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Thread: Clueless!

  1. #1

    Default Clueless!

    Hello all

    I've recently been trying to figure out how to scan police and emergency radio frequencies. I live in Portland, Or, where if it's not an urban riot, it's a mega fire 20 miles from the city limits. Through this tumultuous year, I've realized that news reporting isn't reliable or timely and I'm tired of waiting/wondering what is happening. I had no idea I was going down a rabbit hole with this, and I find myself way out of my depth. I think my biggest question, is am I even in the right rabbit hole? And if so, I'd love some advice on information resources for people like me who don't really want to have to learn much more than I need to in order to be able to scan the police frequencies. I'd like to get a hand-held radio, for around $150 or less (if that's even a viable option), that has good info on how to program it...apparently it's pretty complicated. Also, it seems there are different standards depending on the police department and I'm not sure how to figure out which one Portland police use. Any tips? Do I need to get a license in order to program this type of radio?

    Thanks everyone!!!

  2. #2


    Download a scanner app for your phone on google play. Most, but not all, share resources and often include police, ems, schools, ham repeaters etc. How does that work??? People are paid to connect their scanners to the internet and stream the audio to these apps. There is about a 3 second delay from real time. This is way easier than buying an expensive digital scanner and learning how to program in the talkgroups and frequencies.

    Edit: I am listening to Portland Dispatch right now on Broadcastify. Took 2 minutes to set up, completely free
    Last edited by brandon lind; Fri 9th Oct 2020 at 14:38.

  3. #3


    Police, emergency services & military in UK started using TETRA many years ago. I have no doubt that all western countries do now.
    TETRA is encrypted communication.

  4. #4


    We are not there yet over here. Certain agencies and task forces (especially with drugs) use encrypted radios but most sheriff departments do not.

    I'm sure that will change, and when it does, the number of radios stolen out of police cars will skyrocket. There is a market here for apps that let you listen to law enforcement, guess its a popular hobby over here. Until the desire to listen evaporates, the people supplying a means to do so will never disappear. If there is money to be made by such apps and streaming the county feed to the net, there will need to be encrypted radios that can rotate codes and/or eliminate a stolen radio from the group. Spending a million bucks to upgrade the sheriff department to encrypted radios without the ability to remove a stolen unit from the group is a total waste of money. That will be a few years here. And as far as I know, I think encryption is a standard feature with P25 but is often not used.

    here is an article on why some agencies choose not to encrypt their traffic
    Last edited by brandon lind; Mon 9th Nov 2020 at 18:49.

  5. #5
    gnuuser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    NW Pa,USA


    In most cases encryption of tactical frequencies is to prevent possible suspects for knowing whats going on to protect the lives of the law enforcement/ first responders, and the public lives.

    frustrating as it is for others the information is not necessary for the public to know!
    there are emergency channels and frequencies open to the public that are part of the emergency broadcast systems and most of these can override a station broadcast in the event of an emergency.

    ham operators are a vital communication source especially if power grids go down and as a resource for emergency services.
    the major difference is that licensed ham operators are forbidden to encrypt messages and can easily lose their licenses and privilege.
    this is a critical item that is self enforced by all ham operators!

    there are methods of tracking illegal messages ( often called fox hunting) but they also fox hunting contests on locating signals (done for fun).
    fox hunting is a method of coordinated triangulation to pinpoint a point source of a transmission.

    but as brandon lind pointed out as long as someone has the frequencies available there will always be someone who will be willing to sell the information.

    another note to ponder digital radios used by emergency services have a code signature that must be submitted to 911 and law enforcement agencies (this is done in order to activate them for signal reception and encryption) and its easy for them to disable a radio that has been stolen
    I can do the same with any of the rfid access fobs used at our fire hall and school!

    you can get handheld radios that can be programmed for police and firefighter bands but you cannot transmit on those frequencies. most handhelds used by police and firefighters are limited to 5 watts and a ham radio can interrupt and seriously override those frequencies, (sometimes at a cost of a life)
    Last edited by gnuuser; Tue 10th Nov 2020 at 01:41.
    Im so old dirt was my apprentice

  6. #6


    when you move Emergency service comms to a late 20th century, nevermind 21st century solution equipment stolen from personnel / vehicles rapidly becomes a doorstop much the same as a stolen mobile phone ... because they can be stunned or even bricked OTA...

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