Sunday, June 21, 2020

Phone Apps that mimic "Police" scanners

First, let me announce that I am NOT an expert on police scanners or phone apps.

Second, a cross-current and a back-eddy both brought me to where this is the subject du jour.

The cross-current is Southern Belle who lives in the Miami-Dade area. Like many large, urban, multi-cultural areas Miami-Dade experienced tension.

Southern Belle is not always attentive to the news. Sometimes she is behind the curve and needs to catch up. When events are accelerating, there is not time to wait for CNN to report on it at the top of the hour.

The back-eddy was an on-going discussion I have been happening with one of my email friends.

Suppose you are going off-property. If you do not expect trouble you carry your Glock 19 and a spare magazine (34 rounds of 9mm ammo) and your Leatherman Wave.

Being a realistic fellow, you figure that under stress you might achieve a 33% hit rate at 10 paces. That is 11/34 probable hits at 350 ft-lbs per hit or about 4000 ft-lbs total. Oh, and you might be very, very optimistic on your hit rate.

If you KNEW trouble was heading your way, you would not leave the property.

You would be sitting on the front porch, much like the two old men in Second-Hand Lion. You would be sitting there with your AR and six magazines. Not only would you be armed, but so would every person person on the property over the age of 12.

At ten paces you would be +67% at 10 paces with 1250 ft-lbs* per hit. 180 rounds * 0.67 * 1250 ft-lbs = 150,000 ft-lbs. Advantage to the AR over the Glock by a factor of about 35. Oh, and that was just you. That does not include the Mrs, your two kids and the not-quite worthless boyfriend.

The difference is KNOWING trouble is coming your way.

The Vikings were devastatingly effective because they showed up in your harbor without warning. The gates to the local castle were unlocked, the "soldiers" were slopping the hogs. The Vikings moved down the coastline more quickly than information could travel by land.

Which brings us back to police scanners.

I called a local fire-fighter to ask what he recommended. He said the local guys all use "Scanner Radio".

Another app that looks useful is "Scanner 911". What I found appealing about Scanner 911 was this review that said that Scanner 911 plots calls on a map. Southern Belle could look at the map and plot a course home that swung around the problem areas.

The best way to avoid problems is to not be there. Social unrest in the Miami area could be 15 miles away from Southern Belle or three blocks away. If it is three blocks away then it is very useful to know if one should travel north, south or west to avoid it.** Maps are analog and humans process analog far more quickly in stressful situations than digital data.

I will appreciate any readers who want to chime in regarding any "Emergency Scanner" phone apps they have used. Let me know if you hated it or loved it, and why.


*Kinetic Energy is an imperfect measure of how effective a round will be at stopping a threat. The most critical factor is shot placement. The ability to shoot both accurately and quickly cannot be over-rated. The second most critical factor is probably the matching of the projectile, the probable impact velocity and the "hardness" of the target. In the absence of accuracy and appropriateness of the projectile choice, kinetic energy is a reasonable starting point for estimating "stopping power".
**In general, Miami becomes more congested as one travels east. It would be unusual for east to be the direction of choice (in Miami) in the event of social unrest.


  1. Thought provoking couple of concepts in this post. Good info almost always trumps bad surprises. It's for that reason the percentage of fatalities from tornadoes and hurricanes has dropped over time. I'm hoping to hear more about the scanner apps. I'd like to pull the other thread and see where it goes. A couple years ago when I thought about getting a modern sporting... I asked a relative with more knowledge if I got it what I should put through it. Without hesitation the answer was the 62gr steel core over the 55gr. Time has passed and I have viewed lots of videos including ones from Paul Harell on youtube. I watched the effects on the "meat target" and now am confused. I realize that I failed to ask important questions. Target,overpenatration,effectiveness,range,these are all factors I failed to take into account when I naively asked what should I get. Got any interesting opinions about this subject?

  2. I have Scanner Radio on my phone as does my daughter. It's better than nothing and it does come in handy. Be aware that various PDs have pressured individuals who were streaming their agencies radio traffic to stop. Mount Airy and Surry County NC are 2 examples that I know about first hand.

    This is why I have a Bearcat BCP996P2 an arm's length away and a new Bearcat BCD325P2 that will be delivered tomorrow. I subscribe to RadioReference, and I can download and program frequencies for any location I may visit in a few minutes. While my area is pretty quiet so far (we just had our first "remove down the Confederate statue" rally this week with all 25 people politely attending), I'm not betting on it staying that way, and I'm not going to be at the mercy of someone else's scanner or the Internet.

  3. Scanner Radio. When you log on it shows the most popular scanners. For instance Atlanta had 14,000 listeners couple days ago, and almost zero calls. If there is a hot spot you can find it quickly. Sometimes you get a notification if something big pops. Chicago has non stop traffic. You hear horrible stuff sometimes. Other times the ladies doing dispatch are especially nice to the guys they are talking to. I think it is interesting.