What is a police scanner used for?
A “police scanner” is actually another term for a radio frequency scanner. It can be used to not only monitor local first responder, but weather, various types of local radio traffic as well marine, railroad and aircraft frequencies. Fostoria Police Scanner .com offers pre-programmed radio frequency scanners.
What is a Digital Police Scanner?
A police scanner, also known as a “radio scanner,” is a device which allows you to listen in on conversations between police, firefighters, and other emergency responders and agencies near your location. With it, you can monitor trunk systems or single channels so long as they are transmitting in unencrypted P25.
As mentioned previously, there are both digital and analogue police scanners (Fostoria Police Scanner .com offers both analog and digital scanners). Most cities are now switching over from analogue to digital, largely to digital phase 2 (more on that later). This allows for better coverage and reliability along with superior voice quality.
Analogue transmissions also cannot be scrambled, whereas digital transmissions can be encrypted. Through digital systems, everyone is also assigned an ID, so it is possible for agencies to identify and remotely disable unauthorized radios. With a digital police scanner, you can listen to digital, analogue and trunked transmissions.
Are Police Scanners Legal?
The short answer is no. Operating a police scanner is legal in the United States according to the country law. Generally, it will not have the authorities surround your house and then jail you for using a police scanner. There are a few more certain conditions that have to be fulfilled before the police can penalize you. And yes, hearing and learning what these conversations constitute will not necessarily have you incarcerated.
You see, there is a given understanding that everything relayed through the signals a police scanner can pick up is public property. In the United States, the airwaves are not presumed to be private, as stated in the 1934 Communications Act. For others that require more confidentiality like the military, their bands will not be easily accessible through a police scanner, or even through a mobile phone. And for instances where private information has to be communicated from one state personnel to another, a more secure channel will be used.
The use of police scanners is also protected under the Freedom of Information Act because the information that is being exchanged through the airwaves are considered to be of public interest. This is also the reason for private citizens as well as certain professionals to take upon police scanners. Besides people taking interest over what is being transmitted over airwaves and considering doing so a hobby, others benefit from listening to the audio feeds. During emergencies, those tuning in can have a better idea of what is happening in their surroundings, although some of these might be coded, and journalists can have direct sources for their reports. You can check our dedicated page for police scanner codes for more details.