There’s a lot of debate over which scanner is best, but there’s a lot that goes into picking a scanner and it really comes down to personal preference in my opinion.

First decide if you want a handheld or base type of scanner. Honestly, I don’t know much about the base scanners since I’ve always had portable.

Before I give my opinion on a good handheld scanner there is another option; an app on your mobile device. Go to your device app store and search ‘police scanner’ and you’ll find some free and some paid apps. The ones I’ve tried have had reasonably good service with but the one thing to keep in mind is the feed will have a delay, so it’s not exactly realtime. Close, but not precise. Another option is Broadcastify, select your state and county and you’ll have a list of feeds available. Also, these will be slightly delayed. Both these options limit what you can hear since they provide just a handful of frequencies to chose from.

But let’s talk scanners, I own 2. My starter was the Radio Shack Pro-96 and I love it. It’s digital trunking, easy to program and control, easy to program on the fly and just an all around great scanner. Some people complain about volume/quality issues, but that was never my experience. This scanner has been discontinued, it would be a good investment if you could find a working used one.

What I currently use as my main scanner is the Uniden BCD436HP. I like it, I don’t love it. It is certainly packed with cool features, for instance, you can input your zip code and it will automatically have all the frequencies in your area. This was fun, but I found there were so many things I didn’t want to monitor that it became cumbersome and programming directly on the scanner is near impossible. Know that when this scanner comes the first thing you will want to do is upgrade the antennae. Really, no joke.

It took me about several days to figure out the lists (versus banks on older traditional scanners) and how to manage them and set them up, but once that was done I haven’t had to go back to change anything. Setting up the ICIS (Interagency Communications Interoperability System) channels is always tricky, but once you’ve got it done correctly it monitors like a charm. I would recommend this scanner, you’ll spend a pretty penny but all in all it is worth it.

The two powerhouses in the scanner market are Uniden and Whistler. Both make great scanners. Rather than reinvent the wheel and try to tell you what to buy, check out this comprehensive review. My advice, get digital, not analog and if you can afford a scanner with Phase 2 capability, go for it.

Happy Scanning.