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2010 Edition

By Ruben Flores
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Visit my sites below for the latest edition & more p olice scanner information: –
© Copyright 2003-2010 – Ruben Flores – All Rights Reserved

Table of Contents
Preface Chapter 1: Introduction to Police Scanners
1.1. 1.2. 1.3. 1.4. 1.5. What Is Radio Scanning What Are Police Scanners Who Uses Police Scanners Why You Should Own A Police Scanner Police Scanners & The Law

Chapter 2: How Police Scanners Work
2.1. 2.2. 2.3. 2.4. 2.5. 2.6. Modes of Operation Banks & Channels Channel Entry Standard Functions Advanced Features Range & Reception Issues

Chapter 3: Radio Bands & Frequencies
3.1. 3.2. 3.3. 3.4. 3.5. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Radio Frequencies Frequency Allocations Frequency Bands Conventional, Trunked, & Digital Radio Systems

Chapter 4: Buying The Right Scanner
4.1. 4.2. 4.3. 4.4. 4.5. 4.6. 4.7. Questions For You to Answer Radio Band Coverage Handheld, Base/Mobile, or PC-based Scanner Conventional, Trunk, or Digital Scanner Channel Capacity Price Ranges Where to Buy Police Scanners

Chapter 5: Police Scanner Accessories
5.1. 5.2. 5.3. 5.4. 5.5. 5.6. 5.7. 5.8. 5.9. Antennas Extension Speakers Radio Earphones Batteries Battery Chargers AC Adapters DC Adapters Protective Cases Surge Protectors

Chapter 6: Where to Find Frequency for Your Area
6.1. 6.2. 6.3. 6.4. 6.5. 6.6. 6.7. Websites Dedicated to Scanning Online Frequency Lists & Databases Print & CD-ROM Directories & Databases Scanner Usenet Newsgroups Email/Web-based Discussion Boards & Groups Scanner Webrings Frequency Crystal Dealers

Chapter 7: Frequency to Get You Started
Nationwide Public Safety Frequencies 7.1. NOAA (National Weather Service) 7.2. HEAR (Hospital/Emergency, Ambulance Radio) 7.3 Law Enforcement & Fire Mutual Aid Frequencies Nationwide Business Frequencies 7.4. Local Control, DOT/STAR, & Itinerant Radio 7.5. Video Production Radio Service Nationwide Radio Service Frequencies 7.6. Family Radio Service (FRS) 7.7. General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) 7.8. Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) 7.9. Citizen Band (CB Radio) 7.10. Television Audio

Chapter 8: Setting Up & Monitoring Tips & Tricks
8.1. 8.2. 8.3. 8.4. 8.5. Setting Up A Monitoring Area Keys to Effective Monitoring The Right Way to Monitor Your Scanner Recommended Monitoring Accessories Care & Maintenance for Your Scanner

Chapter 9: Monitoring Police & Fire Radio
9.1. 9.2. 9.3. 9.4. 9.5. 9.6. Monitoring Police Radio Communications Monitoring Fire Radio Communications Police & Fire Radio Codes & Signals Police & Fire Radio Terms, Slang, & Jargon What You Can Expect to Hear Your Scanner & Emergency Preparedness

About the Author

The author hereby grants you, the reader, permission to share, distribute and transmit this guide for non-commercial use provided that you DO NOT modify, alter, change, transform, copy, reproduce, or build upon this work. The text, compilation, organization, and display of content in this guide are the exclusive intellectual property of the author and are protected by United States copyright laws and international treaty provisions. The author reserves all rights.

This guide is dedicated to all law enforcement and fire-rescue personnel across America. Without their courage and bravery, chaos would surely reign. I began my scanning hobby in the summer of 1982 at the age of 15. I was at a park with some friends when an acquaintance of one of my friend’s showed up with a handheld crystal controlled scanner. This was my first time ever seeing a scanner and it immediately grabbed my attention, especially when he told me that you could listen to police and fire calls. He told me he had bought it at a yard sale. Since I did not know where to get one, I simply put the thought of owning one aside. Months later while at my best friend’s house, I learned her brother had recently purchased one. Soon after, we found ourselves spending nights on end just listening to all the action going on in our neighborhood. From then on my interest in scanning grew. In early 1983, while on vacation, my mom bought me my first scanner at a yard sale; an old crystal controlled base scanner. In late 1983, I found out that Radio Shack stocked and sold scanners. I begged my dad for the cash and was able to finally buy a programmable scanner. Twenty-one years later, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that it would all culminate in this guide. My lucky unlucky break came in July of 2001, when the “” company I was employed by abruptly closed and I was out of a job. It was then that I decided to follow my long -time wish to write a scanning guide so that others could learn about and enjoy the awesome and often exciting world of radio scanning. Ruben Flores Author of “Inside the World of Police Scanners” Webmaster @ Bloghost @ Contact Information: Ruben Flores - admin@police

If you like the information provided, click here to buy me a beer for my time and effort that went into writing this eBook.
(Suggested: $3 for a beer or $7.5 for a pitcher – much appreciated!)

How to Use This Guide
• Clicking on a link within the guide will automatically launch a separate browser window for each link clicked. When you are done viewing a third party link, simply close the open browser window. Use the drag tool to scroll up and down through pages. Use the zoom tool to zoom in and out to the desired size. Use the hide/show navigation pane to toggle the navigation pane on or off. Use the top navigation arrows to move forward and back on page at a time or to go to the beginning or end of the guide. • Use the bottom navigation bar to jump to a specific page or adjust the viewing size.

• • • •

On the left navigation page, click the “bookmarks” tab to view all bookmarks within the guide. Bookmarks allow you to jump to specific sections within the guide. Click the “thumbnail” tab view thumbnail images of all pages in the guide. Thumbnails allow you to jump to specific pages within the guide.


Although care has been taken in preparing the information contained in this guide, the author does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy thereof as information within this guide is subject to change without prior notice. In additional, this guide provides hyperlinks to external sites that contain third party content. Links and access to external sites are provided as a solely as a courtesy and convenience to you. The author is not affiliated with any of the externally linked sites unless otherwise specifically mentioned. The author does not control or guarantee content found at external sites and as such, is not responsible for such content, associated links, resources, or services associated with a third party content or site.

Chapter 1: Introduction to Police Scanners
The information in this chapter is divided into the following topics: 1.1. What Is Radio Scanning 1.2. What Are Police Scanners 1.3. Who Uses Police Scanners 1.4. Why Should You Own A Police Scanner 1.5. Police Scanners & the Law

1.1. What Is Radio Scanning
Radio scanning is the process of effectively tuning into and monitoring any wireless radio communication that interest you, provided that your scanner is capable of picking up those radio signals for your particular interest. Sound boring? Well, not if you consider all of the possible uses there are that involve the use of two-way radios! The airwaves are jammed with wireless communications all around us everyone from your local police and fire departments to fast food restaurants to amusement parks use two-way radio every day to carry out their day-to-day operations. Here are some of the things that you can listen in on that are all made possible with a radio scanner: ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Police/Sheriff Fire-Rescue Highway Patrol Ambulance Search & Rescue Air Traffic Control Amusement Parks Mall/Department Stores Casino & Resorts Beach Patrol/Lifeguards State & County Fairs Special Events Convention Centers Sporting Events & Stadiums Air Shows News Media Government Agencies Space Shuttle Communications National Weather Service NASCAR & NHRA Pit Crews Public Utility Crews Maritime Operations And much more!

1.2. What Are Police Scanners
A police scanner is the nickname given to a radio scanner. A radio scanner is a special receiver that is capable of receiving wireless radio signal transmissions. These wireless signals include twoway radio transmissions used everyday in public safety and business operations. A scanner picks up these radio signals, similar to an AM/FM radio. While an AM/FM radio is programmed to pick up only AM/FM band radio signals, a scanner can pick-up multiple radio signals and multiple radio bands simultaneously making it possible to easily keep track of many channels at once. The term “police scanner” comes from the fact that the majority of scanner users enjoy listening to police radio broadcast.
Pictured above is the Radio Shack Pro-94 handheld scanner (L) and the Uniden Bearcat 9000XLT (R).

1.3. Who Uses Police Scanners?
While it’s true that criminals do use scanners, they represent only a miniscule portion of actual users. The majority of users include: • • • • • • • • Law-abiding citizens On/off-duty or volunteer police officers and firefighters Family members of police officers and firefighters Neighborhood watch groups Regional emergency disaster groups Public safety organizations Amateur/ham operators and news media organizations

1.4 Why You Should Own A Police Scanner
Why should you own a police scanner? The answer is simple: personal safety, community awareness, and excitement.

The Excitement of Police & Fire Radio
Like the majority of scanner users, I find police and fire radio communications the primary reason why I listen. Everyday in every neighborhood across America, police and fire personnel respond to emergency calls for assistance that range anywhere from a minor disturbance to a major catastrophe. Over the years I have found little that compares to the addicting excitement of this reality as it plays out over the air in life and death situations. I’m sure at some time or another you’ve been somewhere and all of a sudden you see a police car or fire engine go speeding by with its lights and siren on, or you’ve come across streets blocked off by police and you’ve wondered what the heck was going on. With a scanner you’ll know exactly what’s going on and where, possibly even helping you to avoid dangerous

situations. You’ll know what’s going on around you at all times, even when you travel, provided mobile use is permitted. (See Section 1.4 for more on mobile use)

Dangerous Police Situations
Knowledge Is Key! If there’s an armed suspect on the loose in my neighborhood, I want to know about it. If police are in high-speed pursuit of a fleeing suspect in my neighborhood, I want to know about it. If the local fast-food restaurant is robbed, I want to know about it! Your police scanner will provide important information you need to know during any dangerous situation, situations such as: • • • • • • • • High-Speed Pursuits Crimes In Progress Neighborhood Lockdowns Suspect Search Containments Barricaded Suspect Operations Riots & Civil Unrest Bomb Threats Crime Scene Investigations & more!

Plus, you can help make your neighborhood safer by helping your local police out. It’s simple. Let’s say you hear a call about a robbery at the corner market. You can simply keep an eye out for suspects or vehicles used in the crime and notify police if you observe them. Anything helps. WARNING, NEVER ATTEMPT TO DETAIN OR CONFRONT A SUSPECT (S) INVOLVED IN A CRIME, INSTEAD, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY AND LET POLICE HANDLE THE SITUATION!

Disasters & Other Major Emergencies
Disasters and other major emergencies can strike at anytime with little or no warning. A scanner is an essential tool to have before, during, and after any major disaster such as: • • • • • • • • • Earthquakes Hurricanes Thunderstorms Tornadoes Floods Winter Storms Blizzards Severe Wind Condition Major Brush/Wildfires

Be ready when disaster strikes! During any of these events, experts estimate that you may be without help for up to 72 hours. In addition, utilities such as power and water may be out for significant amounts of time. You may even have to flee from your home with little or no warning to avoid danger. A portable scanner can provide you with key information during any major

disaster enabling you to take necessary action before it’s too late! There have been countless situations over the years where my scanner has been without a doubt, my most valuable possession.

Critical Mishaps & Accidents
Critical mishaps and accidents result from human error or intentional acts and can strike at anytime without little or no warning. These mishaps include, but are not limited to: • • • • • Toxic Chemical Spills Natural Gas Ruptures/Explosions Deadly Highway Hazards Power Outages/Blackouts Airline & Rail Disasters

When these events occur near you, your scanner can provide you with information you need to know to avoid danger before it’s too late!

Neighborhood Crime Awareness
Do You Know How Safe You Neighborhood Is? You would be surprised to learn about the number of things that occur every day right in your own neighborhood that you never hear about. With a scanner you can stay on top of these types of event that occur in your neighborhood because you’ll know exactly where, when, and how they occur. Not only that, you get a firsthand insight as to what cops have to deal with day-in and day-out laying their lives on the line, you will gain a new understanding of why they really are our heroes!

Help Make Your Neighborhood Safer!
A scanner can help you in making your neighborhood safer! I help make my neighborhood safer by acting as an extra set of eyes and ears for my local police, a one-man neighborhood watch operation! “Law Enforcement also noticed and realized that the communities in which citizens observed and reported suspicious activity had lower crime rates” - USAonWatch “Citizens with scanners are a valuable resource for the police department. Many times information has come from people with scanners that has led to crimes being solved.” - St. Joseph, Mo., Dec. 16, 2002 You too can use your scanner to help in making your own neighborhood safer. It’s simple! Let’s say you hear about a crime near you, just keep eyes and ears open for anything unusual like a vehicle speeding away from the area or maybe an unknown vehicle driving up and down your street as if “casing the neighborhood”. Call your local police station’s non-emergency number (call information for the number) and let them know you heard a call on your scanner and you have some information that may be related. If you do not wish to give your name, you can remain anonymous. If it’s an emergency, dial 911, otherwise, if it’s just to provide additional information, calling the station’s non-emergency line is fine.

1.5 Police Scanners & The Law
It has been a long held belief that owning and using a police scanner is illegal. The truth is that owning and using a scanner for use in your own home is legal, however, there are some things that are illegal to do with a scanner. In addition to Federal laws, local restrictions may apply and vary from state to state. For example, a few states require a permit or FCC amateur license for mobile scanner usage. Law regulating the use of radio scanners are enforced by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and spelled out in the ECPA (Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986). In a nut shell: • • • • • • • It is illegal to listen in on cellular and cordless phone calls. It is illegal to intercept encrypted or scrambled communications. It is illegal for scanner manufacturers to sell or import radio scanners that are capable of receiving cellular phone frequencies. (Note: This rule does not apply to sales by individuals and radio scanners made before 1985). It is illegal to modify radio scanners so that cellular phone frequencies can be received. It is illegal to use information you hear for personal gain. A common example is where a taxi driver listens to a competitor's dispatch channel for fare pick-ups and then races over and picks-up the fares. It is illegal to use information you hear to aid in the commission of a crime. It is illegal to disclose information you hear to other persons.

