There’s never been a better time to follow police scanners. That’s because new technology is giving us more access to what’s being said on police scanner feeds. For example:

  • The Website Broadcastify.com offers audio streams of more than 35-hundred police, public safety, and emergency services feeds – which you can follow online, or with a smartphone app.

  • And a growing number of neighborhood watch groups are setting up Twitter accounts, where volunteers type out what they hear on police scanners – as it happens.

Why follow a police scanner? Experts say most people want to find out what’s happening in their community, and stay up-to-date on the latest crime sprees, car chases, and weather emergencies. But some people tune-in just to follow the real-life drama, as it unfolds. For example: Broadcastify reported a surge in traffic as people followed the events of the recent Boston Marathon bombings, and the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas.

How do police feel about us eavesdropping on their work? Most police departments say they welcome the public involvement because the more eyes and ears they have on the ground, the better.

The problem is that many times, the earliest information broadcast on a police scanner is wrong. And police worry that if people start spreading bad information to the public, it could lead to panic, confusion, or cases of mistaken identity.

Plus, if you and I can follow a police scanner – that means criminals can too.

That’s why mobile scanners are illegal in some cities, and why Broadcastify time-delays all their feeds, and bans people from streaming “sensitive” feeds – like SWAT, narcotics, or federal government channels.

So if you’re tuning into a police scanner, or reading a twitter feed, keep in mind that everything being broadcast may not be accurate.