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The Best Police Scanner

Last updated on September 11, 2019

We looked at the top 10 Police Scanners and dug through the reviews from 56 of the most popular review sites including Lifewire, Walkie Talkie Central, Car Care Total, Best Reviews Guide, Bestazy, CB Radio Review and more. The result is a ranking of the best Police Scanners.

Best Police Scanner

Why Trust The DWYM Score?

DWYM is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Police Scanners

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall
11.5

Uniden

500 Channel Scanner

Overall Take

First-Class ScannerWhether you want to listen to the radio, hear the chatter among the city's finest or check for weather alerts, this police scanner delivers.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus BestReviews, Jen Reviews, Bestazy, Best10.ai, Auto Expert Guides. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart.
Pros
" Basic and affordable w/an impressive 500 channels and clear sound when the reception is good. It's weather alert feature, clock, and FM radio capability add to it's value."
Cons
"Difficult to use. Few functions."
10.5

Uniden

Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner

Overall Take

Handy Touch KeypadThis police scanner easily tunes into the nearest transmitters and has a helpful advanced memory system.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus BestReviews, Best Reviews Guide, Top 5 Reviews, Jen Reviews, Wiki EZ Vid, Lifewire and 4 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and Scanner Master.
Pros
" Picks up frequencies clearly in analog and digital modes. Packed with features like Close Call RF Capture and location-based scanning."
Cons
"Keypad does not work occasionally making it very annoying."
10.0

Whistler

Analog Desktop Scanner

Overall Take

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus BestReviews, Best Reviews Guide, Jen Reviews, Comparaboo. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot and Walmart.
Pros
" A traditional analog model at an affordable price. Skywarn feature provides reliable storm warnings."
  The Best Value

BaoFeng

Dual Band Two Way Radio

Overall Take

Reasonably PricedWhile not the best model for beginners, this police scanner can be customized, making it an attractive choice for intermediate users.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus List Outdoor, Walkie Talkie World, Walkie Talkie Reviews, Sea Slug Team and 1 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Going for just $24, you get 128 channels and a frequency range of 136 to 174. You can customize the names of the channels and monitor 2 different frequencies."
Cons
"Manual programming could be a lot better."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
17

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the police scanners available to purchase.
10

Products Analyzed

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

View All Product Rankings

56

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Lifewire, Walkie Talkie Central, Car Care Total, Best Reviews Guide, Bestazy.

18,659

User Opinions Analyzed

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

Our experts reviewed the top 10 Police Scanners and also dug through the reviews from 56 of the most popular review sites including Lifewire, Walkie Talkie Central, Car Care Total, Best Reviews Guide, Bestazy, CB Radio Review and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Police Scanners.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Uniden 500 Channel Scanner

Our Expert Score
13.2
5 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.3
459 user reviews
Our Take

If you're looking for a police scanner that has all the bells and whistles, consider the 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.

What other experts liked
Basic and affordable w/an impressive 500 channels and clear sound when the reception is good. It's weather alert feature, clock, and FM radio capability add to it's value.
- BestReviews
The functionality for the P25 is highly improved as the scanner comes with a full USB interface
- Jen Reviews
What we liked about this Uniden product is the 500 channel memory, allowing you to save preferred frequencies and listen to them whenever you want.
- Bestazy
Weather alert. Offers an attractive design
- Auto Expert Guides
What other experts didn't like
Users have reported that it is confusing to program and doesn't pick up much activity in some areas without adding another antenna.
- BestReviews
Difficult to use. Few functions.
- Bestazy
It could use more functions.
- Auto Expert Guides

The Best Bang For Your Buck

BaoFeng Dual Band Two Way Radio

Expert Summarized Score
9.1
5 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.6
3,451 user reviews
Our Take

The BaoFeng Dual Band Two Way Radio is a handheld scanner that can pick up 128 channels. The low price on this model makes it popular with those who simply want to give scanning a try. You can also customize your channel names, giving them names that mean something to you. There can be a bit of a learning curve with this model, though, making it not as ideal for beginners.

What other experts liked
Combines wonderful functional and operational features with a reasonable price.
- Best Advisor
Going for just $24, you get 128 channels and a frequency range of 136 to 174. You can customize the names of the channels and monitor 2 different frequencies.
- List Outdoor
This handset is strong and sturdy and has been built keeping in mind rough usage. The device’s ergonomic design and respectable looks are one of the best features.
- Walkie Talkie World
The build quality is quite solid. This device has survived 3-4 drops so far, and it is still working fine.
- Walkie Talkie Reviews
It has three-way (FM, VHF & UHF) radio wave reception with complete frequency coverage.
- Sea Slug Team
What other experts didn't like
This device might make an impression of being too complex to use.
- Best Advisor
Can be difficult to program.
- List Outdoor
Manual programming could be a lot better.
- Walkie Talkie World
This has its downsides as well. For example, one option the software has that is not available through manual programming is to disable a stored channel for the scan function.
- Walkie Talkie Reviews
The only drawback we found in BaoFeng UV-5R is, it’s battery power. It can run in 1500 mAh batteries, which can last for 12-18 hours based on the power mood.
- Sea Slug Team