A full text copy of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 can be found here. It may sound complicated, but don’t worry, if you are a law-abiding citizen and are not a convicted felon, there you should not have a problem. The following resources listed below contain further information where you can learn more about scanning laws that may apply in your state. • • • Scanning Reference: Laws, Rules, & Regulations Link index to scanning law pages for various states. Mobile Scanner & Radar Detector Laws in US Great site! Lots of info here. American Law Sources Online Can’t find scanning law resources for your state? Try searching for it yourself at

Chapter 2: How Police Scanners Work
This chapter provides a basic overview of how a radio scanner works. Once you learn the basics on how a scanner works and what features do, using a scanner is a snap. Scanner operations can be summed up in the following categories: 2.1. Modes of Operation 2.2. Channels & Banks 2.3. Channel Entry 2.4. Standard Functions 2.5. Advanced Features 2.6. Range & Reception Issues

2.1. Modes of Operations
A scanner works by checking or “scanning” programmed frequency for a transmission. If no transmission is detected, it moves on to the next frequency in a continuous loop at an average of 100 frequencies or more per second. When a transmission is detected, it stops on that frequency to hear the transmission. Once a transmission is complete, it resumes scanning. Note: Most scanners have a delay function that set the scanner to pause 3 seconds after a transmission so that you won’t miss a reply. The Scan Mode The scan mode allows the scanner to scan pre-programmed or manually entered frequencies in a continuous loop as described above. When the scanner detects someone transmitting, it stops on that frequency allowing you to hear that transmission. The scanner’s display then shows the channel and frequency that is in use. High-end scanners allows you to use name identifiers, i.e., “LAPD –1”, “LAPD-2”, etc. The Manual Mode The manual mode allows you to manually step through channels or frequencies one at a time. This is useful when you only want to monitor one channel at a time or need to toggle between two channels. Also stops the scanning function allowing you to manually enter (program) frequencies. The Program Mode The program mode allows you to manually enter frequencies so that the scanner can scan them. Note: Older scanners do not have a “program” function and allow you to enter frequencies directly. The Search Mode The search mode allows you to search for transmissions between two sets of frequencies. This is helpful for finding unknown frequencies being used in your area. See section 2.3 below for more information on using the search function.

2.2. Channels & Banks
Channels and banks are how frequencies are stored and organized in a conventional scanner. Newer Uniden trunking and digital scanners have changed the way frequencies are stored and organized by utilizing a new technique called “Dynamic Memory Architecture” or “DMA“. In conventional scanners, the scanners memory is divided into banks and channels in the following manner: Channels Channels are memory locations where frequencies are stored. Channels are numbered from “1” up to the maximum number of channel available. Each channel can be locked out excluding it from being scanned until it is unlocked. Channel Banks Banks organize channels into even blocks of 10, 20, 25, and 50 channels per bank. For example: • • • A 20-channel scanner would be divided into two (2) banks of 10 channels each. A 50-channel scanner would be divided into five (5) banks of 10 channels each. A 100-channel scanner would be divided into ten (10) banks with 10-channels each or it may be divided into five (5) banks with 20 channels each.

I have a Uniden Bearcat 9000XLT base scanner. The 9000XLT comes with 500-channels divided into 20 banks, 0 through 9 & A through J, each with 25 channels. Photo: Uniden BC9000XLT I also use the Pro-94 Dual Trunking handheld scanner. The Pro-94 comes with 1000-channels divided into 2 master banks, A & B, each containing 10 sub-banks with 50-channels each. Banks can be turned on or off by pressing the bank number while the scanner is scanning. In the off position, the bank disappears from the display and all channels in that bank are excluded from scanning until the bank is turned back on. Dynamic Memory Architecture or “DMA” Newer scanner model from Uniden (the SC230, BC246T, BR330T, BCD396T, BCT15 and the BCD996T) incorporate a new memory technology known as Dynamic Memory Architecture, or DMA. DMA allows for more efficient and flexible use of scanner memory by not imposing fixed sizes for banks or scanlists. This type of memory architecture uses memory spaces more efficiently and eliminates unused memory channels or spaces. Instead of being organized into separate banks and channels, the scanner’s memory is contained in a pool. You simply use as much memory as you need in the pool to store as many frequencies, talk group ID’s, and alpha tags as you need.

The radio can be configured to have multiple “Systems” containing multiple “Groups”. A Group can contain conventional frequencies or Talkgroup IDs in a trunked system. The size of a System and the Groups within it are only limited by the amount of available memory in the radio. DMA Memory requires that frequencies be programmed in a "System > Sub-System" hierarchy. Conventional Systems contain only Groups of frequencies. Trunked systems contain one Group of frequencies and multiple Groups of Talkgroup IDs arranged in any logical order you want. A site is group of frequencies, or channels, used by a particular geographic location in a Trunk system. A Trunk system can have many sites, each containing a set of frequencies associated with that geographic site location.

2.3. Channel Entry
There are several ways to enter and store a frequency into a scanner. The two most common ways are manual entry, search & store mode, and in newer scanners, by signal capture.

Manual Entry
Conventional Scanners Programming a conventional radio system into a conventional scanner is pretty simple. It involves selecting a channel then using the keypad to enter the frequency. Although scanners vary widely, programming a frequency is common in most conventional scanners. 1. Press the “Manual” button to enter the manual mode. 2. Enter the channel number, then press the “Manual” button again. (Some models require you to press the “prog” (program) button to enter a frequency. 3. Enter the frequency including the “.“ (decimal), then press the “Enter” button.
*Note: Some scanners round entries to the nearest hundredth. For example, 483.687 would be round to 483.675 an entirely different frequency. To resolve this problem, enter the frequency with an extra digit on the end. For example, 483.6875 would be accepted as 483.687.

Note: See chapter 8 for tips on programming and monitoring a trunk scanner. Trunking & Digital Scanners Programming a trunk radio system into a trunking-capable scanner involves a different process than that of a conventional scanner. Since programming instructions vary from trunkingscanner to trunking-scanner, you will have to consult your scanner’s manual for your specific instructions. Note: See chapter 8 for tips on programming and monitoring a trunk scanner.

Search & Store Function

This option involves using the search function to search for active frequencies within a range of frequencies. By using your scanners search function to find unknown frequencies, you can often find something interesting to monitor. Searching for frequencies is different than scanning where "Scan" allows your radio to run through your preset memory channels, stopping on any channel that is active, "Search" allows you to search a range, or band of frequencies, without entering "specific" frequencies. Some scanners allow you to program an upper & lower freq "limit",("limit search") & will then Search all frequencies between them. Other Scanner Radios may allow only searches within Factory Preset Bands, ("Band, or Service Search") or both. Using the Search Function to Find Frequencies You simply set a “Lo” frequency and a “Hi” frequency you would like to search and then let it search. For example, you could set it to search between 470.0000 MHz and 471.000 MHz and the scanner will search that range until an active frequency is found. That frequency can then be moved to an open channel for regular monitoring. Consult your scanner’s manual for your specific instructions. If you do not have a manual for your scanner and need one, visit our General Scanning Information page for links to scanner manuals. Using the Search Function 1. Program a frequency range, hi & low. 2. Set scanner to search and leave it on. When you hear some activity, make a note of the frequency and include a little not on what you heard. 3. Be patient, may take some time, may not hear nothing depending on what you are listing to. 4. Keep records, they will come in handy later and eventually form the base for your own database.

2.4. Standard Functions
New basic-end scanners always contain the following standard functions: Volume – the volume function is used to adjust volume sound. Squelch – the squelch function is used to quiet the background radio noise on a frequency. WX – the WX button activates the auto-scan of pre-programmed NOAA weather frequencies for the 24-hour National Weather Service broadcast in your area. Numeric Keypad – the numeric keypad contains all the buttons for most scanner operation including numeric buttons used for entering frequencies. Search – the search function is used to search for active frequencies within a range of frequencies.

Manual – the manual function is used to stop on or step through channels one at a time. Scan – the scan function causes the scanner to enter the scan mode. Delay – the delay function is used to activate a 3-second delay on selected channels. Lockout – the lockout function causes the scanner to skip selected channels during the scanning mode. Priority – the priority function is used to set the scanner to check a selected channel every 3seconds so that transmissions on that channel are not missed when the scanner is stopped for transmissions on another channel. Display – the display has indicators that give the status of what more and action the scanner is operating in the scanner like what channel and frequency it’s on. Display Light – this display light allows you to see the display in low-light or dark conditions.

2.5. Advanced Functions
The following features are usually found on new mid to high-end scanners and can be extremely useful to have. Digital Capability – this feature allows you to follow transmissions from digital radio systems. To learn all about trunk radio, check out the links listed under the trunk scanner resources category in the scanner resource database. More on digital radio systems can be found in Chapter 3. Note: A digital-capable scanner can follow conventional analog and digital radio systems as well analog and digital trunked radio systems. Trunking Capability – this feature allows you to follow transmissions from trunked radio systems. To learn all about trunk radio, check out the links listed under the trunk scanner resources category in the scanner resource database. More on trunked radio systems can be found in Chapter. Note: A trunk-capable scanner will only work analog trunked radio systems and conventional analog radio systems. Computer Interface – this feature allows you to use software to easily program your scanner. This feature is a TIME SAVER! Why? Programming frequencies is a time consuming process! 800 MHz Public Service – many public safety agencies are upgrading to this band for communications. Digital and trunk-capable scanners are already 800MHz band-capable. Alphanumeric Programming – this feature allows you to enter alpha or numerical characters for channel identifiers. This will allow you to quickly see what frequency is active instead of having to remember what frequency belongs to whom. Send/Transfer – this feature allows you to easily move frequencies from one channel to another channel. Be sure the channel you are sending it to does not have a useful frequency already programmed into it or you will lose it.

Signal Attenuation – this feature allows you to reduce the scanner’s sensitivity from picking up strong signals that cause interference. Data Skip – this feature lets you set the scanner to continue searching or scanning when is comes across a data signal. CTCSS Capability – "CTCSS" is an acronym for "Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System", CTCSS is a system tone sub-audible tones that are used to avoid interference between different agencies within close proximity to each other using the same frequency. More on CTCSS can be found in Section 3.2. Line/AUX Jacks – this feature allows you to connect a tape recorder or external speaker.

2.6. Range & Reception Issues
There are many factors affect the range and reception of a scanner. These factors include, but are not limited to the following: Line of Sight – line of sight means you usually cannot hear stations beyond the horizon, or approximately 30-35 miles away. Of course this will depend on the surrounding terrain, the type of antenna you are using, and if it is on a repeater system. Repeated or Non-Repeated Stations – If a radio is being used in simplex, or “talk-around” mode, then that means that each radio is communicating directly to the other radios on that frequency in that area. Simplex range can vary from several blocks to several miles depending on how much power the radios are putting out, the type and position of your antenna, and the surrounding terrain. This range is typically 3-5 miles. For ranges beyond this limitation, a repeater system is used. A repeater is a device that is used to extend the range of mobile and portable radios. Public safety agencies need to communicate using portable or mobile radios over the distance limitations posed by handheld and mobile radios, which is approximately 3-5 miles. A repeater also allows communications where buildings usually block the radio signals. Generally, a repeater is placed on a building, radio tower, mountain, or other tall structure. The higher up the repeater's antenna, the larger coverage area, or range the signal will have. The repeater works by listening to what the radios are transmitting and simultaneously broadcast it back over a larger area. More information on repeaters can be found in the next chapter. Frequency Behavior – lower frequencies behave different than higher frequencies. Lower Frequencies travel farther giving you greater range. On the flip side, higher frequencies travel shorter distances reducing your range. Basically, you can hear signals in the 30MHz bands much farther than frequencies in the 800MHz band. Surrounding Terrain – the surrounding terrain can affect reception in different ways. If you are on flat land or water, reception will be at its greatest. If you are in a mountain or canyon area, your scanner will have trouble receiving radio signals or may not be able to receive signals at all with the standard (rubber-ducky) antenna. See the accessories section in this chapter for antenna options to overcome such limitation.

Chapter 3: Radio Bands & Frequencies
3.1. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 3.2. Radio Frequencies 3.3. Frequency Allocations 3.4. Frequency Bands 3.5. Conventional, Trunked, & Digital Radio Systems The scope of this chapter is to provide a basic overview of how radio bands and frequencies apply to radio scanning. This chapter is not meant to be an explanation into how the radio spectrum works, from which radio bands and frequencies result. A technical explanation into how the radio spectrum works would be well beyond the scope of this book. Besides, you do not need to know all that technical mumbo-jumbo to enjoy scanning. If, however, you are interested in learning the technical aspects of how the radio spectrum works, check out this tutorial on how the radio spectrum works from All references to radio bands and frequencies apply to the USA only.

3.1. Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Every country has its own rules governing radio usage. In the US, the FCC is the government agency that handles issues regarding radio transmissions, usage, and licenses for all nonmilitary radio systems. The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) is the branch of the FCC that handles nearly all FCC domestic wireless telecommunications programs and policies. To learn more about the wireless communication services, click here. The National Telecommunications & Information Administration’s (NTIA) Office of Spectrum Management (OSM) is responsible for managing the Federal Government's use of the radio frequency spectrum. The US Radio Frequency Spectrum Allocation establishes which radio services operate in a given frequency band. There are thirty different radio services in over 450 separate frequency bands. You can view the US Radio Frequency Allocation Chart (in pdf format) here. The chart graphically partitions the radio frequency spectrum, extending from 9 kHz to 300 GHz, into over 450 frequency bands, and uses distinct colors to distinguish the allocations for the thirty different radio services. For more information, see: Basic Elements of Spectrum Management.

3.2. Radio Frequencies
A frequency is a path or “channel” used for communications. It is a spot on a radio band identified by its number. To hear transmissions for what you want to listen to, you must have the specific frequency for that channel programmed into your scanner. For example, my local police department’s (Covina PD) main dispatch frequency is 154.725 MHz. In busy/populated areas, police and fire agencies will probably have several frequencies that they will use for daily operations. You will most likely find a separate frequency for dispatch,

car-to-car, tactical use, detectives, and so on. My local police department has a secondary frequency for car-to-car/tactical communications. In addition, there is a separate channel for investigators. For fire agencies, you will most likely find a separate frequency for dispatch, response coordination, on-scene “fireground” tactical use, paramedic, and so on. A full overview of police and fire radio communications is included in chapter 9. Channel Designators A channel designation is used to identify a frequency by name rather than by number. For example, Channel-1 (dispatch) and Channel-2, Frequency-1 and Frequency-2, or Blue channel, Red channel, Primary and secondary, etc. Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) CTCSS is a system that is used to avoid interference between separate agencies within close proximity to each other using the same frequency. Each radio for a particular agency is programmed with a CTCSS code so that only those radios can hear and talk with each other and not a neighboring agency. The system involves an industry standard set of sub-audible tones for controlling radios and associated equipment. The sub-audible tone is added to the transmitted signal. The receiving radio is then set up to listen for this specific tone in the received and demodulated audio. If the matching tone is present, the squelch is opened up, allowing the audio to pass through to the speaker. If the tone is not present, then the radio remains silent, even though there is a signal on the frequency. This allows two or more agencies to use the same frequency (generally on a repeater), but not hear each other's conversations. CTCSS is also called "PL Tone" and is the Motorola Proprietary name for CTCSS. Several other companies have marketed their own brands of CTCSS under different names including “Channel Guard”, “Quiet Channel”, “Quiet Mode”, and “Private Mode”. DCS on the other hand stands for Digitally Controlled Squelch. It is also called DPL or Digital Private Line and Digital Channel Guard. DCS is a digital code that is sent to open the squelch just like the tone does in CTCSS. Some newer high-end scanners come with a CTCSS DCS/PL decoder built in it. If an agency is the only user in the area, there's no need to worry about a PL tone to filter out other users. There are advantages however, like in the busy Los Angeles area it keeps a lot of junk out of your speaker especially driving in areas near LAX or the Long Beach Airport. Without CTCSS or DCS, your scanner will get blasted with stuff you just don't want to hear. For a more detailed explanation of CTCSS/PL & DPL Tone Codes, see the Delaware Repeater Association’s article: CTCSS, PL, Tone Squelch, and Other Necessary Evils.

