The 6 Best Police Scanners of 2023

Portability, analog vs. digital bands, and extra features are the top three things to consider when buying a scanner

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The best police scanners are easy to set up and use, providing clear audio quality on a broad range of frequencies.

Need to make a quick decision? Go with our budget pick, the Uniden BC365CRS. It covers the bands most commonly used for first responder transmissions, as well as aircraft and marine transmissions.

Got more time to shop? Take a look at all your options below. We researched and tested them all so that you don't have to.

Best Overall

Uniden BearTracker 885



What We Like
  • Hybrid CB radio and trunk-tracking scanner

  • Has GPS

  • Noise-canceling microphone

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

One of the pricier options on this list, the Uniden Beartracker 885, offers a full-featured CB radio and digital trunk tracking police scanner. It has GPS included, so it can automatically select nearby channels from its database (which is updated weekly). You don’t have to do any sort of complex programming while you drive, as the scanner does the work for you. It provides weather alerts, PA functionality, and much more with an easy-to-read LCD. 

This is an excellent device for communications, safety, and general peace of mind for anyone who spends a lot of time on the road. The BearTracker 885 also has a noise-canceling mic that allows for clear conversation, and it’s also wireless mic compatible.

Bonus: It alerts you when there’s a nearby public safety transmission, so it can serve as a radar detector alternative.

Best Budget

Uniden BC365CRS 500 Channel Scanner and Alarm Clock



What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Good reception

  • Useful features 

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat old school 

The Uniden BC365CRS is a 500 Channel Scanner that also serves as an alarm clock, an AM/FM radio, FM broadcast radio, and a weather alert device. It includes 500 channels in 10 banks, so you can search police and fire bands, along with aircraft, amateur radio, and marine transmissions.

This is designed as a tabletop scanner, so it’s not the best option to take with you on the go. The BC365CRS takes three AA batteries, and it includes an antenna and AC adapter in the package.

The reception will depend somewhat on your geographic area and the type of transmissions you’re attempting to receive. Most users say they receive clear audio with police, fire, weather, and radio transmissions, but this is a basic, analog, non-trunking scanner, so it may not be able to pick up transmissions from some agencies. It’s best to check the compatibility against the local agencies in your area.

Best for Home

Uniden HomePatrol-2 Color Touchscreen Simple Program Digital Scanner



What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Lightweight

  • Includes rechargeable batteries

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't include a power adapter

The Uniden HomePatrol-2 digital scanner has a pre-programmed database with a highly functional scanner that’s perfect for any room in the house. It includes a flip-stand so you can stand it up almost anywhere.

The Uniden is a highly recommended digital scanner that includes specialized features such as quick record and playback. There’s no programming required; just enter your zip code and HomePatrol-2 will load all the recognized police, fire, and EMS channels in the surrounding area. It includes channel information for the US and Canada from

Weighing just over a pound, the HomePatrol-2 is easy to tote around and use almost anywhere. This product includes rechargeable batteries that last between five and six hours but also comes with a USB charging cord that you can connect to a standard USB power brick.

Best Digital

Uniden BCD996P2 Digital Mobile TrunkTracker V Scanner



What We Like
  • GPS compatibility

  • Lots of great features

  • Includes ample accessories

What We Don't Like
  • Some features require paid upgrades

Meant as a one-stop-shop for analog scanning and digital transmissions, the Uniden BCD99P2 is one of the better scanners out there. Whatever your needs, the BCD99P2 most likely has you covered, even if it does so in a fairly spendy package. 

The BCD99P2 is capable of location-based scanning, and can detect nearby radio transmissions. The TrunkTracker V scanner also offers continuous band coverage spanning 25 MHz to 1.3 GHz. Factor in 25,000 different dynamically allocated channels.

You’ll have enough options to cover all your local systems, recalled via the intuitive internal memory of the unit. It all comes in a compact 11 x 3.75 x 8.5-inch unit with a bright display and easy-to-navigate controls.

