Can you listen to police radio, and how exactly do you tune in? There are many reasons why someone might want to listen to police radio from time-to-time. It’s a great way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your area, and even enjoy some unique entertainment.
Listening to police radio can also be an exciting way for radio enthusiasts to keep up with the work of the law enforcement landscape, and other first responders. With the right tools, you can be the first to know about everything from thefts to fires in your area.
However, listening to a police broadcast isn’t as simple as turning on your car or home radio and switching to the right channel. You’ll need the right technology, and a little practice.
Here’s what you need to know about listening to police radio.
Is it legal to listen to police radio?
So, can you listen to police radio? First, it’s important to make sure you can actually tune into first responder broadcasts without getting into trouble with the law.
Whether or not you can legally listen to a police scanner will depend on where you are in the world. For instance, in the UK, it’s an offence under the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 2006 to listen to police radio without permission.
However, the switch to a new airwave system has made it almost impossible for everyday people to listen in the first place.
In Germany, it’s also illegal for private citizens to listen to the radio broadcasts of police, even if they do so unintentionally. If you’re found listening in, you can be punished with up to two years in prison, as well as a hefty fine.
In the United States, however, rules around listening to emergency broadcasts are a lot gentler. It’s legal to listen to virtually any broadcast in the US, and many police departments, fire departments, and ambulatory groups also use public channels for communication.
You’re even free to install your own police scanner in your home to listen in. Although some states do outlaw listening to police radio from your car.
Can you listen to encrypted police radio?
Although the rules around listening to police radio vary depending on where you are, there’s no country or city where you can legally tune into an encrypted broadcast. These messages are encrypted for a reason, and there are no apps or tools designed to specifically break through encryptions.
How can you listen to police radio?
If you’ve done your research and made sure you can legally listen to police radio, there are a few ways to get started. In the early days of the internet, many home police scanner owners streamed audio directly from their home radios, and anyone could listen in from a computer too.
These days, there are a couple of different options available. You can purchase your own dedicated scanning equipment, and search for the relevant channels, or you can download a special app for your phone and use this technology to search for information.
Let’s look at each option in a little more detail.
Listening to police radio with a scanner
Perhaps the most common way to tune into a police radio broadcast is with a dedicated scanner. These technology solutions come in a range of different forms, including large desktop scanners with a multitude of features, and small handheld equipment.
Before you start spending cash on the right technology, it’s worth considering which type of scanner is best-suited to your needs.
A handheld scanner is better for listening on the move, while standalone larger scanners may be intended for more in-depth searching. You’ll need to learn how to use your scanner correctly too. This means programming it to receive channels in your local area.
Typically, the technology available is relatively straightforward for beginners, and requires you to simply input your zip code.
Once your scanner is operational, it should be able to pick up all of the emergency two-way frequencies within a specific radius. You’ll need to spend some time tuning your scanner and skipping through channels to find the content you want to listen to.
Some products come with automatic calibration to help you find the clearest channels as quickly as possible.
Listening to police radio with a mobile scanner app
The evolution of new technology and smartphone solutions in the digital world has paved the way for an influx of new scanning opportunities. You can now download a police scanner app directly to your mobile app, without having to spend a lot of money.
There are various different app options available, some of which are free to access for casual listeners. However, you may need to pay a subscription fee to unlock certain features.
Using the app’s interface, you’ll be able to scan through various local channels. Many apps organize their channels according to a range of categories, such as “EMS”, “Police” and “Fire”. This ensures you can find the content most relevant to you at the tap of a finger.
Because mobile scanner apps aren’t restricted by the same range issues as traditional scanners, they also allow for more freedom when you’re listening to content. In some cases, you may even be able to check out feeds from other states, cities, or countries.
The app will require you to choose the location best-suited to your needs, so you can find out what’s going on in real-time.
Tips for listening to police radio
Listening to police radio can be relatively straightforward, provided you live in a country or state where it’s permitted for you to listen to broadcasts. Because many emergency service providers still use public radio frequencies, you may not need a lot of technical knowledge.
Here are some quick tips to improve your experience:
Switch on later in the day
It’s often a good idea to tune into radio apps and scanners at a later point in the day, after you come home from work. This is when the conversations start to ramp up.
In many locations, crimes are also committed in higher numbers in the evening, so you’re more likely to encounter something interesting.
Listen out during special events
If there’s a big event happening in your location, it might be worth tuning into your police scanner. Police officers are often dispatched in greater numbers to these events, and need to be able to communicate regularly.
You might hear something out of the ordinary, or discover something happening at an event before anyone else receives a news report.
Listen to the details
If you really want to get an idea of what’s going on in the criminal landscape in your area, it’s worth listening to the tone and content of the conversations you encounter.
It can be easy to tune out from routine calls, but pay close attention to when the conversations between the responding officers and dispatchers become more intense.
Tuning into police radio
So, can you listen to police radio? The simple answer is – it depends on where you live. Although there are apps and tools available all over the world to assist you in listening to emergency broadcasts, there’s a risk you could get into trouble if you’re found listening in some parts of the world.
If you are able to listen to police radio, it’s worth using your applications to listen into broadcasts from all over the globe. You may be able to stay up-to-date with major events and occurrences taking place in other countries too.
This could be an excellent way to get one step ahead of the news reports, and make sure you have a clear view of what’s really happening.
Radio Fidelity: For the love of radio.