3.3. Frequency Allocations

Land Mobile Radio Service (LMRS) Previously there were twenty radio categories allocated for land-mobile usage divided into the four main service groups below. This radio service allocation system was known as the Land Mobile Radio Service (LMRS) and was divided in the following manner: Public Safety Radio Service • • • • • • • • Police Fire/Paramedic Forestry Conservation Highway Maintenance Local Government Emergency Medical Special Emergency

Business Radio Service • • • • • • Business Special Industrial Forest Products Petroleum Telephone Maintenance Film and Video Production

Industrial Radio Service • • • Power & Utilities Manufacturing Companies Relay Press

Land Transportation Radio Service • • • Motor Carrier Railroad Taxicab

The FCC is has recently completed the “re-farming” or restructuring of the land-mobile frequency categories above. Under this new allocation system, the main categories above have been combined and/or expanded into two major categories, the Public Safety Radio Pool and the Industrial/Business Radio Pool. Public Safety Radio Pool The Public Safety Radio Pool covers the licensing of radio communications of state and local governmental & municipal entities. This new setup expands the previous system to include more activities: • Police & fire service

• • • • • • • • • •

Medical services Rescue organizations Veterinarians Assisting persons with disabilities Disaster relief organizations School buses Beach patrols Establishments in isolated places Communications standby facilities Emergency repair of public communications facilities

Industrial/Business Radio Pool The Industrial/Business Radio Pool is composed of frequencies that were previously allotted to any of the Industrial, Land Transportation, or Business Radio Service. The Industrial/Business Radio Pool covers the licensing of the radio communications for entities engaged in the following commercial activities: • • • • Clergy or religious institutions The operation of educational, philanthropic, or ecclesiastical institutions The operation of hospitals, clinics, & medical associations Manufacturing and public transportation

3.4. Frequency Bands
In section 3.3, we went over how frequencies were allocated for usage. In this section we will go over how the categories are further divided into “frequency bands”. Frequency bands are comprised of a range of frequencies. The following list contains some common radio frequency bands for monitoring. A complete listing of FCC Frequency Band Allocations can be found here. 29.000 – 50.000 MHz 50.000 – 54.000 MHz 108.000 – 136.000 MHz 138.000 - 144.000 MHz 144.000 - 148.000 MHz 150.000 - 174.000 MHz 406.000 – 420.000 MHz 420.000 – 450.000 MHz 450.000 – 470.000 MHz 470.000 – 512.000 MHz 806.000 – 940.000 MHz 851.000 – 866.000 MHz 866.000 – 869.000 MHz * MHz – Megahertz Government, business, two-way and cordless phones. 6-meter Amateur Radio Aircraft Government 2-meter Amateur Radio Shared by Business, Maritime, Weather, & Public Safety Government Amateur Radio Shared by Business, Industry, Government, & Public Safety Public Safety “800 Band” Public Safety Business & Public Safety Public Safety

Keep in mind that not all scanners can receive all the bands above. More details on scanner range capability is contained in next chapter.

3.5. Conventional, Trunked, & Digital RAdio Systems
There are three types of public safety radio systems in use today. • • • Conventional Radio Systems Trunked Radio Systems Digital APCO-25 Radio Systems

Conventional Analog Radio Systems
Conventional radio systems are the most basic type of radio system and operate in one of three ways: Simplex - also referred to as Direct. In a simplex radio system, everybody transmits and receives on one frequency. This is the way everybody did it many years ago. A lot of organizations and agencies still do (especially smaller ones). Simplex is also used for local tactical communications - for example the fireground communications at a fire. Since VHF and UHF radio signals are generally limited to line of sight, range is short. It is quite possible for a scanner listener (or system user) to be able to hear one side of a conversation, but not the other because one station is in range of you, and the other is not. For example, if I were monitoring a simplex channel from my house in Glendora (in the east San Gabriel Valley), I may be able to hear a station in Pomona who is talking to another station in Chino. I could hear the Pomona station, but not the Chino station. Repeated duplex - generally referred to as repeater or repeated. In a repeated radio system, there is a special radio called a repeater that is normally on a mountaintop that listens on one channel (the input) and retransmits whatever it receives onto another channel (the output) in real time. Field radios transmit on the input frequency and listen to the output frequency. Since the repeater is normally located on a high location, range is generally much greater than a simplex radio system; anyone in range of the repeater can talk to anyone else who is also in range of the repeater - even if they are not in range of each other. For example, if the repeater were on Mt. Wilson, a user in San Fernando would be able to talk to another station in Riverside because both are in range of the repeater. For a scanner user, you normally only need to monitor the output frequency because the repeater retransmits all the communications. If you can hear the repeater, you hear everybody. If you are out of range of the repeater, you are out of communications. In extremely simple terms, all trunked systems are repeated duplex. Non-repeated Duplex - In a non-repeated duplex radio system, some users transmit on one channel and some on a different. Normally, the dispatcher transmits on one channel and the field personnel talk on another. There is no repeater however so one channel does not get repeater onto the other. The California Highway Patrol does it in most of the state. For example, in my area (Baldwin Park CHP office), the dispatchers transmit on 42.88 MHz and the mobiles transmit on 42.66 MHz. The only way to hear both sides of the conversation is to monitor both channels (either with a scanning radio or two separate radios). In the current CHP mobile radios, the radio scans between the base and mobile channels so an officer can hear another car a mile down the freeway. In the previous generation of CHP mobile radios, there were two receivers, one

listening to the base and the other to the mobile channel. One of the disadvantages of a nonrepeated radio system is that a mobile user can not tell that there is another station transmitting on the input channel. If a second user starts transmitting, generally no one is heard. This is part of the reason that CHP has the ability for the officers in the field to monitor the mobile channel. The LA County Sheriff's Dept normally operates its dispatch channels in non-repeated mode. They actually do have repeaters, but have decided to not have them repeat most of the time. Because of the previously mentioned problem of one deputy not being able to tell that there is another person transmitting on the input channel, LASO has their repeaters (that are not repeating) transmit a "busy" tone on the output whenever there is someone transmitting on the input. That way one deputy knows that the channel is busy and he should not transmit. ### I would like to give special thanks Jim Walls, K6CCC, for his contribution to the above information on conventional radio systems.

Trunking Radio Systems (Analog or digital)
In a trunk radio system (TRS), a large number of users can share up to 28 frequencies. Users are assigned a “group id” and field radios are programmed to only pick-up transmissions for that group. A computer, called the “site controller”, automatically assigns a frequency for users belonging to the same group to communicate with each other. This is done over a data channel called the “control channel”, which carries data that tells field radios what frequency they are on. Trunk radio systems may have one or more control channels that rotate every 24hours. Sound complicated? Let’s say that local police are communicating on one frequency. As soon as there is a break in the communications, the controller automatically moves all users in that talkgroup to the next available frequency. At the same time, the fire department is on another frequency, as soon as there is a break in communications, the controller moves them to the next available frequency, maybe even the one police were just on. This makes efficient use of all frequencies whereas in a conventional system, frequencies are used only when they are needed. For this reason, many police and fire agencies are moving up to trunking radio systems for their communication needs. There are several different types of trunk radio systems, they include; Motorola, EDACS (Enhanced Digital Access Communication System), & LTR (Logic Trunked Radio). You can learn more about trunk tracking at the Trunk Radio Information Site.

Digital Radio Systems (Digital)
Digital APCO-25 offers a radio solution that complies with an industry standard that allows systems to interoperate, without regard to who the manufacturer is. The benefits for public safety are: • • • Coordinate communications with other agencies and jurisdictions. Purchase radios and other equipment from more than one vendor. Upgrade or migrate systems without replacing all your equipment.

Share resources with other organizations to control costs.

The standard making all this possible is called Project 25, developed by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials - International (APCO). Project 25 specifies a Common Air Interface (CAI) that allows different systems to interoperate. There are four different types of APCO P-25 Radio Systems: • • • • Conventional P-25 - one or more frequencies with digital voice. Trunked at 3600 baud - digital voice with analog control channel operating at 3600 baud. This is the most common P-25 system currently in use. Mixed Mode at 3600 baud - trunked system with an analog control channel alternating/mixing analog and digital voice communications. Pure Digital at 9600 baud - trunked system with digital analog control channel and digital voice operating at 9600 baud.

Click hear to go to our audio page and hear audio clips of several of the above radio systems. (Scroll down). Note: Digital radio systems can be either simplex or repeated, although most are repeated. The Radio Reference Website has an excellent overview of APCO-25 and Digital Trunking. Click “APCO-25/Digital” under ‘System Info’ on the left column. APCO-25 Information Pages If you want to learn more about APCO P-25 radio, then check out these resources: • • • • • Motorola Project 25 – Motorola’s Project 25 Homepage. The APCO Project 25 Homepage - Here you can find white papers and technical documents regarding the APCO-25 Digital public safety project - on the APCO International Web Site Project 25 Overview - PDF Document with general Project 25 information. Project 25 Discussion List –Yahoo groups mailing list dedicated to project-25 information. ASTRO 25 Conventional Systems Overview - An online training course developed by Motorola. This interactive browser-based program covers the capabilities, configurations, and features of an ASTRO 25 System with Integrated Voice and Data (IVD) and Over-The-Air-Re-keying (OTAR). The APCO International Web Site - This page is homepage for the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials. They are the group that defines standards for Public Safety communications in the United States Users Accelerate Move To Project 25 Systems, Technology - An APCO bulletin posted on the Motorola Web site. This outlines how many large Public Safety agencies across the U.S. have chosen APCO-25 compliant digital system for Public Safety communications. Gives examples of which agencies have made the switch, and which agencies are about to.

• •

Chapter 4: Buying The Right Scanner
With the large selection of radio scanners on the market and wide gap in price ranges, finding a scanner to fit your needs as well as your budget can be overwhelming and confusing. The information contained here is provided to help you make an informed buying decision. There is nothing worse than buying an expensive scanner only to find that all you needed was a basicend scanner. The following information is broken down into the following topics: 4.1. Question to Answer 4.2. Conventional, Trunk, and Digital Scanner 4.3. Handheld, Base, Mobile, or PC-Based 4.4. Radio Band Coverage 4.5. Channel Capacity 4.6. Price Ranges 4.7. Where To Buy Scanners

4.1. Questions to Answer
In choosing a scanner that is right for you, you will need to answer the following questions as they will ultimately affect the overall cost, capabilities, and limitations of the scanner you purchase. ! Do you need a conventional, trunking, or digital scanner? ! Do you want a portable, base, mobile, or PC based scanner? ! Do you need special radio band coverage beyond basic? ! How many channels do you really need? ! How much are you willing to spend? The following sections below will help you find the answers to the above questions so that you can get the best bargain for your dollar while maximizing your scanner’s capability.

4.2. Conventional, Trunk, or Digital Scanner
Several different companies manufacture scanners, each with there own line of models to choose from. Brand manufacturers include: • • • • • • • • Uniden Radio Shack AOR Alinco Icom Yaesu Yupiteru and Maycom

There are three different types of scanners available on the market; conventional, trunk, and digital-capable scanners. Out of all the manufacturers above, Uniden and Radio Shack are the only two manufacturers that have kept up with scanning technology that is able to follow the technology used in trunked and digital radio systems making Uniden and Radio Shack by far the most popular brands. All of the other manufactures offer high-quality radio scanners, but are limited to conventional types. For this reason, only information on Uniden and Radio Shack models is provided herein. I myself only used Radio Shack and Uniden scanners and have found both to be equally excellent. There are three different types of scanners available, conventional, trunk, and digital-capable scanners. Conventional Scanners Conventional scanners are capable of picking up only conventional analog (non-digital) radio transmissions. Perfect is you do not need trunking or digital capability in your area. Trunk Tracking Scanners We discussed trunking radio systems in section 3. Now we will look at trunking-capable scanners. Trunking-capable scanners are needed to monitor and tracking communications on a trunked radio system. If you live in a small rural town that is on a trunked system with a small number of users, then you can probably get by using a conventional scanner that is 800MHzcapable. For large trunked radio system with many users, it would be virtually impossible to follow a conversation without a trunking scanner. For my trunking needs, I use Radio Shack’s Pro-94 Dual Trunk Tracker scanner. Here is a list of popular trunking scanners on the market: (Note: some models listed below may have been discontinued and can only be found on the used market).

Radio Shack Models • • • • • • • • • • • Pro-90 (h) Pro-91 (h) Pro-92 (h) Pro-93 (h) Pro-94 (h) Pro-95 (h) Pro-96 (h/d) Pro-2050 (b/m) Pro-2052 (b/m) Pro-2066 (b/m) Pro-2067 (b/m)

Uniden Bearcat Models • • • • • • • BC235XLT (h) BC245XLT (h) BC246T (h) BC780XLT (b/m) BC895XLT (b/m) BC898T (b/m) BCT8 (b/m)

(h) = Handheld (b) = Base Station (m) = Mobile

Digital APCO-25 Scanners

Digital–capable scanners are the latest technology to hit the market in the last few years. Because this technology is new, there are only a few digital scanner models available on the market to choose from and only by Uniden and Radio Shack. Uniden was the first to put out digital scanners in late 2002, the BC296d (handheld model) and the BC796d (base model). A year later in September 2003, Radio Shack released its much-anticipated digital scanner, the Pro-96. More recently, Uniden has put out second-generation digital scanners and Radio Shack has theirs due out in late 2005. Here are the current digital scanners on the market: • • • • •
• •

Radio Shack Pro-96 (h) Radio Shack Pro-2096 (b/m) – coming Jan. 2005 Uniden BC250d (h)* Uniden BC785d (b/m)* Uniden BC296d (h) Uniden BC796d (b/m) Uniden BCD396T (h)

(h) = Handheld (b) = Base Station

*An accessory digital card, the BCi25d, is needed to receive digital signals.