Best Analog

Uniden Bearcat BC75XLT Handheld Scanner



What We Like
  • Compact and portable

  • Has Close Call RF technology

  • Simplistic design

What We Don't Like
  • Weaker reception in some areas

Featuring the ability to connect to public safety, military aircraft, and racing scanner channels, Uniden’s BC75XLT is a terrific choice for analog scanner fans. The built-in search functionality is second-to-none, and it quickly identifies channels for police, fire, marine, air, weather, and more, which makes the BC75XLT a useful pickup-and-go analog scanner. 

You can save 300 channels into the scanner’s memory or 30 channels total in 10 separate banks. This makes it easy to scan for current transmissions on each stored channel.

Additionally, the inclusion of Close Call RF capture technology assists the BC75XLT in identifying and detecting nearby transmissions, even if they aren’t pre-programmed into a channel. Powered by two AA batteries, the BC75XLT is both lightweight and designed to fit in the hand. Overall, it has good reception.

Best Vehicle

Uniden BCD536HP HomePatrol Series Digital Phase 2 Base/Mobile Scanner



What We Like
  • Wi-Fi enabled 

  • Connects remotely to Uniden Siren App

  • No programming required

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Uniden’s BCD536HP scanner offers some of the easiest-to-program features available on a scanner. You just type in your zip code, and the scanner does the work for you. There’s even a Wi-Fi option that allows you to use the exclusive Uniden siren app on your smartphone or tablet to access the scanner from anywhere in the home or a vehicle. 

The LCD backlit keypad helps illuminate the unit, so you can see it in the dark and quickly access the controls. Included within the packaging are home and auto power cords, as well as a mounting bracket for inside the vehicle and a Wi-Fi dongle and telescoping antenna.

There’s no battery power to worry about since this Uniden scanner runs entirely off a car battery or a power adapter.

Final Verdict

The BearTracker 885’s (view at Amazon) included GPS, CB radio, and noise-canceling microphone make it an excellent choice for truckers or anyone who spends a lot of time on the road. For an inexpensive handheld option, the Uniden Bearcat BC365CRS (view at Amazon) is a good model to check out.

What to Look For in a Police Scanner

Think about the portability you do or do not need in a scanner. Police scanners are available as handheld units, as mobile scanners for vehicle installation, or as stationary desktop scanners.

Next, determine whether or not you need an analog or digital scanner. Digital scanners tend to have the best compatibility, but you’ll get by fine with a less expensive analog police scanner if your local agencies haven’t made the jump to digital yet. Check in your area to see which band type your local agencies are using.

Finally, think about the types of features you really need. Are you just looking for something basic or do you want a scanner that provides extra features, such as an alarm clock, GPS, Wi-Fi, or CB radio functionality.

"The newer police scanners have a built-in GPS to automatically change to different channels as you travel from area to area. This is important as users can filter through channels to get signals nearby or in a specific location elsewhere." Whitney Joy Smith, President of Smith Investigation Agency

About Our Trusted Expert

Erika Rawes has been a professional writer for more than 10 years. She's spent the last five writing about consumer technology, including gadgets like police scanners for personal use.

  • Does Best Buy sell police scanners?

    Best Buy does sell police scanners with many brands available like Uniden, Whistler, Midland, Cobra, and the in-house and affordable Insignia brand. You can find options ranging from handheld to bigger base and truck-mounted scanners.

  • What is the best handheld police scanner?

    For a handheld scanner, we're partial to the Uniden Bearcat BC75XLT. It's a handheld scanner that can connect to public safety, military aircraft, and racing scanner channels. It's an analog scanner that can quickly identify police, fire, marine, air, weather, and more. The scanner can handle 300 channels in its memory, or 30 channels in 10 separate banks. It only requires two AA batteries to work, making it a good portable option to take with you on the go.

  • What is the best digital police scanner?

    Our top pick for digital police scanners is the Uniden BCD996P2. It comes from a well-known brand with support for both analog scanning and digital transmissions. It can also do location-based scanning and detect nearby transmissions. The scanner supports continuous band coverage from 25MHz to 1.3GHz, with 25,000 dynamically allocated channels. If you want to cover all your bases, it's a great option.

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