Overall Product Rankings

1. Uniden 500 Channel Scanner

Overall Score: 11.5
Reviews Included: 9

2. Uniden Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner

Overall Score: 10.5
Reviews Included: 14

3. Whistler Analog Desktop Scanner

Overall Score: 10.0
Reviews Included: 8

4. Uniden 300-Channel Base/Mobile Scanner

Overall Score: 9.6
Reviews Included: 10

5. Uniden HomePatrol Series Handheld Scanner

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 11

6. Whistler WS1010 Analog Handheld Scanner

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 9

7. Uniden HomePatrol Series Phase 2 Base/Mobile Scanner

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 9

8. BaoFeng Dual Band Two Way Radio

Overall Score: 8.4
Reviews Included: 6

9. Uniden BearTracker Scanner

Overall Score: 7.8
Reviews Included: 7

10. Whistler TRX-1 Handheld Digital Scanner Radio

Overall Score: 7.2
Reviews Included: 7

Our Findings

Uniden 500 Channel Scanner

What We Liked: If you’re looking for a police scanner that has all the bells and whistles, consider the 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.

BaoFeng Dual Band Two Way Radio

Best Value

BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio (Black) (Wireless Phone Accessory)


List Price: $24.99 USD
New From: $24.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: The BaoFeng Dual Band Two Way Radio is a handheld scanner that can pick up 128 channels. The low price on this model makes it popular with those who simply want to give scanning a try. You can also customize your channel names, giving them names that mean something to you. There can be a bit of a learning curve with this model, though, making it not as ideal for beginners.

Uniden Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner

What We Liked: You’ll get great reception with the Uniden Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner, which picks up both analog and digital frequencies. Close Call™ RF Capture helps search for the closest activity, no matter where you are. Its advanced memory system will remember your preferences to save time in the future.

Uniden HomePatrol Series Handheld Scanner

What We Liked: The Uniden HomePatrol Series Handheld Scanner not only locates the nearest activity, but it also uses a “do not disturb” feature that searches in the background while you listen. You can easily take this handheld model on the go. The built-in memory also means you can save your favorite channels and even temporarily skip channels you don’t want.

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.

DWYM 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. The Uniden Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner 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. You’ll also get 25,000 dynamically allocated channels. The BaoFeng Dual Band Two Way Radio picks up 128 channels, with a frequency range of 136 to 174, and offers three-way radio wave reception, which includes FM, VHF and UHF. The Uniden HomePatrol Series Handheld sometimes struggles to pick up analog frequencies.
  • If you’re hoping to capture what’s going on in your neighborhood, look for a scanner that builds in Close Call RF Capture. The Uniden Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner and the Uniden HomePatrol Series Handheld both include that feature. With the Uniden HomePatrol Series Handheld, you’ll have the advantage of a do-not-disturb setting that lets your scanner continue to look for nearby transmissions while still letting you listen to whatever is happening now.
  • For listening to nearby transmissions, it can also be useful to have a scanner with location-based scanning built in. The Uniden Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner and Uniden HomePatrol Series Handheld both 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. The Uniden Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner and Uniden 500 Channel Scanner are both tabletop models, while the Uniden HomePatrol Series Handheld and BaoFeng Dual Band Two Way Radio are handheld, similar to the design of the radio a police officer wears on his belt.
  • Once you’ve found a good channel, you likely want to come back to it again. The Uniden HomePatrol Series Handheld lets you create a favorites list to save all of the best channels. The BaoFeng Dual Band Two Way Radio lets 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. The Uniden Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner has an advanced dynamic memory system that remembers your preferences and handles more complex tasks. With the Uniden HomePatrol Series Handheld, you can not only save your favorite channels to memory, but you can temporarily skip certain channels.
  • If you’re looking for an affordable scanner, the BaoFeng Dual Band Two Way Radio can get you started. This is a great option for the novice user who wants to simply give scanning a try. You’ll pay more for the Uniden Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner and the Uniden HomePatrol Series Handheld.
  • Another bonus with Uniden’s scanners is the built-in weather alert feature. The Uniden Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner, Uniden HomePatrol Series Handheld and Uniden 500 Channel Scanner all have this included.
  • If you want to record what you hear, you’ll need a scanner with plenty of storage. Some models have a microSD slot that provides up to 4GB 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. Despite its low price, the BaoFeng Dual Band Two Way Radio may not be the best option, since it can be tough to use. The Uniden Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner needs some initial programming that can be complicated, and the scanner is a bit advanced for casual users. But the Uniden HomePatrol Series Handheld is built for ease of use, with its programming making many of the tasks you’ll need automatic.

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 Online-Tech-Tips.com and Switching to Mac, among many others. When she isn't writing about technology, she's often checking out the latest news on the upcoming iPhone release.