Note: Digital Scanners can track both analog and digital radio systems. So Which Type Do You Need? Well now, that all depends on what type of system your local area is using; conventional, trunked or digital radio system. You will need to know this before you shell out hard-earned money for a new analog trunk or expensive digital scanner. If you already have a scanner and previously were able to listen to your local public safety agencies in the 150, 450-480, or 800 MHz and now all you hear is whizzes and buzzing (play audio) instead of the normal communications you used to hear, then most likely they have switched to a digital radio system. If you do not hear anything at all, then it’s also possible that they have upgraded to an analog trunked radio system. If this is the case, then you will need an analog trunk trackingcapable scanner. If your local agency has switched to a digital radio system, then you will need a digital-capable scanner. To find out if a trunked or digital radio system is being used in your area, visit your local radio shack and ask them. The sales person should know this information since they offer in-store scanner programming. Note: If your agency has gone digital, you should be able to monitor them with one of the new digital scanners unless they are using encryption to scramble their communications as in the case of Orange County (CA) or Philadelphia's (PA) radio system. If they are using encryption, then you are out of luck because there is no way possible to monitor these "closed" radio systems.

4.3. Handheld, Base, Mobile, or PC-based
Scanners come in four types. Portable Handheld Base Station or Mobile PC-based

(Radio Shack Pro-94)

(Radio Shack Pro-2022)

(WiNRADiO-1550i )

Here are some pros and cons for each: Portable Handheld This type of scanner is made for portable use and can be used anywhere and carried in a purse or on your belt via an included belt clip. Some handhelds come with a re-chargeable battery pack or require “AA” sized batteries. Handhelds can also run on household current and use an external antenna. Base Station This type is made for stationary use such as on a bedroom stand or living room table. Runs on AC power. Some models can be also used as a mobile scanner. Mobile Mount (prohibited in some states) This type is made for mobile use in a vehicle via mounting brackets. Runs on the vehicle’s power current. Mobile scanners can also be used as a base station with the proper power adapter. Be sure to check local laws in your state for any restrictions or requirements. Use the resources listed under “Scanning Laws” in the Scanner Resource Database. PC Software This type is made for use on a personal computer. Comes with a PCI card for the antenna setup and is controlled by an on-screen interface controller. Runs on PC’s power. Which do you prefer? If you just want to listen to your scanner only when you are at home, a base station is fine for you. If you travel a lot or just want to be able to take it along and listen anywhere, then a handheld scanner would be your best choice. You can carry it on your belt-clip or in your purse wherever you go.

I prefer a handheld myself because during a major earthquake or severe weather conditions, power may be out, possibly for hours and there’s nothing like having a battery operated scanner to monitor police and fire radio for dangerous conditions and helpful information!

4.4. Radio Band Coverage
The majority of scanner users listen to police and fire communications because that is where all the action and excitement is. The good thing is that most police and fire communications fall within popular radio bands that are included in most new radio scanners. What you need to decide is you’re going to need radio band coverage beyond basic coverage. Here is how radio coverage is broken down as follows: Basic Radio Band Coverage Here are the standard frequency bands that come installed in most basic new scanners: • • • • • • • • 29.7 to 50 MHz - VHF-Lo Band, (5 kHz step) 50 to 54 MHz - 6-meter Amateur Radio, (5 kHz step) 137 to 144 MHz – Military Land Mobile Band, (5 kHz step) 144 to 148 MHz - 2-meter Amateur Radio, (5 kHz step) 148 to 174 MHz - VHF-Hi Band, (5 kHz step) 420 to 450 MHz - 70-cm Amateur Radio, (12.5 kHz step) 450 to 470 MHz - UHF-Lo Band, (12.5 kHz step) 470 to 512 MHz - UHF-T Band, (12.5 kHz step)

For experience I can tell you that most of the action takes place within the two following bands: • • 148 to 174 MHz - VHF-Hi Band, (5 kHz step) 470 to 512 MHz - UHF-T Band, (12.5 kHz step)

Extended Radio Band Coverage Here is where the cost of a scanner increases. These bands are usually beyond basic coverage and found on medium to high-end scanners: • • • • • Aviation Radio Band - 108 to 136 MHz, (12.5 kHz step). 800MHz Public Service Band – 800 to 956 MHz, (12.5 kHz step, minus cellular phones) Military Aircraft and Land-Mobile Bands – 225 to 406 MHz, (5 kHz step) Federal Government Band - 406 to 420 MHz, (12.5 kHz step) Complete Band Coverage* – 25 to 1300 MHz

* Full coverage is only available in high-end scanners. So, do you really need extended coverage? Well, let see… If you live by an airport, you might want to listen in on air traffic control or ground crew operations. If that’s the case, you’re going to need the 108-136 MHz Air-band and that will cost extra. If you live in or near a military base, it would be good to have the 225-406 MHz Military Aircraft and Land-Mobile Bands to listen in on what’s going on in and around the base. Many

police and fire agencies such as the Los Angeles City Fire Department use conventional "800" MHz Public Service frequencies. If that were the case, you would need the 800MHz band. So, the bottom line is that the more coverage you want, the more it will cost you. I recommend more coverage if your budget allows. Note: The majority of public safety trunked and digital radio systems operate in the 800MHz public safety with the exception of conventional P-25 digital systems that use their original frequencies.

4.5. Channel Capacity
How many channels do you need? When it comes to channels, more may be better depending on if you live in an urban, sub-urban, or rural area. The bottom line: if your budget can afford it, more is better. Radio scanners vary in the number of channels they contain come in the following channel configurations: • • • • • • • • • • • • • 10-Channels 20-Channels 30-Channels 40-Channels 50-Channels 60-Channels 80-Channels 100-Channels 150-Channels 200-Channels 300-Channels 500-Channels 1000-Channels

So, how many channels do you really need? When it comes to channels, it all depends on where you live. If you live in a rural area, you don’t need as many as if you live in populated urban or suburban areas. Again, the bottom line here - if your budget can afford it, more is better. Metropolitan or Suburban Areas If you live in a large metropolitan or inner-city area, you local police and fire department may be large and use many frequencies. 100-200-channels at minimum would be a good start and if you can afford it, 300-500 would be great. Also keep in mind that in busy areas channels can fill-up fast so it’s good to have the extra room. Rural Areas If you live in a rural area with a small police or fire department, they may use a small number of channels or even share the same channels. You could get by with 50-channels at a minimum, but I would get 100-200 channels to be on the safe side.

4.6. Price Ranges
As previously mentioned, the most popular brands of radio scanners are Uniden or Radio Shack brands because they offer trunking and digital-capability on selected models. The following is a rundown on what kind of prices you may be looking at. Prices are based on Uniden & Radio Shack brands only. The other brands tend to be high-end (and higher-priced) radio scanners geared towards experienced scanner users. New Scanners Price ranges for new in-box radio scanners run anywhere from $100 for a basic low-end model up to $1000 or more for high-end models. If you require a scanner with trunking capabilities, expect to pay between $200-$400 and up. If you require a scanner with digital capability expect to pay anywhere from $350-$600. Used Scanners Great deals can be found on used scanners. Some people buy a scanner and find it’s too complicated or they don’t know how to use them and they end up selling them real cheap. If you don’t need trunk or digital capabilities, you can find excellent deals on older conventional scanner models for $10-25 - really cheap. I once bought a nice "like new" Radio Shack Pro-34 10-channel scanner ($109 original retail price) in the local classified ads for $8. I called the guy and went down to see it. It was in excellent condition and I bought it. In fact, I still have it! One thing to keep in mind is that if you are buying a used scanner, it could be damaged. What I do is take extra "AA" batteries (5 at most), put them in then program the NOAA weather frequency for my area. If you can hear NOAA, then the scanner works. If it has a lot of static, it might be a sign that something may be loose inside. Buyers beware. Refurbished Scanners Great deals can also be found through websites that sell refurbished models. Refurbished models are scanners were either returned or were store display models. They are sold "likenew", having been inspected, repaired or reconditioned, and certified to work like, well, like "new."

4.7. Where to Buy
Visit our Police Scanners & Accessories page for a complete overview of where to buy police scanners. Got there now...

Chapter 5: Police Scanner Accessories
Ah yes, those scanning extras that are made to enhance your scanning experience. When it comes to scanner accessories, there is an extensive assortment of products to choose from. We have divided scanner accessories into the following categories: • • • • • • • • • 5.1. Antennas 5.2. Extension Speakers 5.3. Radio Earphones 5.4. Batteries 5.5. Battery Chargers 5.6. AC Adapters 5.7. DC Adapters 5.8. Protective Cases 5.9. Surge Protectors

5.1. Antennas
When you purchase a scanner, it comes with a standard "rubber ducky" antenna. Rubber ducky antennas usually work fine, but if you want to increase distance and improve reception then you will need an additional antenna other the standard antenna that comes with your scanner. The following are a few types to choose from: • • • • • • Rubber Ducky – This type of antenna is the basic antenna that comes with every scanner buy on the market. Telescoping Antenna - This type of antenna is made for portable use and comes in three stages allowing you to adjust the high for specific bands. Omni-Directional – This type of antenna is made to maximize your scanner’s range and reception. They can be either mounted on a roof or on a pole. The higher the antenna is placed, the farther the reception. Discone - This type of antenna is made to maximize your scanner’s range and reception. They can be either mounted on a roof or on a pole. The higher the antenna is placed, the farther the reception. Magnet Mount - This type of antenna is made for mobile use, allowing you to mount the antenna on any metal surface such as the roof or trunk of a vehicle. They come in three stages allowing you to adjust the high for specific bands. Window Mount - This type of antenna is also made for mobile use, allowing you to mount the antenna onto the window edge.

I recommend the following: For Handheld Scanners — Radio Shack sells a telescoping antenna (Stock #20-006A - $10) that is an excellent buy. For Base Scanners, a discone (roofmounted) antenna is recommended. Search Google for any of the antenna type to find more information on a particular antenna or check out our Police Scanner Antennas auction page for great deals on antenna auctions on ebay.

5.2. Extension Speaker
An external speaker comes in handy in noisy places. Check out Radio Shack for extension speakers.

5.3. Radio Earphones
• • • • • Some receivers come with an earphone for private listening. Some are better designed and contoured to fit the ear, which helps with comfort during extended listening sessions. You should also consider cord length, color and whether or not an ear clip is necessary. While great for private listening, they allow the other ear to hear what’s going on around you that is important in some cases where headphones might be a hindrance or danger. Earphones are also great for unobtrusive monitoring. Put the radio in a jacket pocket and feed the cord up your back. From there it’s a short jump to your ear making it very hard to detect what you’re doing.

5.4. Batteries
• • • • Batteries come in all shapes and sizes. With regard to handhelds, they usually take AA size cells of the alkaline, NiCd, NiMH, Lithium or Lithium-Ion variety. Alkalines deliver a lot of power and are best known by the most common name brands; Duracell, Energizer, and Panasonic. All have very long shelf lives. One semi-recent innovation is the rechargeable alkaline cells, which need a special charger, and have much shorter recharge cycles compared to other rechargeable technologies (NiCd and NiMH). NiCd (Nickel-Cadmium) are older technology rechargeable types. Most are rated around 700mAh but can go as high as 1100mAh these days. The have short shelf lives but most chargers are designed to handle this type. Properly cared for, they can be recharged 300 times or more. Improper care can reduce this to 100 or less. NiCds are affected by voltage depression phenomenon that happens when they are not fully discharged and recharged on a regular basis. NiCds are also toxic to the environment. NiMH (Nickel-Metal-Hydride) are newer technology rechargeable types. Most are rated around 1000mAh and go as high as 1500mAh these days. They have longer shelf lives and no voltage depression effect but are more costly, require a special charger and can only be recharged 200 or so times. No problems with environmental toxicity here. Lithium cells are one of the newest and most costly technologies. They have extremely long shelf lives, are very expensive but deliver more power than alkalines. They are also extraordinarily light.

5.5. Battery Chargers
• Designed to charge rechargeable batteries, they come in a billion different sizes and configurations. Most are designed to recharge NiCd cells. The basic difference is the number and type of cells that can be accommodated as well as the charging current used.

• •

• •

Keep in mind that the charging current is of greatest concern. Cells are usually designed to be recharged at only one or two rates (typically a slow charge/low current or a fast charge/high current). If the current is too high, it will generate excessive heat that will damage the cell contents thereby shortening its lifetime. Most of the cheaper chargers have either a constant charging period, which is only good for the cell when it nearly exhausted. Some chargers have no timer at all; they continually charge and it’s up to you to determine when the cell(s) should be removed. When thinking of NiMH cells, it’s VERY important to use the proper charger. A NiCd charger CAN’T be used, as it will overcharge the cells. A good NiMH charger will have a voltage detector to monitor the progress and the better units have temperature sensors to make sure the cell’s thermal limits are not exceeded. These features work on NiCd cells just as well. Other handy features to look for are “conditioning” and trickle charging. Conditioning is used to discharge the cell(s) before they are recharged thus helping to prevent the dreaded memory effect (voltage depression). Trickle charging simply supplies a very small current to the cell after it is done charging to help insure its charge does not degrade; you can leave the cells in for long periods of time without worrying about overcharging and the cells are fully charged when you need them. Expect to pay more for such chargers but when you compare it to the investment made in the batteries themselves, it easily pays for itself quickly; especially if you have several sets of such cells. Special alkalines available these days can be recharged but only by using the supplied/recommend charger, which use very small currents and/or special charging techniques. Do not try to use a NiCd or NiMH charge on these, to do so is just asking for a disaster! As usual, Radio Shack carries a large line of chargers.

5.6. AC Adapters
• The purpose of the AC adapter is to convert your household AC voltage/current to DC voltage/current usable by your receiver. Some receivers come with an AC adapter since they are designed to run off of 12 volts DC (which allows them to be used in the home or a vehicle). A must have if you use your handheld at home. It can also be used to power a base or mobile unit with a DC power jack. The best one to buy is the “universal” type because they are so flexible. They typically allow multiple voltage settings, multiple plug sizes and positive/negative tip voltage (be sure to set this properly or you could have a bad day). Most radios with a DC jack have a small wiring diagram printed nearby. It usually consists of a dot surrounded by a semi-circle. The dot represents the tip of the adapter. Follow the line from the dot to the + or - symbol and you’ll know what to set the tip polarity to! Be advised that some radios are not designed to use this form of external power if batteries are installed. READ THE OPERATING MANUAL BEFORE PROCEEDING! If your radio is capable of recharging the internal cells and you use alkalines, connecting up external power could lead to the batteries exploding! In some manufacturer literature, you’ll see references to a “mains charger” which should be taken to mean the AC adapter.

