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Everything To Know About Police Scanners

Updated on April 10, 2013

What is a police scanner? Interested in purchasing a police scanner? Do you have a police scanner and do not know how to work it? Hear some codes (like 10-6) that you are not familiar with? This page will answer these questions and you will be on your way to enjoying the thrills of a police scanner.

Police Scanner:

A police scanner is a device where you can listen to police, fire, and medical services. More communications come with different scanners. Police scanners help you to get informed with the happenings around you. Yes, police scanners are completely legal. Hopefully you will enjoy your scanner.

Basics of a Police Scanner:

(Note: The following instructions of a police scanner were taken observing a Pro-164 1000 Channel Handheld Scanner, picture below)

Police scanners are very fun. It is hard to learn everything about a police scanner, but once you get it down, it is very easy. First, lets start with the batteries. Most police scanners run on 4 AA batteries that can be easily purchased at a local store. On the back of the scanner is where you can take of the covering and place the batteries in a container. The container hold the batteries. When you run out, just take the batteries out and reload some more new batteries. Then place the top covering on. Now, the power and SQ nobs. On the top of your police scanner to the right, that nob is the power nob. Twist the nob clockwise to turn it on. Connected to the power button is the SQ button. When the SQ (squelch) button is all the way to the left, you will have a lot of static. When it is all the way to the right (go clockwise) you will be able to listen to your scanner with no interuptions of static. Now, move to the right and you will see a place where you can plug in headphones and listen. Move to the right again and you will see the place where you attach the antenna. Just below all of this is the screen where you can view the channel, frequency, and the city police name. Just below the screen is the speaker where you can hear all of the talk. That is the first half of your police scanner.

Under the speaker, you see all of the buttons. The first button on the top left is the scan button. When you have your police scanner programmed, which you can do wherever you bought your police scanner, the scan button is for searching for frequencies that are currently talking. The FUNC buttons stands for function. The next button is MAN which you can use to manually select a channel or enter a channel number. The T button is for trunking, which accesses trunking functions. The next button the the Skywarn button. Press this button and you automatically get current weather and warnings. This is very useful when the power goes out and you cant watch the weather on the television. Next, there are 5 buttons to the far left, PRI, TEXT, PSE, MODE, and the button with the light on it (bottom, far left). PRI is the priority button, TEXT activates text buttons, PSE pauses the channel you are on, MODE changes the receive mode, and then the button with the light. Press this button and it turns the light on, which is useful in the dark. Next on the very bottom, there are 4 buttons, SRCH, L/OUT, PGM, and ENT. SRCH is where you can search, L/OUT is where you can lockout a channel, PGM is program, and ENT is enter. Next, go to the two buttons to the right of PRI and TEXT. These buttons and TUNE and ATT. TUNE enters tune mode, and ATT stands for attenuator. To the bottom of these is the up and down arrows, which you can use to go up a channel, or down a channel. All the other buttons are for selecting a channel.

When your scanner is programmed, the channels in your area are now on your scanner. The store will give you a sheet of paper listing every channel. To select a channel, first press the button MAN. Then select your channel. For example, if the channel you want is 108, you type in MAN, 108, and then MAN again.

This covers about all the dimensions of your scanner. For more in depth information, you can always you the booklet that came with the scanner.

(for other questions, emails are accepted.


Hear are some common codes you might hear the police officers or dispatch say. It is known as the Ten-Code System.

10-4 ok, affirmitive , 10-6 busy , 10-7 out of service , 10-8 back in serivce , 10-9 repeat last message , 10-20 location , 10-27 drivers liscense check , 10-28 vehicle registration check , 10-29 warrants check , 10-40 run no lights/siren , 10-51 wrecker needed , 10-97 on scene.

When calling in a license plate, the police use these words to represent letters:

A-Adam, B-Boy, C-Charles, D-David, E-Edward, F-Frank, G-George, H-Henry, I-Ida, J-John, K-King, L-Lincoln, M-Mary, N-Nora, O-Ocean, P-Paul, Q-Queen, R-Robert, S-Sam, T-Tom, U-Union, V-Victor, W-William, X-Xray, Y-Young, Z-Zebra.

These are just a few of the many codes that officers use.

Hopefully this page will help you with your police scanner. Good luck with your police scanner and happy scanning!!


Pro 164 1000 Channel Handheld


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Thanks it helped alot

    • profile image

      robert b manning 

      4 years ago


    • profile image

      paul g 

      6 years ago

      i have a radio shack 1000 chan tripple trunk scanner. my question is if i don't want a chanel lock out what should the l/out look like on the screen? my options are when i press it its either all in caps or all lower case. which would make the chanel not lock out?

    • johnb0127 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from TX

      Most, if not all, scanner feeds can be found on!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have an old scanner my mother purchased about 20 years ago! other than the back light it works fine. My only problem is that only 2-4 channels are active. Where can I get updated frequencies to program my scanner?

    • zzron profile image


      8 years ago from Houston, TX.

      Nice hub, I have a 200 ch. handheld I got from Radio Shack a few years ago. I love it.

    • johnb0127 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from TX

      Yeah, I have heard about that too.

    • johnr54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      9 years ago from Texas

      I was surprised to find there is an App on the iPhone called Emer.Radio that has a lot of web based scanner functionality. It can also listen in to NASA conversations.

    • johnb0127 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from TX

      Thanks rast! No, I am not. Im just interested in this kind of stuff. You a cop?

    • rastrother profile image


      9 years ago from Lake Jackson, Texas

      nice hub john are u a cop?

    • gourownway profile image


      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      Nice little piece on scanners. You should know, at least out west they are starting to jam frequencies so you are not able to pick up certain police departments anymore. Also the alphabet you use is popular on the East coast and in the Midwest, however, a lot of the departments out West use the military alphabet, A-alpha, B-beta, C-Charles, D-delta, and so on. Nice hub though!

    • johnb0127 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from TX

      Thanks tanjab

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      great article - very informative - i am going to shop for a scanner now.


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