There was a time when only enthusiasts with a citizen’s band (CB) radios could tuned in to listen to special radio frequencies of emergency services such as police, firefighters, paramedics and medical technicians. Investing in a police scanner was very expensive, not to mention illegal in some places.
However, an ordinary citizen listening in to police communicate over their special wireless frequencies is perfectly legal in most states in the USA, and this applies the same to almost every country all over the world. As long as you don’t interfere with the transmissions, you are safe to tune in.
Most public services and first responder emergency services operate on low frequency radio waves to communicate with one another, and these can be intercepted without much difficulty with standard radio scanners by tuning into the right frequency. As of today, the scanners can not only listen in on police or fire personnel’s communications, but they can also receive weather and local airport traffic communications.
As cellular technology has progressed significantly, and with the advent of Internet, it has indeed become much easier to intercept cellular communications. Nevertheless, it is a federal crime to spy in on private cellular phone calls; it is a different matter altogether if the government is involved in the spying though. Most law enforcement agencies avoid radio communication and use cellular phones for this reason alone.
You might be wondering, “Why would I be fascinated to tune in to a live police radio streams?” The answer is multi-fold. You might be curious to know what is going on in your surrounding area, or you might want to keep yourself updated about weather forecasts or current events, or perhaps you just want to make sure that your loved ones who work in law enforcement services are fine. If you are a journalist, you might be tuning in to keep abreast of breaking news. Whatever be may the case, there are a lot of reasons to tune into radio frequencies.
A computer and an internet connection is all that is required to listen in on live police radio. However, where to listen to live police radio scanner online for free? Here are a few online services and mobile phone apps that let you tune in online for free:
Online Police Radio Services
1. Broadcastify (broadcastify.com): It is the world’s largest hub of public safety, rail, aircraft and marine radio live audio streams. This online service lets you listen in to over 3000 live audio streams, broadcast your scanner for other audience and connect your agency or department to the public. The website adheres to modern standards and works on any computer, smartphone or tablet. There are also apps available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry mobile platforms. Premium subscribers also get access to other advanced features.
2. The DXZone (dxzone.com): It is directory completely dedicated to Ham Radio (Amateur Radio), shortwave radio listening, CB Radio, Broadcast listening, Internet Radio and other related topics. If you are only interested in listening to public broadcasts, then look under Internet Radio.
3. Radio Reference (radioreference.com): It is the world’s biggest data communications provider, and features an extensive frequency database, FCC license data and trunked radio information. User contributed frequencies and discussions are also a part of the site. The service is free to use, but advanced features are available only to premium subscribers.
4. Police Scanner Online (policescanneronline.net): It is a website that links you to information about police scanners sorted by different cities. It has a free trial period, but requires download of a proprietary media server protocol called Wowza. It is a good alternative to the online services listed above.
Police Scanner Mobile Apps
1. Police Scanner Free: This is a free Android app and lists police frequencies from US and many other countries. The interface is simple enough with a white background, and the frequencies are listed menu. It’s fast and efficient. It can be downloaded from the Google Play store.
2. Police Scanner Radio: An app for Apple devices that can be downloaded from the iTunes store. It will let you skim through not only US scanners, but also those in Asia and Europe. The user interface is very simple and the app is very easy to use. However, it only lists police frequencies.
3. 5-0 Police Scanner: Another app for Apple devices. The app description states that it is the largest collection of live firefighters, police, aircraft, marine, railroad, ham and other emergency radios. There are two versions available: Lite and Pro. Lite version is free and serves the need in many cased. Download it from the iTunes store.
4. MyScanner – Police Scanner Radio: Another Android app that can be downloaded for free. It allows you to browse through police scanners, rail and even marine streams.
5. TuneIn Radio: This is originally a radio station app with over 70,000 stations to browse through, but some of those frequencies belong to police scanners from around the world.
If listening to police transmissions and other information relayed over the radio waves is your interest, then there are plenty of cost-effective ways to do so without investing in a costly scanner. Everything you want is just a button away on the Internet and your mobile devices.