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Old 2008-01-28
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Craig Craig is offline
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Default Monitor police calls with a scanner?

I had an inquiry from a reader today that merits mention:

Hello, I recently just read your radar detector and scanner reviews and found them extremely informative! I am in the market for a scanner, and am looking at the Uniden beartracker bct15. You have not reviewed it, but have reviewed the older models and have stated that the feature that allows you to detect a state trooper within 2-3 miles no longer works. Supposedly the newer model still does according to their website, but this could be outdated. Can you confirm or test if the new BCT15 works? Thanks! Matt

My reply:

"I have an earlier Uniden with similar features installed in one of my police vehicles. If you’re interested in keeping tabs on state troopers, this would make a good choice. It covers all public safety frequencies and through its Trunk Tracking technology, lets you listen in on 800- and 900-MHz trunked systems used by a number of larger departments.

Bear Tracker is the Uniden feature that tips you to a nearby state trooper. But there are some big caveats here. For example, the agency first must be using mobile extenders, the fixed-frequency, low-powered repeater in the cruiser that communicates between the car’s police radio and the trooper-s walkie-talkie.

Only about one third of the state highway patrols use mobile extenders. And the largest user, the California Highway Patrol, revised their mobile extender operation several years ago. The ME once was left on for the entire shift, meaning that it transmitted whenever the officer keyed the mic. With this kind of cooperation, you would almost always get an alert when still 1-3 miles from the CHP car.

But in the late nineties use of the ME was altered and it was switched on only when the officer exited the vehicle. No more early warnings.

But some states still leave their ME transmitters switched on constantly. Not surprisingly, the Bear Tracker feature works great in these states.

I routinely pack a Uniden BCT10 mini-scanner when I’m testing high-performance cars. With cell phones everywhere, I like to monitor SHP frequencies and hear about it when some outraged citizen has called the HP to whine about being passed by somebody driving a cruise missile. The dispatcher typically puts out a BOLO (Be On the Lookout), an area-wide broadcast describing the vehicle, location, direction of travel and other particulars. Like they say, knowledge is power.

So to answer your question, if you have a keen interest in monitoring public safety channels, plus the weather and other helpful sources—and you have the patience needed to use a scanner—the BCT15 would be a very good choice. If you'd like more information there's an extensive story about this and other unconventional countermeasures."


Craig's Sig:Protect yourself: Learn everything you need to know about police radar, lasers and laser jammers and radar detectors from the man Automobile magazine calls "the world's most-quoted authority on speed-measuring technology and tactics, and an underground legend among speeders"

Read Driver's Guide to Police Radar, the definitive guide to radar, lasers, time/distance computers and police speed-enforcement tactics

Member of The National Motorists Organization since 1990.
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