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Mobile Police Scanners - Legal?

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  • Mobile Police Scanners - Legal?

    I have heard some conflicting information about hand held/mobile police scanners. Are they legal to have or not? If not, why? What is the difference between a at home scanner that you often see citizens have in their homes and one you could carry in your car? (note: I have no idea why a citizen would even carry one in their car but still ask the question so I have a full picture). Thank you.

  • #2
    *** NOT LEO***

    Not sure about other states but here in MI its a no-no.

    Its kind of a no brainer. Lets say you want to go committ a crime. So your committing the crime and u here on your mobile scanner the cops are comming. Why dont we just make all crime legal too. I BELIEVE the home scanners are ok because its like listening to a radio. I was told to watch what I say when I get on the radio because anyone can be listening but I would assume the reason you cant take a mobile (unless an leo) is because it could be considered a tool helping you in your crime

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    • #3
      Scanners (the technical term in law is a police radio signal receiver) in a vehicle, either mounted or portable are illegal in Kentucky. The main reason is so that criminals can't monitor the police radio traffic while committing or preparing to commit a crime. At home, you can do little to interfere with the police, but in your car, you are more likely to drive by crime/accident scenes interfering or just getting in the way of the police.

      The news media and wreckers are exempt from the scanner regulation because of the types of jobs they have.
      Last edited by jricks; 10-09-2005, 10:30 PM.

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      • #4
        Perfectly legal in GA.

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        • #5
          Legal in VT as long as it's not used in the commission of a crime.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Vtfuzz
            Legal in VT as long as it's not used in the commission of a crime.
            Same in Virginia. It's illegal if used to further a crime.
            Blame it on the Trunk Monkey!!!

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            • #7
              Illegal in NYS

              It's illegal in New York State. It's also somewhat irrational. It's perfectly legal to have one in your home, or a portable one as you walk down the street. Just not in a MV.

              So, while the perp is prying open the back door from the alley, he is entitled to listen to police radios, just not while driving there.
              You can now follow me on twitter.

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              • #8
                Wow, interesting. Thanks for the info. Would have never thought about using such a thing to help a crime but when you explain it, I can see the problem. Maybe that is how some guys stay one step ahead of the law.

                So then how do officers communicate on their radio's without giving away what they are doing and where they are headed? Even people at home could hear about a possible burglar down the street and head over to see what's up like many do with fires etc. (trust me, we all know there are those that following just about anything).

                Amazing what the average crook will do to get ahead.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Norm357
                  Perfectly legal in GA.
                  I thought they were only legal if you kept them at home. I'm gonna have to look that up now lol.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ScrapinPT
                    *** NOT LEO***

                    Not sure about other states but here in MI its a no-no.
                    blah, blah, blah...
                    This is a prime example why this forum is called "Ask a Cop" and not "Ask a non-LEO" Hand held scanners are perfectly legal in Michigan. However, one must have a permit to possess any type of scanner in a vehicle.
                    Michigan Compiled Laws
                    750.508 Equipping vehicle with radio able to receive signals on frequencies assigned for police purposes; permit required; exceptions; misdemeanor; penalty; radar detectors not applicable.

                    Sec. 508.

                    (1) Any person who shall equip a vehicle with a radio receiving set that will receive signals sent on frequencies assigned by the federal communications commission of the United States of America for police purposes, or use the same in this state unless the vehicle is used or owned by a peace officer, or a bona fide amateur radio operator holding a technician class, general, advanced, or extra class amateur license issued by the federal communications commission, without first securing a permit so to do from the director of the department of state police upon application as he or she may prescribe, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or both.
                    Last edited by JHoek; 10-10-2005, 03:43 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Legal in MA but due to the changes being made with frequencies they will be of little use in near future unless you cough up the big bucks for the more modern scanners. ther is a article on this site that will explain alot better than I can BTW hey to all its been a while sience I ve visited due to personal reasons
                      www.scanboston.com
                      "If there must be trouble let it be in my day,that my child may have peace."
                      Thomas Paine

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                      • #12
                        Mobile Police Scanners-Legal?

                        Legal in Alabama, but I don't recommend you starting to show up at accidents or crime scenes. I wouldn't invest a whole lot of money in any type scanner at present as many LE agencies are going to encrypted frequencies. This will make many current scanners obsolete.

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                        • #13
                          As a side note, under Federal (FCC) law, it is a crime to tell any person what you have heard on a scanner.
                          "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
                          John Stuart Mill

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                          • #14
                            If you are a licensed ham radio operator you can listen to a scanner in your car anywhere in the country.
                            It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses....Hit it!

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                            • #15
                              RabbitMPD - Do you or another officer know where I could find the law pertaining to ham radio operators being able to carry a scanner in a motor vehicle?

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