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The Best Police Scanner

Last updated on December 31, 2019

We looked at the top 13 Police Scanners and dug through the reviews from 57 of the most popular review sites including Oh So Savvy Mom, Lifewire, Walkie Talkie Central, Car Care Total, Best Reviews Guide, Bestazy and more. The result is a ranking of the best Police Scanners.

Best Police Scanner

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Our Picks For The Top Police Scanners

Show Contents
Our Take
  Best Overall

Uniden 300-Channel Base/Mobile Scanner

Uniden

300-Channel Base/Mobile Scanner

Overall Take

Packed With FeaturesThe Uniden 300-Channel Base/Mobile Scanner covers all of your police scanner needs without complicated controls.

  Runner Up

Whistler WS1065 Desktop Digital Scanner

Whistler

WS1065 Desktop Digital Scanner

Overall Take

Storm SeekerThe Whistler WS1065 Desktop Digital Scanner takes care of alerts on the ground and in the skies.

  Strong Contender

Uniden 500 Channel Scanner

Uniden

500 Channel Scanner

Overall Take

A Comprehensive ChoiceWhether you want to listen to the radio, hear local chatter or check for weather alerts, the Uniden 500 Channel Scanner delivers.

  Best for Travel

Whistler WS1010 Analog Handheld Scanner

Whistler

WS1010 Analog Handheld Scanner

Overall Take

Portable ConvenienceThe Whistler WS1010 Analog Handheld Scanner is a feature-rich scanner for on-the-go alerts.

  Best for Beginners

BAOFENG BF-F8HP Dual Band Scanner

BAOFENG

BF-F8HP Dual Band Scanner

Overall Take

Great Customer ServiceThe BAOFENG BF-F8HP Dual Band Scanner has unparalleled customer support and impressive battery life.

Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, Simplemost analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
20

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the police scanners available to purchase.
13

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

57

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources.

23,171

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Scanner Master, Best Buy, Home Depot.

The Best Overall

Uniden 300-Channel Base/Mobile Scanner

Our Expert Score
9.5
Our Take

This Uniden 300-Channel Base/Mobile Scanner has dozens of accessible features for both novice and expert users. The Favorites feature lets you save up to 300 frequencies, and you can pick up analog receptions, too. Close Call RF Capture Technology makes staying on top of local alerts a snap.


The Best Bang For Your Buck

BAOFENG BF-F8HP Dual Band Scanner

Our Expert Score
9.5
Our Take

Working with your first police scanner can be tricky. This BAOFENG BF-F8HP Dual Band Scanner's in-depth manual and concierge customer support will turn newbies into scanning pros in no time. It also has a whopping 18-hour battery life.

Our Police Scanner Findings

Uniden 300-Channel Base/Mobile Scanner

What We Liked: This Uniden 300-Channel Base/Mobile Scanner has dozens of accessible features for both novice and expert users. The Favorites feature lets you save up to 300 frequencies, and you can pick up analog receptions, too. Close Call RF Capture Technology makes staying on top of local alerts a snap.

Whistler WS1065 Desktop Digital Scanner

What We Liked: Police scanners can go above and beyond real-time alerts. This Whistler WS1065 Desktop Digital Scanner lets you hear storm reports before they’re broadcast on TV or radio. The pre-programmed, nationwide database will get you scanning in seconds.

Uniden 500 Channel Scanner

What We Liked: If you’re looking for a police scanner that has all the bells and whistles, consider this Uniden 500 Channel Scanner. Not only does this scanner feature an astounding 500 channels, but it also dazzles with weather alerts and a built-in FM radio. You’ll even have the ability to save your favorite frequencies with this model for quick tuning during future uses.

Whistler WS1010 Analog Handheld Scanner

What We Liked: This travel-friendly Whistler WS1010 Analog Handheld Scanner keeps you up to date on the road. The Priority Channel function lets you check one channel every two seconds as you scan, and Scan Delay pauses scanning for two seconds to allow for replies. This scanner is easy to program and tune.

BAOFENG BF-F8HP Dual Band Scanner

What We Liked: Working with your first police scanner can be tricky. This BAOFENG BF-F8HP Dual Band Scanner’s in-depth manual and concierge customer support will turn newbies into scanning pros in no time. It also has a whopping 18-hour battery life.

