Local News

Public Uses Scanners to Listen to Police Radios

Posted August 6, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Crimes like the Yosemite murders fascinate people. The public is hungry for more information. People want to know what the police know, not just what comes through the TV news. They want theuneditedversion.

The need to know is what is driving the increasing popularity of scanners. By tuning in, the public can feel like they are behind the the scenes of an emergency.

"I've even eavesdropped on a hostage situation listening to the police and how they were handling how to negotiate with the hostage taker," says a man who uses scanners.

With a scanner, anyone can be privy to most of the information the police have.

"It is fun to listen to," he says. "When you tune into the news later on, and you hear the report on tv, you say I know more than that."

Captain Dennis Poteat says more and more people call in asking for details about what they heard on the scanner.

"It is almost a form of entertainment," he says. "They are used to having the breaking news and things live on the scene. With scanners it is not what just happened; it is what is actually happening."

Anyone can get a scanner; they are available at electronics stores for $50. Books including all the frequencies are available too. TheRaleigh police departmentwill even provide a list explaining the codes they use.

"Maybe people have just burned out listening to the radio and just want to hear the real thing," says Poteat.

There is one small problem with scanners. Some people may want to rush to the scene of an emergency or crime to check it out. Police advise against doing that; they will only be in the way.