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Stymie
Hey guys and gals, I am in the market for a scanner to listen in on the local PD and FD, my son is on the county police department and I would like to hear him on the scanner. Anyway, I was looking at some hand held units on Amazon and reading the reviews and so it seems that some of these handheld units are old technology and won't pick up the newer digital radios that they are now using, anyone have any experience with this stuff that could recommend one that won't break the bank with the purchase?
John

Sears Collectors #3 Canadian Blues #004 MilSpecOps #005 Gold Bond #5
Coleman Blues #65 Coleman 275 Appreciation Syndicate #0037 ICCC #1307
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simplex1040
Look up the department on broadcastify.com They stream scanners from all over. 
Newer systems are trunking etc. 
ICCC # 1314
Charlie
The Goat League ( Soon to be a major motion picture)

The Western Kentucky Chapter ICCC ( One member strong, getting together for light ups is easy. I just step outside)
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cb_43
I believe this scanner may be your best option for the price.  It handles the digital P25 Phase 1 & 2 modulations that most emergency services are using if they've completely converted to digital, and also still receives analog signals.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IID3OAY/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_eam2Cb9X6D18E

Check with your son first and see if they encrypt their radio communications.  If that's the case, you're just not going to be able to hear anything besides digital garbage when they key up the mic.  My local sherriff's office has gone to encrypted digital, and I can only hear the county fire and EMS as they're still using analog.
-Cody
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Aspbear
Also check to see if they are using a trunking system,  if so it will take multiple frequencies to cover the different antennas and the computer system may switch antennas during one transmission.
G.B. Harp
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DougA
Go to radioreference.com and drill down to your county and it will tell you exactly what each entity uses for their transmissions.  It is kind of rare to find any place that doesn't have some kind of trunking and/or digital these days, but there are still places that are still all analog.  Some of the digital trunking radios come pre-programmed for many areas or sometimes the dealer (depending on where you buy it) can do it for you.  Radioreference also has programming files for some areas and radios.
DougA  ... fettler and keeper of a family collection of nickel: a 249, a pair of 237s, and a 1938 228B, along with a late 1979 red 200a.  Then two more turned up, a 1941 243A and a 1944 242C, and now there's a b-day 200A lantern, too!.
Coleman Blues Member #92.
BernzOmatic Appreciation Club #009.
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Chucker
Aspbear wrote:
]Also check to see if they are using a trunking system,  if so it will take multiple frequencies to cover the different antennas and the computer system may switch antennas during one transmission.


Really? Switching antennas or freaks during tx is right out the military handbooks. Interesting. 
Chuck
"Be angry and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still...put your trust in the LORD." Ps. 4/4-5
Eye-SEE-C-C Member #1333 -- MilSpecOps #003
"Michigan - from the Ojibwa word “meicigama,” meaning “great water.”
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Aspbear
Yeah when we switched to it, pretty well ended getting out at the house for a few. Scanners could not keep up with the changes but it worked great no more losing signal when the storms came.
G.B. Harp
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Aspbear
I know just the Troop I was in used 36 different frequencies at 18 different tower sites and I think they have switched to satellite now.
G.B. Harp
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djvanyel
cb_43 wrote:

Check with your son first and see if they encrypt their radio communications.  If that's the case, you're just not going to be able to hear anything besides digital garbage when they key up the mic.  My local sherriff's office has gone to encrypted digital, and I can only hear the county fire and EMS as they're still using analog.


+1 to this. Many LE departments encrypt nowadays since scanners are prevalent and they want to protect against people listening in. Luckily, since your son is an LEO, you can likely bypass another hurdle: knowing the definitions of their communication codes. One big thing: be sure to ensure that your chosen scanner/monitoring public safety frequencies isn't prohibited in your jurisdiction. I kinda doubt there are many places like that still, but best to be sure.

DougA wrote:
Go to radioreference.com and drill down to your county and it will tell you exactly what each entity uses for their transmissions...


Also +1 to this but with the caveat that they can sometimes be wrong or terribly out of date. I know that the information they have listed for my local department is obsolete/incorrect (I believe it dates back to before the narrow-band conversion happened and I have confirmed the discrepancies with help from the FCC database and a fellow Ham in town). The information there is crowd-sourced and again, for security reasons, many jurisdictions don't make their information freely available to the general public.

Depending on how advanced or simple you want to get, Uniden makes a Home Patrol (now the HomePatrol 2) scanner which is basically programmed automatically and I believe the database is/was largely compiled from RadioReference.com data. It's all menu-driven and isn't good if you want to get advanced (like listening to EDACS iCalls and such), but for a simple "plug-and-play" solution, that may be an option for you as well.
- Ben


Let's see how this whole moderation thing works out...
The Coleman Blues #413
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Flyboyfwa
I have been out of the game for awhile now but most of what people have replied is on the money. Especially after 911, a lot of departments upgraded to trunked systems that switch freqs constantly. The only way to hear the whole conversation is to have a radio setup the same as the department. i.e. be on the inside. Addtionally, some channels are encrypted, like SWAT,  so you won't hear it even if you can keep up with the channel  switching. After leaving public service I had friends still working and used to enjoy listening to the scanner while at home. It was fun knowing the lingo and personalities to understand the inside jokes that the public wouldn't catch. It seems like the best bet is the streaming option nowadays.

