Posted on May 25, 2012 in Health & safety, Local resources, Tech & internet
Is there somewhere I can find out how I can listen to my local fire and/or police departments scanners?
So you want to find out where those fire engines are headed? Curious what all those police sirens were for? Want to know when it’s safe to come out of hiding? Okay, the lawyers made me redact that last one. Sorry. Illegal activities excepted, we can help.
The laws as to whether or not you can even possess a police scanner — and where you can use the aforementioned scanner — depends on your city/county/state, the specific equipment you’re using, and whether or not you have been convicted of a felony. Be sure to first check the regulations in your area.
Some laws might be like this one from Florida: “A person, firm, or corporation may not install or transport in any motor vehicle or business establishment… any frequency modulation radio receiving equipment so adjusted or tuned as to receive messages or signals on frequencies assigned by the Federal Communications Commission to police or law enforcement officers or fire rescue personnel of any city or county of the state or to the state or any of its agencies.” (Most states do, however, have a clause stating that if you are an FCC-licensed amateur radio operator, those statutes don’t apply.)
If you’re looking to see what this stuff even sounds like, heading over to RadioReference.com is a great start. The site has streaming scanner audio from all over the world. For the US, select your state, then county, then scroll through till you see what you’re looking for. It’s free, it’s easy, and it plays right in your browser with no additional software required. You can also listen in Winamp, iTunes, Windows Media Player and RealPlayer. (Another similar site: ScannerBuddy.com.)
Personally, I’m a big fan of these feeds, as it means that I can listen to the emergency medical service dispatch from the county in New York where I used to be an EMT. It helps when I’m feeling all nostalgic for the good old days of 3am calls out to the old folks’ home.
Can’t find what you’re looking for there? Want more control over what you listen to? Consider picking up your own scanner. Yes, that old one your dad bought back in the ’80s might work… for some things. It might not. That’s because many locations have moved public service communications to digital trunked systems to reduce interference, intentional jamming, and the ability for small-time crooks to buy a $30 scanner to listen to them.
Check out Scanner Master and their sister site PoliceScanners.net for an interactive buying guide to help you find the best one based on your area and what you want to hear.
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