How to Find Local Digital Police Scanner Frequencies

flashers of police car

The best police scanners will allow you to pick up digital police scanner frequencies so you can listen in on local emergency services communications, much like a radio will allow you to tune into different stations by changing the dial. When you switch a channel on  the radio it’s locking onto one signal, while picking up another.

A police scanner works in the same manner, however the frequency you’ll use to for emergency services will vary from county to county and state to state. Learning how to use your scanner more efficiently will involve figuring out which channels to tune into, categorizing them in different banks on your scanner for easier access, and essentially keeping track of important information based on channel type. As an example, you can store  police channel frequencies in one bank, weather reports in another, and ambulance dispatch in another. Again,  choosing the right frequencies will depend on where you are located. I’ll walk you through how these frequencies work and include a list of some of the most common universal frequencies for weather reports and road conditions.

Digital police scanner frequencies will vary based on the city, county, or state you live in. Finding this information can be simple if you don’t have a scanner that comes equipped with the ZIP code scanning feature. Simply look online for the listing for local law enforcement, ambulance dispatch, weather reports, and road condition bulletins.  You may find that the frequencies in which some emergency agencies operate on can change from month to month or year to year. In this case, you can simply plug your scanner into your PC and have the database updated, or you can do another search online for any frequency changes.

Local Frequencies

One of the most common questions that beginners have regarding scanner usage is how can they determine what frequency to use based on their location. Most models of scanners these days come equipped with a zip code feature that will allow you to simply enter in a zip code and the device will automatically scan for local frequencies. This feature is often referred to as zip code scan or close call feature. And it’s a great feature for beginners to have since it doesn’t involve much research on their part and the process is basically automatic, once you hit the scan button.

Both the ZIP code scanning feature and close call feature offers some similarities however both work differently. A close call feature is a type of receiving option that will search local bands for a stronger signal and automatically lock onto them. While this is a great feature to have it does come with some limitations.

Officer standing

The  type of range the close call feature operates on all depends on the strength of a particular signal. In order to trigger a close call and have it lock on to a particular frequency it must be very strong. This feature can be a great way to find local frequencies and can even allow you to tune in to walkie-talkie conversations however  it’s not considered a good replacement for the zip code scanning feature.

If you do a lot of traveling, then the zip code feature is a must. It’s perfect for those passing through who are not familiar with local frequencies that are used in the area. However, many of the main channels for each location are usually listed on websites dedicated to listing radio frequencies based on county, city, or state.

How Often Should I Change Channels?

Some cities and counties will always use the same channels and have for several years. As an example many police departments will use the same radio channels they’ve been using for the past 20 to 30 years. In other places the frequencies change several times throughout the year.

If you have a model that’s equipped with the zip code scanning feature,  I recommend updating its database at least once a month. On average channels are changed by emergency services twice a year.

If you don’t have a scanner with the zip code feature, then staying up-to-date with local frequencies can be incredibly difficult. Most models that don’t come equipped with this feature will require you to manually search for local frequencies.

Widely Used Frequencies

You’ll find that most frequencies that are higher than 30 MHz are often assigned locally. But in order to determine what frequency to listen in on a local fire department police station you’ll need to  find a website that features a database for frequencies that are used per County or state. However, there are some frequencies that are used nationally. I’ve included a list of some of the most common agencies that have used the same frequency for several years.

 34.90:  This is a channel that has been used by the National Guard for emergency purposes for several years.

39.46:  This specific channel is used by state and local police forces for inter-department emergency communications.

47.42 : This channel is used for relief operations for the Red Cross.

52.525: If you want to listen in on ham radio operators in FM then this is the frequency you need to tune into.

 138 .225: This station is used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for prime disaster relief operations.

146.52: On this frequency, you can listen in on ham radio users for non-repeater communication.

154.28: Used by local fire departments for inter-department emergency communication.

 155.60:  Used by state and local agencies for inter-department emergency communications.

156.75:  This is an international news channel that broadcasts maritime weather.

 162.40: The NOAA uses  this frequency for weather broadcasts

  1. 4875: A frequency commonly used by the National Guard in the event of an emergency.

Related Questions

What’s the Best Scanner Equipped with the Zip Code Scan Feature?

I recommend the Uniden Home Patrol- Simple Program Digital Scanner, which allows you to simply enter in your zip code and the device will automatically scan for local frequencies. This is a very beginner-friendly model that offers excellent range and clarity, easy setup, and plenty of other features that will help to keep you up to date with local events as they happen.

What is a Digital Police Scanner?

Digital scanners allow you to listen in on conversations that take place between emergency responders, ambulance dispatch, firefighters, police, and more. A digital model allows you to listen to trunked, analog, and digital transmissions.

Can a Scanner Pick Up Walkie Talkie Conversations?

Yes, some models can. These scanners will allow you to listen in on amateur radio frequencies, which can even include baby monitors, cell phones, and of course, walkie talkies. To learn more, read my guide on walkie talkie code, where you’ll also get some great information on the safest and best walkie talkies.

Final Thoughts

Digital police scanner frequencies can vary  based on the city, county, or state you live in. If you’re not sure which  local frequencies to use, you can easily obtain this information doing a search on Google. In some cases, your scanner will come with a guide list of national frequencies that you can use to manually program into your scanner and store them based on category for easier access. Once you receive your new scanner, you can either use the zip code feature to automatically scan for local frequencies, or if the scanner does not come equipped with this technology you can check out some great websites online and manually enter them in and save them to the scanner’s memory bank. This is the best way to be prepared and will allow you to customize your scanner listening experience based on the information you want to keep track of in your area.