(U//FOUO/LES) Maryland Fusion Center Criminal Use of Police Scanner Apps and RadioReference.com

This bulletin was originally published on RadioReference.com by users of the site.  A brief section of the document has been redacted at the request of the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center to remove personal information related to non-law enforcement staff.

Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center Criminal Use of Police Scanner Apps

  • 3 pages
  • For Official Use Only
  • Law Enforcement Sensitive
  • December 9, 2011


(U//FOUO//LES) During several recent contacts with criminal gang members, an identified Maryland law enforcement agency has heard their radio transmissions broadcast over a suspect’s smartphone. In one incident, officers pursuing a suspect on foot overheard the suspect listening to the pursuing officers’ radio transmission over a smartphone. The radio broadcasts of the agency’s primary secure law enforcement channel had an approximate delay of three seconds on the suspect’s smartphone.

(U//FOUO//LES) Further investigation revealed that the general public, as well as criminal gang members and associates, are utilizing the website www.radioreference.com to listen to law enforcement secure channels streaming via the Internet. Registration and access to the site is free, with advanced features available to premium subscribers. A customer is able to search radio frequencies throughout the country by state, metro area, city and/or zip code. The website advertises a search for trunked frequencies as well. The frequencies are obtained over the Internet and any cell phone that has web access can listen in.

(U) As of 2010, there were at least 20 scanner applications (apps) on the market for download to smartphones. Some examples are iScanner and 5-0 Radio Police Scanner for iPhones and Police Stream for Android phones. The 5-0 Radio Police Scanner app advertises access to police, fire, aircraft, railroad, and marine frequencies. These apps can be downloaded to the smartphone and at a touch of the screen will allow the user to listen to emergency frequencies via their mobile device.

(U//FOUO//LES) This situation presents a concern for officer safety. A criminal who is able to listen to law enforcement radio transmissions in near-real time could use the information to further their criminal activity, hide criminal activity, assist in a get-away, gain investigative information or set up an ambush position. Law enforcement needs to maintain a heightened awareness that criminals may exploit emerging technology in order to gain an upper-hand during the planning, execution, and escape phases of their crimes.

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8 comments for “(U//FOUO/LES) Maryland Fusion Center Criminal Use of Police Scanner Apps and RadioReference.com

  1. y0y
    January 6, 2012 at 8:15 am

    So? Ever hear of police scanners? Nothing illegal here. As for officer safety, sorry, police have shown themselves time and again as being willing to abuse their powers. Civilians being able to monitor their channels is a check on this. Can this be abused be abused by the bad guys? Yes, just like everything else is a free democratic society can. However, since the police hold all the cards for the most part and can now attach gps trackers without any warrant or even suspicion of a crime, all I have to say about their concerns over this is suck it up. I would rather the rare bad guy get away then let you all run amok. You scare me much more then they do. Them I can meet on equal footing, you I cannot even come close to in any sense of the word.

  2. John Smith
    January 6, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Lot of whining from the thugs in blue. The issue of criminals using a scanner is very limited to only a few cases nationwide. This is NOT a big issue. However, with Motorola’s stranglehold on public safety comms they (Moto) are pushing the use of digital and encryption for public safety. This is the issue here, Motorola’s over selling of radio systems to law enforcement and other agencys. If they (Moto and law enforcement ) whine and bell ache about people listening to their radio traffic then they can make their case to spend the millions of dollars to upgrade to encryption. Again, the vast majority of police have no reason to use encryption despite how many cases they highlight in order to fool the sheeple and citys, towns and local municipalitys to buy this crap.

    • January 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      The plan is to get all of the LEOs and Gang to use TETRA band trunks, which cause great amounts of cancer in the users.

      Just another small step to reduce the pop to around 2 billion, as clearly stated at TEDx recently, and much much longer ago in the histories of our corrupt world.

      The Elite have no love for LEOs; they are viewed as disposable pigs unfit for real political pull.

  3. subrosa
    January 8, 2012 at 1:04 am

    I guess it’s OK for the police to listen in on encrypted cellphone traffic, but if you listen to their public broadcast, with frequencies in a PUBLIC FCC database it is somehow wrong. I won’t listen to them when they keep their radio signals out of my yard.

  4. Dred Scott
    February 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    I can’t agree more with the above comments. As long as we pay taxes to support PD & FD, we should be able to monitor them. They know people are listening, either with a scanner or now, with smartphone apps. Locally, cops and FD go to their cell phones when they want privacy leaving “most” routine comms in the clear. The way it should be if they have nothing to hide.

  5. z00m
    April 25, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I have an ideal for a police scanner, it incorporate the exact technologies with GPS technology and give the possessor a monitor to watch different cars passing by in traffic giving off these signals example: monitors a 4 block radius red dot on the screen represents possible police signal blue strange car misc signal and white the possessor of the device

  6. A Stranger in a Strange Land
    August 12, 2013 at 1:31 am

    Oh boo hoo. One little thread of citizen accountability and the BIG BAD BRAVE MEN IN BLUE get all hysterical.

    But their snooping on our every word uttered or written … well that’s for OUR SAFETY!!

  7. Mark
    September 26, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Tough luck. The air is “free”, along with anything broadcast over it.

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