• • • •

5.7. DC Adapters
• • • • DC adapters are used to supply power to your radio while used in a vehicle of some sort, usually your car/truck/boat. Of course the radio in question must have been built with a DC jack or you have to have the skills necessary to add one. Most base/mobile units are designed to accept the vehicle voltage, which is usually in the 12 - 14 volt range. Handhelds usually range from 3 -9 volts so some form of voltage division is needed to reduce the vehicle supply accordingly. Base/mobile units usually need about 500 milliamps or more of power, while handhelds need 200 - 400 milliamps. Be sure the adapter you pick can source the current drain your radio will need. Many radio dealers sell universal adapters that are VERY handy. Not only do they have a switch that allows the output voltage to be selected, but also they come with an assortment of plugs to fit most radio DC jacks. These plugs can usually be inserted in two ways allowing the tip polarity to be selected as negative or positive (be sure to use the proper polarity or your radio could become a hi-tech paperweight). Most units have a fuse built into the adapter plug to prevent excessive current flow that could damage your car and/or radio. Some may even come with a spare fuse to replace on the fly. Be sure you investigate any problem before simply plugging in a new one. And it’s always good to carry spares. Just be sure to use ones with the same rating as recommended by the manufacturer.

5.8. Protective Cases
• • • • • • • Designed to protect a handheld from abuse encountered during its travels. Older manufacturer cases were made of hard, thick leather designed for maximum protection but an eyesore. Newer designs are made of softer, thinner leather and usually fit like a glove over the various contours. Most new OEM cases are made of cordura. If you travel with your handheld a lot, a case can protect your investment and assure a longer life if not a higher resale value. Be aware that some cases force the belt clip to be removed in order to be used. Some allow the stock clip to be uses as is. Others have a belt loop that is not as flexible but is more secure. Take into consideration whether or not you can use the radio while it’s in the case. Can you see the display? Can you use the keypad? How good does the audio sound? Can you get to the power jack without removing?

5.9. Surge Protectors
• Anyone familiar with computer and office equipment will tell you how important surge protectors are. Random spikes of energy in the power lines (caused by your power company working on the lines or repairing damage) can mean nasty results to your AC power supply that feeds your radio equipment as well! Good protectors are designed to filter the input to help maintain a semi-constant voltage and current supply while filtering out nasty power spikes that can be many thousands of volts!

• • • •

Not all surge protectors are created equally either! Don’t expect the $10 variety to match the protection of the $30 models. Be sure to read all the packages carefully as well as the fine print, and note the differences between them. Some models come with notification lights or alarm buzzers to alert you to a warning condition. Be sure to pick a model that will suit your needs and operating environment. And follow the guidelines given with the device purchased! Certain conditions can render the device’s protection nearly worthless so heed all warnings and cautions! If you find your equipment can’t power up one day, check to see if the protector has been “tripped” due to a spike. Try resetting the device’s circuit breaker and you should be back in business.

Chapter 6: Scanner Frequency Resources
The information in this chapter is divided into the following categories: 6.1. Websites Dedicated to Scanning 6.2. Online Frequency Listings & Databases 6.3. Print & CD-ROM Directories & Databases 6.4. Scanner Usenet Newsgroups 6.5. Email/Web-based Discussion Boards & Groups 6.6. Scanner Webrings 6.7. Frequency Crystal Dealers In the days before the World Wide Web, finding frequencies for any given area was a daunting task as frequency resources were few and far between. Now, finding local scanner frequencies can be as easy as 1-2-3, if you know where to look. This chapter will provide you with the resources to find scanner frequencies for any city in the U.S. It just takes a little patience and some web-surfing. There are a number of different resources and locations, both online and off, where scanner frequencies can be found. These resources include print, CD-ROM, and online frequency databases, Websites, discussion boards, and more. The following information will help eliminate the time needed to find frequencies for your area. After you collect your own list of frequencies for your area, it’s a good idea to create your own custom frequency database. You can create your database in Excel, Word, or whatever word processing or spreadsheet you use. Of course, if you would rather not waste your time searching for frequencies, we can do it for you. We charge a $12.95 service fee for our time and guarantee you verified current public safety frequencies for your area. Check our Frequency Search Service page for complete details on all the benefits included.

6.1. Websites Dedicated to Scanning
Scanning sites are great sources for finding scanning information for a particular area. There are hundreds of personal sites on the net that offer some king of scanning information. We personally reviewed a few hundred to find those that we felt were worthy of mentioning. For our complete list, visit our Sites Dedicated to Scanning page on our Website.

6.2. Online Frequency Listings & Databases
For our completed list including the latest updates and additions, visit our Scanner Frequency Resources page on our Website.

6.3. Print & CD-ROM Directories & Databases
Print and CD-ROM frequency directories and databases are great sources for area frequencies.

We currently do not have any reviews for this section as Radio Shack’s Police Call Frequency Guide is no longer published.

6.4. Scanner Usenet Newsgroups
Scanner related Usenet newsgroups are a great place to find frequencies for your area. With all three, you can post scanner related questions or ask for specific frequencies and usually someone will come along and answer them. Google’s Usenet Newsgroups Google’s online Usenet Groups are a great place to look for deals. Here are a few of those newsgroups: ! ! ! Internet Usenet Newsgroups ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! (General Scanning Newsgroup) (General Scanning Newsgroup) (UK Scanning newsgroup) (French Scanning newsgroup) (Dutch Scanning newsgroup) (Danish Scanning newsgroup) (German Scanning newsgroup) (Australian Scanning newsgroup)

6.5. Email & Web-based Discussion Boards & Groups
Discussion boards & groups are another good source to get frequencies for your area. For discussion groups, the trick here is finding the groups that focus on your particular area. Not as hard as it sounds. Simply go to Yahoo or MSN Groups’ homepages, then do a search for the nearest large metropolitan city near you. If you use a smaller city chances are you will not have much luck. Note: May require membership to participate. ! StrongSignals Message Boards Very active message board. Many categories to choose from. ! Northwest Radio Monitoring Very active message board. Several categories to choose from.

! Trunkradio Message Boards Very active message board. Many categories to choose from. ! Yahoo! Groups By far the best place to find scanner-related discussion groups. I myself subscribe to several scanner-related groups. ! A huge collection of radio-related discussion groups covering practically every conceivable ham radio and monitoring topic. ! Topica Email Discussion Lists

6.6. Scanner Webrings
Webrings are free communities of websites united common interest and organized into a circular "ring" of mutual links. Links on each page permit you to go from site to site and travel the entire webring, eventually returning to the page from which you started. Links also permit you to access the list of member sites and to join the webring. The trick here is finding webrings that focus on radio scanning. Not as hard as it sounds. Simply go to any of the Webring homepages listed below and do a search for “radio scanners” or “police scanners”. Webrings may organize webrings by category or subject, try looking for an “Amateur and Ham Radio” category. ! Webrings Homepage ! World of Webrings ! RingSurf ! CrickRock Webrings ! Webrings FAQ Page ! Radio Scanner Webring (150 sites) ! Online Radio Scanners (34 sites) ! Scanner Dweebs Webrings (75 sites)

6.7. Frequency Crystal Dealers
Got an old crystal controlled scanner? Need crystals? Then you’re in luck because the following dealers buy, sell, or trade scanner frequency crystals. Crystals run anywhere from $5.00 to 10.00, more if you need special cut crystals. ! G&G Communications Scanner Crystals ! Ken’s Electronics ! Scanner Crystals USA ! Crystal Swapping Board ! International Crystal Manufacturing Co, Inc.

Chapter 7: Frequencies to Get You Started
The frequencies provided below are used nationwide. Visit our “Scanner Frequency Resources” page for frequency resources listed by state. Nationwide Public Safety Frequencies 7.1. National Weather Service (NWS) 7.2. HEAR (Hospital Emergency Ambulance Radio) 7.3. Law Enforcement & Fire Mutual Aid Frequencies Nationwide Business Frequencies 7.4. Local Control, DOT/STAR, & Itinerant Business Radio 7.5. Video Production Radio Service Nationwide Entertainment Frequencies 7.6. Family Radio Service (FRS) 7.7. General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) 7.8. Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) 7.9. Citizen’s Band (CB Radio) 7.10. Television Audio

7.1. National Weather Service (NWS)
The National Weather Service continually broadcasts updated weather conditions, warnings, advisories, and forecasts 24-hours a day nationwide from NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) data center. NOAA WEATHER RADIO IS THE BEST MEANS TO RECEIVE WARNINGS FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE. These broadcasts can be received by NOAA Weather Radios sold in many departments stores and by all radio scanners. One or more of the following NWS channels can be heard in most areas of the U.S. Most new scanners come with these channels pre-programmed and accessed by a one-touch button labeled "WX". If your does not have a one-touch weather button, simply program these frequencies into your scanner to find the one for your area. Or, if your scanner has a search feature, search between 162.400 and 162.550.

Channel Ch.1 Ch.2 Ch.3 Ch.4 Ch.5 Ch.7

Frequency 162.5500 162.4000 162.4750 162.4250 162.4500 162.5000




7.2. HEAR (Hospital Emergency Ambulance Radio) Network
The HEAR network is a nationwide standard set of base and mobile frequencies for communication between hospitals, paramedics, and ambulances. These frequencies are primarily used for on-scene hospital-to-paramedic communications during victim stabilization and preparation for and during transport to hospital. 155.3400 Channel Med-1 Med-2 Med-3 Med-4 Med-5 Med-7 Med-7 Med-8 Med-9 Med-10 HEAR Network – Nationwide Communications Paramedic 468.0000 468.0250 468.0500 468.0750 468.1000 468.1250 468.1500 468.1750 467.9500 467.9750 Description Hospital-to-Paramedic Hospital-to-Paramedic Hospital-to-Paramedic Hospital-to-Paramedic Hospital-to-Paramedic Hospital-to-Paramedic Hospital-to-Paramedic Hospital-to-Paramedic Dispatch Ch.1 Dispatch Ch.2

Hospital 463.0000 463.0250 463.0500 463.0750 463.1000 463.1250 463.1500 463.1750 462.9500 462.9750

7.3. Law Enforcement & Fire Mutual Aid Frequencies
The FCC has designated two groups of frequencies for mutual aid use, one for law enforcement and one for fire. Mutual aid allows different agencies to communicate with each other on the same channel. If a law enforcement or fire agency requires assistance from neighboring law enforcement or fire agencies in handling a major incident, a mutual aid channel is used for communications. The nationwide law enforcement mutual aid system is called “NLEMARS” (pronounced “nellmars”), which stands for “Nationwide Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Radio System”, while the nationwide fire mutual aid system are called “FIREMARS”, which stands for "Fire Mutual Aid Radio System". In addition to the nationwide mutual aid frequencies, individual states may have their own “statewide” frequencies for use in law enforcement and fire mutual aid NALMARS (National Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Radio System) In some areas, the law enforcement mutual aid frequencies may be referred to as "I-Tac" or "ICall".

155.4750 866.0125 866.5125 867.0125 867.5125 868.0125

Nationwide Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Channel Nationwide Law Enforcement Calling Nationwide Law Enforcement Tactical 1 Nationwide Law Enforcement Tactical 2 Nationwide Law Enforcement Tactical 3 Nationwide Law Enforcement Tactical 4

FIREMARS (Fire Mutual Aid Radio System) 154.2800 154.2650 154.2950 45.8800 FIREMARS 1 FIREMARS 2 FIREMARS 3 FIREMARS

7.4. Local Control, DOT/STAR, & Itinerant Radio Frequencies
These frequencies are reserved for business use. Users are supposed to be licensed for use but often are not so you never know what you may hear on these frequencies. If you have room, program all these frequencies in a bank. Local Control These paired frequencies are primarily used for businesses operations in and around warehouse buildings, amusement parks, etc. Base 464.3250 464.3750 464.4250 464.4750 464.5250 464.5750 464.6250 464.6750 464.7250 464.7750 464.8250 464.8750 464.9250 464.9750 Mobile 469.3250 469.3750 469.4250 469.4750 469.5250 469.5750 469.6250 469.6750 469.7250 469.7750 469.8250 469.8750 469.9250 469.9750

DOT/STAR Frequencies These frequencies are used with low-power two-way radios. Users include mall/department store operations and more Older two-way radios were programmed with one frequency identified by a colored dot on the bottom of the radio, newer model two-way radios are preprogrammed with multiple frequencies or are direct-entry programmable.