Our Police Scanner Buying Guide

If you’ve ever watched out your window as emergency vehicles sped to a home down the street, you know the value of having a police scanner. These devices let you listen in on local police transmissions, helping you stay aware of what’s going on nearby. This can help you monitor your area for crime so that you can keep your own home safe.

Choosing a police scanner means finding a device that can help you get the best reception possible. With the right scanner, you’ll get the widest range of options when you’re listening. The wrong scanner will have you frustrated as you struggle to find a transmission. Look for a scanner that offers a broad frequency range and a large number of channels. Some scanners also offer both analog and digital frequencies, which can be a plus.

Some of the best police scanners use something called Close Call RF Capture technology, which helps you tune in to nearby transmissions. Since many consumers investing in police scanners are interested primarily in nearby happenings, this feature comes in handy. Location scanning is another feature that can help you access the transmissions in your immediate area. When a scanner has location scanning built in, it searches for transmissions nearby rather than forcing you to manually input them. This is especially valuable if you plan to use your scanner in more than one place.

Before you shop, though, you should make a decision about the build you want. Some scanners are designed to be used on a table or desk, while many others are handheld. If you want the freedom to move around your house or even take your scanner on the go, a handheld scanner may be a better option for you.

Simplemost Fun Fact

As police scanners have grown in popularity, concerns have emerged that criminals might use them to get away with crimes. This is largely unfounded, especially since most scanner users are simply hobbyists. In other words, criminals aren’t likely to buy a police scanner simply for the purpose of getting away with a crime.

Even if they did, though, the information they’d gain wouldn’t be very helpful since communication is often incomplete. Not only do authorities use codewords only those involved in the incident would understand, emergency services often communicate using multiple methods, so you wouldn’t get the full picture of an incident anyway.

That said, it’s important that those using scanners avoid sharing details on social media, especially if the information gives away the addresses of homes that are currently being searched.

The Police Scanner Tips and Advice

  • The most important feature in a police scanner is its reception. Some scanners can pick up frequencies in both analog and digital modes, which means you’ll be able to pull up transmissions from emergency services and the military. Others can pick up hundreds of channels in a broad range of frequencies.
  • If you’re hoping to capture what’s going on in your neighborhood, scanners with Close Call RF Capture Technology can be useful. It tunes into signals from nearby transmitters, alerting you if you get a hit nearby. Do-not-disturb settings will let scanners with Close Call continue to look for nearby transmissions while still letting you listen to whatever is happening now.
  • Built-in location-based scanning is useful for detecting nearby signals. Some scanners automatically search frequencies in the surrounding area to keep you from having to find your location manually.
  • The biggest difference between scanners is their general build. Some are tabletop models, while others are handheld (similar to the ones that police officers wear on their belts).
  • Once you’ve found a good channel, you likely want to come back to it again. A scanner with a favorites list helps save all of the best channels. Many scanners with this feature let you customize your channel names so that you can create nicknames to help you remember the ones you’ve used before.
  • Scanners have come a long way in the smartphone era. Some models have a feature that lets you sync up with a smartphone app. That means you can access your scanner using your smartphone even when you’re away from home.
  • With other scanners, advanced functionality is built into the device itself. Certain scanners have advanced dynamic memory systems that remember your preferences and handle more complex tasks. You may also be able to skip certain channels that aren’t helping you out.
  • Handheld scanners are more affordable than desktop scanners, so they’re great for beginners.
  • Look for scanners with weather-alert features if you’re a budding meteorologist.
  • If you want to record what you hear, you’ll need a scanner with plenty of storage. Some models have a microSD slot that provide several GB of storage, which is more space than you’ll probably ever need.
  • If you’re new to scanning, you’ll want to look for a scanner that’s easy to use. Look for a scanner that lets you create automated tasks for quicker scanning.

About The Author

Avatar
Stephanie Faris 

Stephanie Faris is a former information technology professional who spent most of her career working with computers and printers. Now a novelist and professional writer, her writings on electronics have been published on top tech sites. When she isn't writing about technology, she's often checking out the latest news on the upcoming iPhone release.