an organization increase their situational awareness by keeping track of radio transmissions.
Radio scanning is also a popular hobby and lets people communicate with different communities via wireless radio signal networks. The NOAA and some state governments also use these networks to transmit weather and other relevant warnings.
Having a radio scanner will allow receipt of these warnings and help a community prepare for these events, especially if they’re beyond the reach of telephone and cellular communications.
How Does It Work?
Radio scanners automatically tune between two or more frequencies continuously. When it detects a transmission, it will hold that channel while scanning on other bands. Once the communication has ceased, the device will move on to the next available frequency.
This has been developed because public service radio systems do not continuously transmit. With a fixed radio frequency, transmissions on other channels will be missed – that is why the scanning radio has been developed.
This technology has allowed people to monitor multiple channels at once, without the need for multiple radio devices.
What are the Different Types of Police Scanners?
There are two ways of cataloging police scanners – the more obvious type is their portability and application, while the other is through their signal format.
Portability / Form Factor
- Handheld – these are the most portable devices. They can easily fit in a backpack or pocket and usually have a built-in or replaceable battery. This form factor typically has the least range, but they’re also convenient and easy to use.
- For vehicles – these types of scanners are specifically designed to fit in automobiles. They’re larger than the handheld models, and they do have more range.
- Fixed-base – these are the biggest, most powerful scanners available on the market. They also tend to be pricier than the smaller models. They have the furthest range and the most features, but they need to be plugged in an outlet or a generator to operate.
- Analog – these are the oldest scanners available, capable of detecting analog signals only.
- Trunked – this is a two-way system that uses digital control to assign frequencies
- Phase 1 Digital –uses a 12.5 kHz digital signal per single user to transmit and receive signals
- Phase 2 Digital – a more efficient digital signal utilizing the same 12.5 kHz frequency
If you want to be sure that you can get all the possible signals, you should opt for the Phase 2 Digital Signal as it is backward compatible with all the other formats listed above.
Why Do You Need a Police Scanner?
A police scanner is essential if you travel through long stretches of road or land which doesn’t have reliable communication services. That way, you can always be updated – whether there is a storm front coming or a temporary road closure, and other unfavorable road conditions a scanner is an excellent way to stay connected.
This is also essential if you want to listen to your community and local government’s latest updates. You can anticipate any circumstance if you’re alerted through the police and other emergency services transmissions.
Finally, this is also a crucial tool for those who need to be situationally aware. These include journalists, investigators, and private security contractors.
Frequently Asked Questions
This section will answer the most common questions my friends and colleagues ask me about scanners and radios in general.
What are the Most Trusted Police Scanner Brands?
The two best brands are Uniden and Whistler, although Radio Shack also makes some excellent models. Checking their collection then you can find the right police scanners available for your work.
How Much is a Police Scanner?
The price range of a scanner is from $90 to over $700. This varies with the features of the scanner and its size. Although fully-featured desktop scanners are the most expensive ones, some handheld devices can rival their prices because of the extras they offer.
Do Police Scanner Apps Really Work?
There is a police scanner app for Android that really works. However, it only relies on the information that police units and other services make publicly available. If you don’t have it installed on your smartphone, you can access police scanner online frequencies that are made available through police department websites and other services.
However, if you want to connect to other frequencies, like truckers’ channels or civil aviation channels, then a police scanner app for iPhone or Android will not connect to these channels.
Are Police Scanners Obsolete?
No, they’re not. Local police and other services still use radio frequencies, as they’re some of the oldest and most reliable forms of communication. Should natural disasters occur and disrupt telecommunications, the radio is still the easiest and most reliable way to get in touch.
In fact, agencies are now upgrading from analog and digital radio to fully-digital ones. Radio communication technology is keeping up with the times.
How to Use Police Scanners?
There are different ways to use a scanner – it all depends on the brand and model. However, most devices are typically easy to use. Just switch it on and then select the scan button, and it will automatically start looking for transmissions.
How to Care and Maintain My Police Scanner?
The most basic way is to keep it clean from dust and other debris. If you have a battery-powered device, make sure that it’s never drained. However, avoid overcharging the battery as well as it can overheat and cause damage to your scanner.
Always refer to your device’s manual on its care and maintenance so that you can make it last through the years.
Where Can I Buy a Police Scanner?
The best place to find a police scanner for sale is to visit your nearest electronics store. Most major retailers carry these devices, so you can order one from them. You can also check out online stores, but you have to be careful where you’re buying them from. Always read feedback and reviews on the item to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth.
No one model is the best police scanner on the market. Always take into consideration your needs, application, and budget before making a choice. Go for reputable brands and make sure that it ticks all the boxes before making any purchase.
If you’re not sure, try to visit forums and read through others’ experience before buying. But once you’ve made your decision, don’t wait any longer. Having a police scanner will increase your awareness and let you prepare for possible crises.
Richard Pennington is the one to consult when you need professional insight into electronics. With over a decade of experience in the field of electronics and communication engineering, he now serves as our chief content editor.
He is an advisor for multiple articles and videos with topics revolving around ham radios, electronics devices, and communication.