Be aware that in some areas you are required to have a permit from the agency you are listening to or you can be breaking the law. Permits were generally only given on a specific need only basis. No general public. Having a police scanner In your vehicle may get you in a lot of trouble. 
Andy
Mil-Spec Ops #199
ICCC #1741
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simplex1040
In KY you cannot have a scanner in your car. 
ICCC # 1314
Charlie
The Goat League ( Soon to be a major motion picture)

The Western Kentucky Chapter ICCC ( One member strong, getting together for light ups is easy. I just step outside)
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kansaswoody
I dunno how large of an agency he works for, but like others have said, my department and all the surrounding departments have encryption on our radio channels. All the channels, not just a few. A scanner won’t pick any of it up. Might be worth asking him before you spend the cash.
Drew
Turd Appreciation Member #1286
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Chucker
kansaswoody wrote:
I dunno how large of an agency he works for, but like others have said, my department and all the surrounding departments have encryption on our radio channels. All the channels, not just a few. A scanner won’t pick any of it up. Might be worth asking him before you spend the cash.


Roger that. With price of a Home Patrol 2 around $450 USD, it ain't cheap in my book. 
Chuck
"Be angry and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still...put your trust in the LORD." Ps. 4/4-5
Eye-SEE-C-C Member #1333 -- MilSpecOps #003
"Michigan - from the Ojibwa word “meicigama,” meaning “great water.”
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Stymie
Thanks for the feedback (no pun intended!), I will definitely check with him about the encryption and what not. 
John

Sears Collectors #3 Canadian Blues #004 MilSpecOps #005 Gold Bond #5
Coleman Blues #65 Coleman 275 Appreciation Syndicate #0037 ICCC #1307
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Mike
It would guarantee many sleepless nights if I was listening in the hopes that my son stays safe for his tour.

Mike.
My best gal is a Coleman outing pal!
2 1/2 minutes to Midnight...
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Aspbear
It can work to be a bad thing.  My son is a Trooper as I was, one night my wife are sitting there watching TV with the scanner on when we hear H 34 FtSmith shots fired I am in foot pursuit (my son) then the radio went silent except for dispatch sending units his way. He is over 100 miles from me but finally he can back on and was very out of breath but said suspect in custody.

I told my wife no more scanner. Seemed like an eternity till we heard his voice again.
G.B. Harp
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Stymie
Aspbear wrote:
It can work to be a bad thing.  My son is a Trooper as I was, one night my wife are sitting there watching TV with the scanner on when we hear H 34 FtSmith shots fired I am in foot pursuit (my son) then the radio went silent except for dispatch sending units his way. He is over 100 miles from me but finally he can back on and was very out of breath but said suspect in custody.

I told my wife no more scanner. Seemed like an eternity till we heard his voice again.

Mike wrote:
It would guarantee many sleepless nights if I was listening in the hopes that my son stays safe for his tour.

Mike.


I have struggled with this as well, I want to be able to stay up to date with him but also not sure if I want to hear all the stuff that he gets into. I will have and have had sleepless nights already without the scanner. He is very much a rookie, he will be going out in his own, in his own cruiser in the next week or so.
John

Sears Collectors #3 Canadian Blues #004 MilSpecOps #005 Gold Bond #5
Coleman Blues #65 Coleman 275 Appreciation Syndicate #0037 ICCC #1307
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DougA
I don't know if I could listen knowing any parties involved.  I like to listen to the local action just to know what is going on and am usually within earshot of a scanner pretty much 24/7, but even not knowing anyone some of the calls are hard to listen to.
DougA  ... fettler and keeper of a family collection of nickel: a 249, a pair of 237s, and a 1938 228B, along with a late 1979 red 200a.  Then two more turned up, a 1941 243A and a 1944 242C, and now there's a b-day 200A lantern, too!.
Coleman Blues Member #92.
BernzOmatic Appreciation Club #009.
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Aspbear
I am sure that he is well trained and in a short time he will develop a sense when something is not right. Over 90 percent of officers spend their whole career without firing a shot or have someone shoot at them.

You have raised a son that has chosen a very needed career path, be proud of that and say a prayer for his safety. The Lord Loves The Blue Line.
G.B. Harp
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kansaswoody
Stymie wrote:


I have struggled with this as well, I want to be able to stay up to date with him but also not sure if I want to hear all the stuff that he gets into. I will have and have had sleepless nights already without the scanner. He is very much a rookie, he will be going out in his own, in his own cruiser in the next week or so.


Good for him! He is at the start of a great show. You can sleep well knowing that his training was probably one of the most thorough programs he will ever go through. He will be prepared for just about anything thrown at him. I wish I could relive the feeling of driving a cruiser solo for the first time. Talk about a rush! 
Drew
Turd Appreciation Member #1286
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dbosch
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Roger that. With price of a Home Patrol 2 around $450 USD, it ain't cheap in my book.


i just did that and have been learning that catching the digital signals isn't all that.  Lots of distortion as the unit works to decode the transmissions.
Dan B.  ICCC #100
The Texas Dust Bowl

Faith is not about everything turning out okay; faith is about being okay no matter how things turn out.
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DougA
i just did that and have been learning that catching the digital signals isn't all that.  Lots of distortion as the unit works to decode the transmissions.


There is a pretty good learning curve getting into the digital modes and trunking especially if all you've ever done is FM analog in the past, and yes, you need either a good antenna or a really good signal for the radio to decode the digital signals well.  Fortunately in my area not too much is digital, really only one police agency at the moment.
DougA  ... fettler and keeper of a family collection of nickel: a 249, a pair of 237s, and a 1938 228B, along with a late 1979 red 200a.  Then two more turned up, a 1941 243A and a 1944 242C, and now there's a b-day 200A lantern, too!.
Coleman Blues Member #92.
BernzOmatic Appreciation Club #009.
Quote
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