Many police scanners automatically scan for frequencies, but consider manually programming your scanner if you’re looking for specific agencies.
Your police scanner should come with manual instructions and customers have given positive feedback about the setup process for many of the products we’ve reviewed. So start there, then consider these steps when programming a police scanner.
- Frequencies—Locate the police radio frequencies or other agency frequencies you’ll want to follow (a quick Google search should do the trick), so you can program in your scanner which frequencies to pick up.
- Power—Fire up the scanner. Don’t be alarmed if you only hear white noise—you haven’t programmed your frequencies yet.
- Program—Most police scanners have a programming button labeled PGM or “Prog”. Hold that down until your screen flashes and displays “CH,” meaning it’s ready for channels.
- Channels—Enter your channel number (three digits), then frequency number (five to six digits), and press Enter.
If you have a handheld police scanner, be sure to charge the batteries before trying to program. Some may require going into manual mode before setting frequencies, so press the Manual button labeled to start programming.
Keep in mind that live police scanners often have a Scan mode to pick up agency and police radio frequencies automatically if manual programming isn’t your thing.