Channel Blue Dot Red Dot Green Dot Purple Dot Brown Dot Yellow Dot White Dot Black Dot Orange Dot J Dot K Dot Silver Star Red Star Gold Star Blue Star

Frequency 154.5700 151.6250 154.6000 151.9550 464.5000 464.5500 462.5750 462.6250 462.6750 467.7620 467.8120 467.8500 467.9000 467.8750 467.9250

Itinerant Frequencies Itinerant frequencies are usually licensed for businesses that move from location to location such as carnival operators, construction companies, and other mobile businesses. 27.4900 27.5100 27.5300 35.0200 42.9800 43.0400 151.5050 158.4000 451.8000 456.8000 457.5255 457.5500 457.7575 457.6000 467.7500 467.7755 467.8000 467.8255 467.8500 467.8755 467.9000 467.9255

7.5. Video Production Radio Service
Reserved exclusively for movie production crews on the set. If you ever see a movie being filmed, you’ll find them communicating on these channels. Channel Frequency CH.01 152.8700 CH.02 152.9000 CH.03 152.9300 CH.04 152.9600 CH.05 152.9900 CH.07 153.0200 CH.07 173.3750 CH.08 173.2750 CH.09 173.2250 CH.10 173.3250

7.6. Family Radio Service (FRS)

The Family Radio Service is for personal use and no license is required. Located in the UHF band, FRS allows for short-range two-way communications with family and friends while on outings or in your neighborhood. Effective range is about one mile. This service is quickly becoming popular as chain stores push the sale of new small two-way “walkie-talkie” radios for use. To learn more about FRS click here. Channel CH.01 CH.02 CH.03 CH.04 CH.05 CH.06 CH.07 CH.08 CH.09 CH.10 CH.11 CH.12 CH.13 CH.14 Frequency 462.5620 462.5870 462.6120 462.6370 462.6620 462.6870 462.7120 467.5620 467.5870 467.6120 467.6370 467.6620 467.6870 467.7120

7.7. General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)
GMRS is for personal use and a license is required. Channel 7 is also used to help travelers and for emergency communications. Additionally, Channels 8 through 15 are shared with the Family Radio Service (FRS) above. To learn more about GMRS click here or here. Channel Ch.01 Ch.02 Ch.03 Ch.04 Ch.05 Ch.07 Ch.07 Ch.08 Ch.09 Ch.10 Ch.11 Ch.12 Ch.13 Frequency 462.5500 462.5750 462.6000 462.6250 462.6500 462.6750 462.7000 462.7250 462.5620 462.5870 462.6120 462.6370 462.6620

Ch.14 Ch.15

462.6870 462.7120

7.8. Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS)
MURS is a new citizen’s band. No license is required to use. For more information, visit the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB). Channel Ch.01 Ch.02 Ch.03 Ch.04 Ch.05 Frequency 151.8200 151.8800 151.9400 154.5700 154.6000

7.9. Citizen’s Band (CB Radio)
The Citizen’s Band Radio Service is for general use and no license is required. Located in the HF band, CB allows two-way communications for personal and business use. Effective range is between one and five miles. As a general rule, most activity will be found near freeways, as it is popular with truck drivers. In addition, Channel 9 is the official nationwide emergency channel. Keep in mind that not all scanners can pick up this frequency range. To learn more about CB Radio click here. Channel Frequency Ch.01 26.9650 Ch.02 26.9750 Ch.03 26.9850 Ch.04 27.0050 Ch.05 27.0150 Ch.07 27.0250 Ch.07 27.0350 Ch.08 27.0550 Ch.09* 27.0650 Ch.10 27.0750 Ch.11 27.0850 Ch.12 27.1050 Ch.13 27.1150 Ch.14 27.1250 Ch.15 27.1350 Ch.17 27.1550 Ch.17 27.1650 Ch.18 27.1750 Channel Ch.21 Ch.22 Ch.23 Ch.24 Ch.25 Ch.27 Ch.27 Ch.28 Ch.29 Ch.30 Ch.31 Ch.32 Ch.33 Ch.34 Ch.35 Ch.37 Ch.37 Ch.38 Frequency 27.2150 27.2250 27.2550 27.2350 27.2450 27.2650 27.2750 27.2850 27.2950 27.3050 27.3150 27.3250 27.3350 27.3450 27.3550 27.3750 27.3750 27.3850

Ch.19 Ch.20

27.1850 27.2050

Ch.39 Ch.40

27.3950 27.4050

* Official nationwide emergency channel.

7.10. Television Audio
The following frequencies are for the audio portion of broadcast television. Not all scanners are capable of picking these up. These frequencies are good for monitoring emergency broadcast advisories in your area after a major emergency or disaster. Channel Ch.02 Ch.03 Ch.04 Ch.05 Ch.07 Ch.07 Ch.08 Ch.09 Ch.10 Ch.11 Ch.12 Ch.13 Ch.14 Ch.15 Frequency 59.7500 75.7500 71.7500 81.7500 87.7500 179.7500 185.7500 191.7500 197.7500 203.7500 209.7500 215.7500 475.7500 481.7500

Chapter 8: Setting Up & Monitoring Tips and Tricks
8.1. Setting Up A Monitoring Area 8.2. Keys to Effective Monitoring 8.3. The Right Way to Monitor Your Scanner 8.4. Recommended Monitoring Accessories 8.5. Care & Maintenance for Your Scanner

8.1. Setting Up A Monitoring Area
The first step is finding a location to place you scanner while monitoring at home. If you have a base scanner, wherever you decide to plug it in, that is your listening post. The same goes for a handheld scanner. A simple countertop or end-table close to an outlet will do just fine for your scanner and your set to go. Your set-up can be as simple as a regular frame table, it’s all up to you. You can set up you scanner next to your computer or work area such as I have done below with both of my Bearcat 9000XLT base scanners, one on each side.

Once thing though, if you set it up next to your PC, you may receive interference from the monitor. If you do, move your scanner around or a little further from the monitor until the interference stops. If you really want to maximize your monitoring, check out “Recommended Monitoring Accessories” in this chapter.

8.2. Keys To Effective Monitoring
There are two types of scanner listeners, those who listen once in awhile and those who are always listening. Those who listen once in a while make up the majority of scanner listeners. These listeners only turn on their scanner when they hear a siren or see police activity or helicopter circling above. The second type of listener are those like myself who have their scanners on all the time or at least a good majority of the time. Now, I understand that there are many listeners who feel that having their scanner on the majority of the time is just not their “cup of tea” and that’s fine. As I previously stated, the majority of scanner listeners fall into that category. The key to effective monitoring lies in having your scanner on all or a majority of the time. The reasoning behind this is that you NEVER know when a critical event is going to occur, not even police and fire personnel know this. That’s one of the fascinating things about monitoring a scanner, incidents can and will occur anytime day or night often without warning. If you only turn your scanners on when you hear a siren or see police or fire activity, you will not only miss the initial dispatch of units, you will end up trying to piece together bits of information of what is happening. Trust me, I know, I’ve been there. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to sit there with your ear glued to your scanner either. Effective monitoring also entails knowing what to listen for. Here’s what I mean. I work from home so this will not apply to everyone, but it does apply when you are home or on the go if you have a handheld scanner. I have two base scanners (Uniden BC9000XLT’s) that are always on 24/7. I can be doing my daily routines and working and they are going off in the background. As soon as I hear a certain code (like “code-3” – roll with lights & siren, or “10-33” – emergency radio traffic) and WHAM! I’m on it, I’m tuned and listening for further information. After a while, it will become natural to you to “tune out” routine or minor calls as I have learned to do. Even if I miss the originating call, it would only take me a few minutes to piece together exactly what’s going on. Why, because I know what to listen for. It is a learning process that will come naturally through monitoring. The more you monitor, the easier it becomes In short, effective monitoring is: • • • • • • • Always being prepared for any event or situation The ability to program your scanner on the fly The ability to monitor multiple channels, bands, or agencies simultaneously. The ability to monitor an incident that spans several frequencies/channels. The ability to use multiple scanners simultaneously The ability to determine the current status of an incident The ability to travel anywhere in the U.S. and within minutes, be monitoring local activity in that area. (Provided that there are no barriers such as encrypted radio communications)

8.3. The Right Way to Monitor Your Scanner
Two common mistakes I’ve seen scanner listeners do is programming all their frequencies in one or two banks until they’re full and monitoring every frequency of every police and/or fire department they have programmed in their scanner all at once! This is the wrong way to monitor. Why? Well, if you’re monitoring everything at once, your scanner will stop on every transmission. By the time the scanner cycles back to your local area frequencies, you may have missed a critical call near you - this is especially true if you live in a populated area with lots of radio traffic continuously going on. The correct way is to monitor what is going on in the area you are in at the time. For example, if I’m at home, I want to know what is going on around me – not what’s going on a city or two away so I would only monitor my local police and fire department. If something major happens on the city’s borderline or a pursuit is coming into my area from a neighboring agency, I will hear about it over my local area’s dispatch. If I’m out traveling, then I monitor the area I am in at the time.

Programming Conventional Channels & Banks
Since channels can be locked out and channel banks turned on & off, the key is to program frequencies into channels banks that can be used to your advantage. Frequencies for a particular use or agency should be stored together in one bank. You could put the local police department in one bank and the fire department in another bank and so on. For example, let’s say you have a 200-channel scanner, most likely, this scanner would be divided into 10 banks containing 20-channels each. You could then program frequencies for a particular use in each bank such as I have done below: • • • • • • • • • • Bank 01 – Covina PD (My Local PD, 5 frequencies) Bank 02 – LA County Fire (My Local FD, 10+ frequencies) Bank 03 – West Covina PD/FD (Neighboring PD to the South, 4 frequencies) Bank 04 – Baldwin Park PD (Neighboring PD to the West, 2 frequencies) Bank 05 – Azusa PD/Glendora PD (Neighboring PD’s to the North, 4 frequencies) Bank 06 – Los Angeles County Sheriff (Neighboring PD to the East, 14 frequencies) Bank 07 – Local Highway Patrol Frequencies (2 stations, 4 frequencies) Bank 08 – LA City Fire (10+ frequencies) Bank 09 – News Media Frequencies (4 news channels, 10+ frequencies) Bank 10 – San Bernardino County’s Valley Trunk Radio System

Note: Bank 10 is a trunked radio system and would not apply to a conventional scanner. Turning Channel Banks On or Off You can turn banks on and off at the touch of a button. In the example above, if I only want to monitor my local police and fire department, I would leave banks 1 and 2 on and turn off banks 3 through 10. Now, let’s say I hear of a police chase going on in West Covina (neighboring city) over my local police channel. I could simply turn on bank 3 and manually select West Covina’s dispatch to listen in or simply turn banks 1 and 2 off and just monitor bank 3. Now,

let’s say I have to go to San Dimas on a business heron. I simply turn on bank 6 and I’m in on what’s going on in San Dimas. Same goes for traveling on the highway, I turn on bank 7 (Highway Patrol) and I’m good to go. Note: Keep in mind that some large agencies may require more than one bank. Channel “Locking Out” Feature Individual channels can be “locked-out” or omitted from the scan sequence using the “lock-out” feature. Locking out a channel is different than turning off a bank as turning off a bank causes all channels in that bank to be skipped during the scanning sequence. The locking out feature is useful when a channel is frequently transmitting and you don’t want the scanner to keep stopping on it. The channel lock out feature can also help you use empty channels. In the programming example above, you will notice that only a small number of available channels are being used in each bank. Here is where you can program frequencies that you do not regularly listen to and lock them out until you are ready to use them. For example, my local police department only has five frequencies that are allocated for use. That leaves fifteen empty channels. In those empty channels I have programmed all the frequencies for the Las Vegas Police Department (14 total) and locked them all out so that only my local police can be heard. When I travel to Las Vegas, I just lock my local PD’s five frequencies and unlock the Las Vegas PD frequencies and I’m ready to go. I’ve done the same with several of the other banks. Priority Channel Program each bank with the primary or dispatch channel first since most scanners usually reserve the first channel in each bank as a priority channel, except on high-end scanners where you can designate any channel as a priority channel. A priority channel is used to set the scanner to check the designated (or selected) channel every 3-seconds so that a transmission is not missed when the scanner is stopped on another channel.

Programming Trunking Talkgroups & Banks
In a trunk radio system (TRS), users share a group of frequencies. Users are assigned one or more numerical group id’s called “talkgroups.” Field radios are programmed to only pick-up transmissions for that group. In a large TRS, you may find that there are a large number of users including police, fire-EMS, public works, street maintenance, animal control, city engineers, etc., etc. Since each user could have one or more talkgroup ID’s, a TRS could have dozen’s and dozen’s of talkgroups ID depending on the number of users. Talkgroup ID Banks Trunking scanners allow you to program talkgroups ID’s into “talkgroup banks”, usually 5-10 banks, each with room for 5 talkgroup ID’s as shown below. This is VERY useful as it eliminate having to listen to every user and talkgroup on a TRS, especially if there are dozen’s of talkgroups.

The key to monitoring a trunk radio system is to strategically program talkgroups within talkgroup banks that can be used to your advantage. Talkgroups for a particular use or agency should be stored together in one talkgroup bank. Police in one, fire in another bank and so on. Talkgroups banks can then be turned on & off and/or individual talkgroups can be locked out. • Bank 10 – Trunk Radio System • Talkgroup ID Bank 1 (Police) • Talkgroup ID 1 (Dispatch) • Talkgroup ID 2 (Tactical) • Talkgroup ID 3 (Detectives) • Talkgroup ID 4 (SWAT) • Talkgroup ID 5 () Talkgroup ID Bank 2 (Fire) • Talkgroup ID 1 (Dispatch) • Talkgroup ID 2 (Response) • Talkgroup ID 3 (Fireground) • Talkgroup ID 4 (Rescue) • Talkgroup ID 5 Talkgroup Bank 3 Talkgroup Bank 4 Talkgroup Bank 5

• • •

In the example above, if you just wanted to monitor police you, you would turn of Talkgroup bank 2 and any other banks you have programmed and just have the scanner monitor bank one. Note: Some trunking scanners (like my Pro-95) may have “sub-bank” within each main bank allowing for more talkgroup storage such as shown below: • Talkgroup ID Bank 1 • Talkgroup ID Sub-bank 1 • Talkgroup ID 1 • Talkgroup ID 2 • Talkgroup ID 3 • Talkgroup ID 4 • Talkgroup ID 5 • Talkgroup ID Sub-bank 2 • Talkgroup ID 1 • Talkgroup ID 2 • Talkgroup ID 3 • Talkgroup ID 4 • Talkgroup ID 5 • Talkgroup ID Sub-bank 3 • Talkgroup ID Sub-bank 4 • Talkgroup ID Sub-bank 5 Talkgroup ID Bank 2

• • •

Talkgroup ID Bank 3 Talkgroup ID Bank 4 Talkgroup ID Bank 5

8.4. Recommended Monitoring Accessories
In my years of scanning I have learned that there are a few items to have close by at all times. You may already have some of the items listed below. If you don’t, you can get the items one at a time or skip some, it’s up to you. Here are the recommended items you should have:

1. Notepad & Pen
This one is a no-brainer. There will be times when you need to quickly jot something down and having a pen and pad within reach makes it that much easier.

2. Local Area Map (Map Books or Software)
This is a must have item that comes in handy for looking-up incident locations or following police pursuits. There are three options to choose from, printed, software, and online maps each with it’s own pros and cons. Having both is the way to go. Map Books Map books come in state and regional editions, usually by county area. They cost between $10-$32 and can usually be found at most supermarkets or stores like Walmart, Save-on, RiteAid, etc. Thomas Guides are the best, but unfortunately they only cover certain parts of the U.S. PC Software For PC Map software. I recommend Microsoft Streets & Trips (costs around $40 new, but can be found on ebay for less). Streets & Trips provides you with detailed street maps for the entire U.S. and general maps for the rest of the world. It’s easy to use and comes with lots of great features including full zoom to street level.

