Listening to police scanners has a long history in this country. If you’re a journalist, a concerned citizen or just interested in hearing the chatter, you can tune in to emergency frequencies to stay on top of local events as they happen.
In the past, you needed expensive hardware and electronic equipment to listen to emergency bands. Now, all you need is a smartphone and one of these police scanner apps.
Before you use any of these apps, I encourage you to know your local laws regarding their use. While police scanners are legal in most states, some restrict their use under certain conditions.
If you’re in doubt about the legality of using these police scanner apps, consult with a professional lawyer.
5-0 Radio Police Scanner (Free; iOS) – 5-0 Radio Police Scanner is one of the most popular downloads in the App Store. It’s been in the top 100 most downloaded apps for two years and has more than 11 million users.
That’s because it’s loaded with emergency and ham radio feeds from around the world. You can browse by country, state or city, and save or share your favorites. This app includes a handy reference guide for police, EMS, fire and military codes.
Scanner Radio Pro ($3; Android) – You could scan the channels waiting for news of a big event, but that’s a bit like fishing in murky waters. Wouldn’t you like to hear a real-time alert when an emergency is happening?