Map Books and PC Software Maps can be purchased online at the following location: • • • • Thomas Bros. Maps - Rand McNally - DeLorme Maps - Microsoft Streets & Trips -

Using Online Maps If you don’t want to spend money on a map book or software, your can view maps online using the resources below. The only thing is that you limited to what you can do. • • • Google Maps - Yahoo! Maps - Map Quest -

3. Regional Area Wall Map
A regional area wall map is another must have item that will come in handy time and time again. Wall maps are usually 26x39 in size and contain detailed street information for a given area. This makes a wall map an ideal monitoring accessory to have close by for “at a glance” pin-pointing locations of freeway related incidents and mapping police pursuits anywhere within your regional area as you listen to the “play-by-play” broadcast. Wall maps cost between $3.00 to $5.00 and can be purchased at most supermarkets and stores like Walmart, Save-on, Rite-Aid, etc. You can also find them at gas stations and convenience stores like 7-11.

Now, if you want you can take it a step further by customizing it.

Creating A Customized “At A Glance” Wall Map The part will show you how to turn your wall map into a one-of-a-king “at-a-glance” custom map. You will have to a little research, to gather some information, but it will prove well worth it in the long run. Customizing your wall map involves two steps; gathering some information, then placing the information onto the map. When completed, you will have a custom map that will become a valuable tool that will help you to learn and memorize your local and surrounding fire station locations by number so that when fire is dispatched on a call you’ll know exactly who’s area it’s in. Step 1 – Gathering Information You will need to find out the location of your local police department and the locations of all fire stations in your city. The folding map you purchase may already contain police and fire station locations indicated by the icons shown below

If the map does not contain them, you will have to gather the information. Every fire station has an identifying number, such as station #1 or Engine 1, etc. When a call is dispatched, those identifying numbers are used. You will also need to find out the fire station numbering assignments for your area. You should be able to find the above information online as most cities have websites listing this information. You can also search Google for the name of your police and fire department to find out if they have their own website. Once you get to their website, browse around for the information and print it out. For example, the city where I live contracts with the Los Angeles County Fire Department for fire services. On their website there is a link called “Hometown Fire Stations” and that link takes you to a page listing all fire stations locations and numbering assignments within the county. If you don’t know who handles police and fire service in your area, check your local white pages or call your local city hall and ask. Step Two: Customizing Your Wall Map Now it’s time to customize your wall map with the information above that you have gathered. You will need a fine tip pen, a fluorescent pink highlighter (or other color that stands out against the maps colors), and two fine point sharpie markers (one red and one black). Here’s how to customize you map:

Cropping the Map – as previously mentioned, wall maps usually come in 26x39 in size, this is probably too large and you will want to crop it down a bit. I cropped mine down to 21x21 by simply folding and taping the sides back leaving my local area and all surrounding areas showing. You can also just cut the side off if you prefer. At 21x21, it covers 14 square miles. You can crop it further if you need to, its up to you.

Marking Police Station Location – using a blue sharpie marker, place a noticeable sized dot where your police station is located. You may also do this with all other neighboring police stations located within the map area if you wish. Next, take the fine tip pen and write “PD” for police, “SO” for Sheriff, and “HP” for Highway Patrol next to the blue dot as shown below.

Marking Fire Station Locations - using a red sharpie marker, place a noticeable sized dot where all fire stations are located within the map area. (You may also do this with all other neighboring city fire stations located within the map area if you wish). Next, take the fine tip pen and write all the fire station numbers next to the red dots according to location as shown below.

Marking Freeway/Highway Access Points – using the fluorescent pink highlighter, make a ¾” long mark on all streets that cross the freeway where there is an on-ramp and offramp as shown below.

When completed, you map will look something like this:

4.) Patrol Unit Numbering Assignments:
Police patrol areas are usually divided into separate zones called a “beat”. Each beat is assigned a beat number as show below. Patrol units assigned to a patrol beat and numbered after their assignment number: 1+, 2+, 3+, 4+, etc. For example, Unit 12 would be the second unit assigned to beat 1, Unit 33 would be the third unit assigned to beat 3 and so on.

Knowing beat assignment or unit numbering schemes can help you quickly determine what general area an incident is occurring at without having to look at a map. You may be able to find the information online as most police departments have websites, but many do not list beat assignments. . If you don’t find this information listed, you will have to learn this information through regular monitoring and keeping notes on what areas units patrol.

5. Street Block Number List
A street block number list is excellent as an easy reference for learning street block numbers. Every city has a central starting point for block numbers, either north & south or east & west or both. Block numbers usually start at 100 North & 100 South and increase in opposite directions as you move away from the starting point. East & West may also start at central point and increase in opposite directions. If not, then usually the numbers begin at the West End of the city limits and increase until the East End of the city limits.

You can find street block numbers on the wall map, in the map book, or software. Look for the starting points as described above. Once your find the starting point, listing the major streets as the block numbers increase.

I have my streets listed at 100, 500, 700, 1000, 1200 in opposite directions up to the city limits as shown below. I then made a print out and put it up next to the map.

When you hear a dispatched call to an unfamiliar street, you will know more or less in what general area it is located in just by the address given in the call. For example, if I hear a call in the 600 block North Whatever St. and I don’t recognize the street name, I know that is somewhere just north of San Bernardino Ave. That is better than nothing.

6. Radio Earphone
Perfect for private listening. With the scanner on your belt, feed the cord up your back. From there it’s a short jump to your ear making it very hard to detect. Some are better designed and contoured to fit the ear, which helps with comfort during extended listening sessions. I use mine all the time, an awesome accessory to have. Check out these:

7. Custom Frequency Database
After you’ve programmed your scanner, make a list of all the channels you have programmed into your scanner and print it out. Then just keep this list close for easy reference. Get yourself a 3-ring binder so that you can create your own frequency database. As you accumulate frequencies you can print them out and add them to your binder.

8.5. Care & Maintenance for Your Scanner
Care and maintenance is key in extending the life of your scanner. Here are some tips to help extend the life of your scanner • Never leave your scanner in sunlight as the heat generated can damage internal components and circuitry as well as batteries. High temperatures can also distort and even melt the outer case. Try not to get your scanner wet. If this happens, wipe the outside immediately and place the scanner in front of a fan (facing the speaker opening) to help speed dry any internal moisture.

Occasionally wipe your scanner’s exterior case with a mildly damp cloth to avoid dust and dirt build-up. DO NOT use household detergents, cleaners, or solvents to clean the outside your scanner. A mildly damp cloth will do the job just fine. Try and avoid dropping your scanner as this can cause internal and external damage. If you have a hand held scanner, there is no way to avoid accidentally dropping it. It WILL eventually take a fall. The best you can do is using extra caution. Do not store your scanner in dusty or dirty areas. Internal accumulation of dust and dirt particles can affect performance and accelerate wear and tear. If repairs are needed, don’t try to do the repairs yourself unless you know exactly what you are doing. Attempting a self-repair Job could damage it even more. In the resource index under Scanner Repair or manufacturers you will find a list of reliable service technician that specialize in scanner repair. Performing self-repairs will also void any warranty you may have.

• •

Chapter 9: Monitoring Police & Fire Radio
9.1. Monitoring Police Radio Communications 9.2. Monitoring Fire Radio Communications 9.3. Police & Fire Radio Codes & Signals 9.4. Police & Fire Radio Terms, Slang, & Jargon 9.5. What You Can Expect to Hear 9.6. Your Scanner & Emergency Preparedness To fully enjoy the hobby of scanning, you should have a basic understanding of how a police department operates and communicates. This chapter provides you with the information you need to know to be able to follow and understand police and fire radio communications.

9.1. Monitoring Police Radio Communications
The number of channels/talkgroups used by a police department depends on the size of the department and the operations performed by the department. A large department may have several sub-stations or precincts requiring many channels/talkgroups while a smaller department with one station will require just a few channels.

Radio Communication Channels
Each of the operations below usually has one or more channels/talkgroups for use. In smaller departments, some functions may be combined into one unit or handled by another law enforcement agency altogether. • • • • • • • • • • • Dispatch & Street Patrol Tactical (unit to unit or for localized incidents within a small area) Mutual Aid/Intersystem Detectives/Investigators SWAT & K-9 Arson/Explosives Vice/Narcotics Air Patrol Operations Administrative Operations Special Events Telephone Patch

Radio Communications Overview
The following provides an overview of the radio communications surrounding a call for service and how the call is handled as well as how channels/talkgroups are used in those communications 1. 911 Operations Center

First, a call is received by the 911 communications center. The 911 operator gathers pertinent information, allocates available units for response, and dispatches those units. The call center may be in a central location serving multiple agencies or it may be located in a single police station. (See: Los Angeles Police Department’s Dispatch Center) 2. Dispatch Communications The initial dispatching of the first units. This take place over the “primary’ or dispatch channel. Units are given information on the type of call, the location, a call incident number and any other pertinent information such as suspect descriptions, vehicles used, last seen directions, etc. and response levels. Response levels include; “Code-2” (emergency, priority response) and “Code-3” (emergency, respond with lights and siren). Once a unit or units are assigned, any further communications regarding the call are references by the call incident number. For example, if call could have a reference number of “214,” a unit would refer to the call as “tag 214”. Call reference numbers start at “0” and run from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Depending on how busy the department is, there could be several hundred “tags’ by the days end. This dispatch channel usually has two frequencies, one for output and one for input. The input is for mobile units to transmit to the dispatcher and the output is for dispatch to all units. You will want to monitor the output channel to hear both dispatch and mobile units. 3. Car-to-Car Communications Units responding to the incident coordinate their response over a ”car-to-car” channel. Once on-scene, the handling unit gathers preliminary information about the call and relays that information to the dispatcher for a crime broadcast to all other units. The dispatcher and the station watch commanders are always monitoring this channel for routine and emergency radio traffic. 4. Tactical Communications If the incident develops into a crime scene or a parameter containment (“neighborhood lockdown”) to search for a suspect, a command post will be established and a tactical frequency will be assigned. All units on the scene and those responding will communicate over this frequency for the duration of the incident. In small department, tactical on-scene communications may take place over the car-to-car channel. 5. Mutual Aid Communications If an incident requires assistance from neighboring law enforcement agencies, a “mutual aid” channel is used for communications. Mutual Aid allows different agencies to communicate with each other on the same channel. There are several nationwide law enforcement mutual aid channels available for use called “NLEMARS” (pronounced “nellmars”), which stands for “Nationwide Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Radio System”. In addition, all states have their own “statewide” law enforcement mutual aid channels. See Chapter 7 for a listing of Nationwide Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Frequencies.

Emergency Radio Traffic
“10-33” is the nationwide code for “Emergency Traffic, Clear the Air”. It means that an officer is in immediate danger and needs assistance. So, when you hear dispatcher say “10-33 Go”, that means that the units requesting the 10-33 is clear to broadcast on the air. Some police agencies use a “channel marker”, and audible tone, that lets all other units know that the channel is in emergency use. Here are some examples of emergency traffic: • • • • • • • • • Vehicle pursuits Foot Pursuits Felony vehicle stops Officer involved in a fight Officer involved in a shooting Officer Down Crime in progress Unit requesting urgent back up Etc, etc…

Hear actual incident calls from high-speed vehicles to major structure fires and more on our Recorded Police Scanner Audio Page.

9.2. Monitoring Fire Radio Communications
Like a police department, the number of channels/talkgroups used by a fire department depends on the size of the department and the operations performed by the department. A large department may have dozens of fire stations or “firehouses” divided into regional areas while a smaller department will have one to five stations for the entire area of coverage.

Fire Communication Channels
Each of the operations below usually has one or more channels/talkgroups for use. In smaller departments, some functions may be combined into one unit or handled by fire department agency altogether. • • • • • • • • • Dispatch Response Fireground Tactical (unit to unit or for localized incidents within a small area) Paramedic/Ambulance Operations Hospital to Ambulance Command Air Operations/Air Rescue Transport Mutual Aid Telephone Patch

Fire Radio Communications Overview
The following provides a general overview of the radio communications surrounding a call for service and how the call is handled as well as how channels/talkgroups are used in those communications 1. 911 Operations A call comes in to the 911 communications center and is handled by a 911 operator. The operator gathers pertinent information, allocates available apparatus for response, and dispatches those units. The call center may be in a central location serving multiple agencies or it may be located in a single fire station. (see: photo of Los Angeles County Fire 911/Dispatch Center) 2. Dispatch Communications The initial dispatching of the Apparatus takes place over the “primary’ or dispatch channel/talkgroup. Apparatus are given the type of call, the location, and any other pertinent information such as the “on-scene” fireground tactical channel to be used. Apparatus are assigned and dispatched according to closest proximity with the apparatus whose coverage area the response is in having priority. If the area apparatus is unavailable due to another call, the next closest apparatus is assigned and dispatched. 3. Response Communication The first responding apparatus use this channel to coordinate their response with dispatch. Upon arrival, the first apparatus to arrive gives dispatch an on-scene report of what they have. If it is a working fire or major rescue, additional units are requested and “Incident Command”, or “IC” for short, is established. Incident Command is the operational command on the scene of a major incident. Incident command is established by the handling engine company upon arrival by giving the naming the IC. Once incident command has been established, all further communications regarding that incident will be referred to by the IC name. For example, if a the location of a house fire was on a street called Amar Rd, the handling engine company would say “engine 123 on scene, heavy flames showing, assuming “Amar IC”. From that point on, all communications regarding that incident will be referred to as “Amar IC” until the conclusion of that incident. The establishment of an operational command upon arrival at a major incident is essential for coordinating resources not only on the scene, but also from additional responding apparatus including resources from outside fire agencies if necessary. 4. Fireground Tactical Communications Fireground tactical is used for all on-scene communications for a major incident. Major incidents include, but are not limited to brush fires, structure fires, major accidents, etc. This channel is also used for communications between Air Rescue Transport personnel and ground units securing the “L-Z” (landing zone).

Depending on the size of the department, there may be several channels/talkgroups designated for fireground communications for handling simultaneous incidents. In addition, these channels may be in simplex mode meaning that you would have to be in close proximity to the apparatus to hear those communications. 5. Mutual Aid Communications If an incident requires assistance from neighboring fire departments, a “mutual aid” channel/talkgroup is used for fireground communications. Mutual Aid allows different agencies to communicate with each other on the same channel. There are several nationwide fire mutual aid channels available for use called “FIREMARS”, which stands for “Fire Mutual Aid Radio System”. In addition, all states have their own “statewide” law enforcement mutual aid channels for use. See Chapter 7 for a listing of Nationwide Fire Mutual Aid Frequencies. 6. Paramedic-Ambulance-Hospital Communications A special groups of channels called “MED” channels are designated for nationwide communications between doctors at a local hospital and paramedics on the scene of an incident or during patient transport Paramedics relay patient information and dispense medications under a doctor’s authority. These “MED” channels are collectively know as HEAR (Hospital Emergency Ambulance Radio). Each channel has a pair of frequencies that are spaced exactly 5 MHz apart, one for the base (hospital) and one for mobiles (paramedics/ambulance). See Chapter 7 for a complete list of all nationwide “MED” frequencies). Hear actual incident calls from major structure fires to high-speed vehicles pursuits and more on our Recorded Police Scanner Audio Page.

9.3. Police & Fire Radio Codes & Signals
Monitoring police and fire communications brings you an entirely different form of language known as radio codes. Law enforcement and fire agencies everywhere use radio codes to simplify communications, avoid miscommunication, and limit the use of valuable airtime. To follow police and fire radio communications and understand what is being said, you must have a basic understanding of how radio codes work. Radio Codes work by incorporating the use single number and/or characters or a combination of numbers and/or characters to represent words, phrases and meanings. For example, the following response is a common format used in dispatching nationwide by the Los Angeles County Sheriff, California:

“Attention, 143Adam, 144Boy, 245, 902R, 417 used, NFD, respond code3” Huh? What? Okay, let me translate that for you: (143Adam) & (144Boy) are separate police units assigned to respond to an assault with a deadly weapon call (245) with fire dept en-route (902R) where the weapon used was a gun (417), there is no further description (NFD) and both units are authorized to respond with their lights and sirens activated (Code-3). Now you can begin to see the benefits of using radio codes. State provisional codes such as penal (criminal), vehicle, and heath & safety are often used as radio codes. It is important to understand that although the radio code-numbering scheme used is the same nationwide, code definitions are NOT and vary from state-to-state and agency-to-agency. See the “Radio Codes & Signals” bonus guide for detailed examples of usage and a list of radio codes including information on where to get radio codes for your area.

9.4. Police & Fire Radio Terms, Slang, & Jargon
In additional to radio codes, police and fire communications involves the use of slang, jargon, acronyms, abbreviations, street terms, radio terms, narcotic terms, medical terms, and some technical terms. Below is a list of commonly used terms that you should know as you will frequently hear them over the air.

Police Radio Definitions
ADW – acronym for ‘Assault with a Deadly Weapon’ (a felony). APB – acronym for ‘All Points Bulletin’, a nationwide law enforcement teletype advising of a wanted suspect. (see: ‘BOLO’). Containment – perimeter set up around an area where an outstanding suspect or suspects were last seen, usually after a termination of a pursuit where a suspect(s) flee on foot. Patrol units and officers quickly set up a containment by strategically place themselves to have a clear view up and down streets in case the suspect(s) try to escape from the containment. Once the containment is set up, usually within minutes, a organized ,systematic search can be conducted. In the meantime, pedestrians and vehicles are prevented from entering the area until a search has been completed. CP – acronym for “Command Post”, an area set-up as a staging point for coordination during a suspect search or other significant event. Crime Broadcast – a broadcast alert notice to all area patrol units advising that a crime was just committed. The broadcast contains important information such as type of crime, time

occurred, location, suspect descriptions, last seen direction and description of vehicle, if available. Crime Scene – an area where a serious crime has occurred. A crime scene is often cordoned off by yellow or red barrier tape to prevent pedestrian and vehicle traffic from entering the scene and contaminating evidence. The scene remains restricted until a crime scene investigation can be completed. Crime Tape – refers to a yellow ribbon with the words “Police Line – Do Not Cross” (or similar) in black printed on it. Crime tape is used to cordon off a crime scene to prevent evidence from being contaminated. Also referred to as “homicide tape” or “barrier tape”. ETOH – abbreviation for ‘Ethyl Alcohol’, refers to someone being drunk. Ex: “the subject is ET-O-H”. FI – acronym for 'Field Interview/Investigation', the gathering of information on a subject (usually gang members) such as general description, identifying marks, tattoos, nicknames, etc. This information is then placed in a database and can then be used later to identify persons involved in subsequent crimes where there is a match in the description. Ex: “just ‘F-I’ him and let him go”. FLIR (pronounced “flur”) – acronym for ‘Forward Looking Infrared’, a heat detecting device used by law enforcement and fire helicopters to search out suspects in darkness or spot flames in dense smoke. FTA – acronym for ‘Failure To Appear’, a person who has failed to appear in court resulting in an arrest warrant being issued. See: ‘Warrant’. GOA – acronym for ‘Gone On Arrival’, usually means that by the time officers got to the scene, the disturbing parties where already gone. Ex: “the disturbing parties are GOA”. (same as ‘GPA’. GSV – acronym for ‘Gunshot Victim’. Ex: “we have one G-S-V down at location, respond fire”. HBD – acronym for ‘Has Been Drinking’. Ex: “the parties involved in the dispute are both ‘H-BD’ ”. Hit – (1) an information match for wanted subject. An officer will usually detain a subject until the hit is verified with the originating agency where the warrant was issued. Dispatchers usually advise officers of a possible hit so they can be on guard for their own safety. Ex: “we might have a hit on the subject” or "subject has a $20,000 ‘hit’ for a previous burglary". (2) ge: street slang for a contract murder. (3) ge: to strike with force. LEERN (pronounced “learn”) – acronym for 'Law Enforcement Emergency Radio Network’, a nationwide mutual aid radio system for law enforcement communications. NCIC – acronym for 'National Crime Information Center', a Federal law enforcement database in Washington D.C. that is linked to all states via teletype.

NFD – acronym for 'No Further Details'. Ex: “the suspect was a male, NFD” NLETS – acronym for Nationwide Law Enforcement Teletype System. Each state has one entry point to LETS, usually in the state capital. All messages are routed through a network hub in Phoenix, Arizona. Delivery is nearly instantaneous most of the time. Commonly pronounced EN-lets. PIT – acronym for 'Pursuit Intervention Technique’, used to cause a suspect’s vehicle to spin out of control with the goal of terminating the pursuit.

Fire Radio Definitions
ALS - acronym for ‘Advanced Life Support’. ALS includes cardiac monitoring, intravenous fluid and drug administration, advanced airway procedures and other special skills. BLS - fd: acronym for ‘Basic Life Support’, preliminary care such as splinting, bandaging and so on. BLS also includes ‘CPR’ (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation). Call Firefighter - a paid or volunteer part-time firefighter that trains for and responds as needed to all type of emergencies, usually alerted by pager or community siren. Defensive Mode - a firefighting operational tactic that indicates an offensive fire attack strategy has been abandoned for reasons of firefighter safety and all personnel withdraw from the structure and maintain a safe perimeter. In defensive mode, the first priority is to protect surrounding structures, the second, to knock down the main body of the fire. (also see: ‘Structure Protection’, ‘Master Streams’). Dozer Strike Team - a dozer strike team consists of two dozers, a dozer tender, and a leader (a dozer tender carries extra supplies such as oil, tools, etc.). EMS - acronym for ‘Emergency Medical Service’, a branch of medicine that is performed in the field by Paramedics, Emergency Medical Technicians , and Certified First Responders. EMT - acronym for ‘Emergency Medical Technician’, an emergency responder trained to provide emergency medical services (EMS) to the critically ill and injured including advanced first aid skills plus use of specialized ambulance equipment and administration of oxygen. (also see: Paramedic). Engine Strike Team - An engine strike team consists of five fire engines of the same type and a lead vehicle. There are three or four personnel on each engine and one or two personnel in the lead vehicle. The strike team leader is usually a captain or a battalion chief. Fire Attack - an offensive operation directed at extinguishing a working fire. Hazmat - acronym for ‘Hazardous Materials’, an incident that involves a chemical spill/emergency or toxic gas release, a ‘Hazmat’ incident, where the ability to handle exceeds the capability of the first responding units. Most fire departments have some type of Hazmat response team that is specially trained to handle chemical accidents. Once on scene, they evaluate the situation and take any action necessary. Depending on the volatility of the spill

and/or immediate threat to public safety, action taken can range from a minor clean-up to implementing a ‘Shelter-in-Place’ order where you are advised to remain indoors for your safety or evacuating the affected area altogether. HEAR - acronym for ‘Hospital Emergency Ambulance Radio’, a nationwide set of radio frequencies designated for ambulance to hospital communications. HEAR frequencies are used by ambulance and paramedic crews to communicate patient status to the receiving hospital during transport. The primary statewide HEAR frequency is 155.3400 MHz, with 155.1750 as a back-up. 155.4000 is designated as a secondary HEAR channel. (also see: ‘Med Channels’, ‘RACES’, ‘REACT’). Heavy Rescue - fire truck equipped with specialized rescue equipment such as ‘Jaws of Life’, generator, winch hoist and other special tools to help get people out of car wrecks and other places where they might be trapped. (also see: ‘Jaws’) Jaws/Jaws of Life - a Hydraulic or electric powered tool used by fire-rescue personnel to free victims trapped in car accident wreckage. The tool has two parts, a cutter and spreader (photo) and can quickly be assembled right on the scene. The tool earned the name Jaws of Life because the tool reduced the time to extricate a victim from a car crash, literally snatching them from the 'jaws of death'. (also see: ‘Extricate’, ‘HurstJaws Website’). knockdown - refers to the extinguishing of a active or working structure fire. Ex: “Battalion 4 advising we have knockdown at this time”. Loom-up - column of smoke that indicates a working brush, structure, or other active fire. (same as ‘header’). Move Up – also called move-up or standby in some areas, move-up refers to the temporary relocating of fire apparatus from one or more stations to a station where that station’s apparatus is busy working a major fire. The movement of apparatus between fire stations provides for better coverage during a major fire. Fill-ins are used to cover for personnel and/or apparatus unavailable for a few hours due to a special event such as parades or scheduled drill. Overhaul – the operations that take place after a fire has been completely extinguished. It includes pulling down ceilings and cutting holes in walls to make sure that fire is not smoldering within. It also involves removal of contents from the structure to ensure that they are also smoldering. A related operation is a “Salvage Operation”. Salvage involves removing or covering furniture and other property while the fire is in progress to prevent smoke and water damage to those items. Still Alarm – a fire-rescue response to an incident that occurs without dispatching such as when someone comes in to the fire station or when fire-rescue personal come upon an incident while responding to another dispatched call. Structure Protection – a defensive firefighting mode used to protect structures surrounding another burning structure or building when that structure or building is too heavily involved in fire to be saved or entry into the structure for interior firefighting is too dangerous. Structure

protection involves the focusing of all water streams onto the surrounding structures to prevent the fire from spreading from the main building.

9.5. What You Can Expect to Hear
What can you expect to hear? In short, everything! In all my years of monitoring, I’ve heard everything you could possible imagine and things you couldn’t imagine. Everything from a routine calls like a vehicle blocking a driveway to live-saving rescues. It basically boils down to two types of events; small scale and large scale. Hear actual incident calls on our Recorded Police Scanner Audio Page.

Small Scale Events
Small scale events are events that affect a localized area. These types of events occur thousands of times a day across America and include, but are not limited to; Dangerous Police Activity such as: • • • • • • • • • • High-Speed Vehicle Pursuits Suspect Foot Pursuits Armed Robberies Assaults with Weapons Neighborhood lock-downs for suspect containment searches Barricaded suspect situations Rampaging suspects Gang-Violence Shooting Victims and much more!

Dangerous Fire-Rescue Activity such as: • • • • • • Emergency Rescue Operations Residential Structure Fires Large commercial building fires Out of Control Brush Fires Major Traffic Accidents and much more!

Low-Impact Events such as: • • • • Power Outages Rolling Blackouts Dangerous Roadway Debris And more!

Then there are the “Large-scale Events”…

Large Scale Events
Large scale events are events that do not occur often, but when they do, they have the potential to produce heavy damage and casualties. These events include, but are not limited to; Natural Disasters • • • • • • • • • • Earthquakes Wildfires Tornadoes Hurricanes Severe Thunderstorms Flash Floods Tsunamis Destructive Landslides Winter Storms/Blizzard Conditions and even Avalanches

Major Incidents • • • • • Toxic Chemical Spills/Emergencies Natural Gas Main Ruptures/Explosions Air Disasters Railroad Derailments And much more!

Terrorist Attacks • • • • Attacks using explosives Chemical & Biological Weapons Radiological "Dirty Bombs" and even the possibility of a “low-yield” nuclear device

As you can see, anything can occur at anytime with little or no warning which brings me to the next topic… Emergency Preparedness.

9.6. Your Scanner & Emergency Preparedness
For many scanner enthusiasts like myself, a police scanner is one of the most valuable tools we can have nearby when disaster strikes! Why? Because critical and timely information is key in the aftermath of any major emergency, disaster, or other "large-scale" event. From personal experience, the only sure way to get timely up-to-date and critical information after a disaster is by monitoring a police scanner. Television and radio broadcast information is not a viable option as information via those sources is often delayed, sketchy, or unconfirmed at best. This section will help you prepare for major emergencies by providing information on what you need to know including how to get your police scanner ready for disaster! Beyond Emergency Disasters Besides emergency disasters, a police scanner can be a valuable source of information during other life-threatening situations. How? Well, everyday in neighborhoods across America, police and fire personnel respond to tens- of-thousands of calls for assistance. The majority of those calls for service are minor in nature, meaning there is no immediate danger to the public at large. On the flip side, there are those calls that do pose a serious threat to life and/or property. These "small-scale events" range anywhere from power outages to dangerous police situations including high-speed pursuits, suspect foot chases, neighborhood lock-downs for an outstanding suspect search ("suspect containments"), barricaded suspects, hostage situations, or even worse, an armed suspect on a deadly rampage. The Bottom Line: Information is key! By monitoring emergency radio communications in your local area, you will get important information in "real-time" as events unfold around you. Armed with this information, you can take any necessary action to protect you and your family and even avoid unseen dangers before it’s too late! Over the years, there have been many situations where my police scanner has been without a doubt, my most valuable possession - even saving a life or two along the way. We have put together a comprehensive guide to emergency preparedness that contains everything you need to know to be ready when disaster strike! Click here to go to our Emergency Preparedness Information Page

About the Author
Ruben Flores is the author of the “Inside the World of Police Scanners” and Webmaster of Ruben is a 24-year scanning veteran with experience in programming, using, and maintaining various models of police radio scanners for both personal enjoyment, and in later years, volunteer work for the Los Angeles County Fire Department and employment as a traffic reporter covering the Greater Los Angeles Region. Ruben is a self-taught Website designer/operator and oversees all operations on Other education and experience include training in Internet marketing & consulting and a diploma in computer operations. Today Ruben resides in the Eastern Los Angeles County area (home of high-speed pursuits) of Sunny Southern California. Contact Information: Ruben Flores