Newbie question on scanning first responder conversations

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Mobilman44

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I have a Uniden 436 scanner and live just north of Houston in Harris county. I can nicely pick up all the first responder dispatch announcements and direct replies, but have never been able to pick up conversations between units. In example, when there is an event and an officer communicates with another officer, etc.

Is this just not possible, or am I missing something..........

Thank you!
Mobilman44 - Bill Anderson
 
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Is this just not possible, or am I missing something........
The conversations you are most likely to hear go through a repeater. A Centrally located transmitter.

When the units talk to each other, they are talking radio to radio, so you are out of range.

Or, if they are talking on a dedicated talk group for unit-to-unit, you don't have it programmed in
 

ScubaJungle

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1. Make sure you have ID search on. I learned that when I got my 436.
2. Some agencies don't use these much. In my area, they dont really have car-to-car, besides for detectives
 

magiclightman

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In my area, we have the trunked system for dispatch and county communications as well as unit to unit when responding, but once on the fireground at an incident, we switch over to a talk around simplex frequency.
 

marksmith

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The other issue, if you programmed with Sentinel, is that you have all of the frequencies and channels entered, but the channels you are missing are encrypted.

Carefully reviewing the database channels will show you which are encrypted and which are not.

Some agencies. Like police tend to be more enthusiastic about encryption, while fire and other agencies might not.
 

magiclightman

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The other issue, if you programmed with Sentinel, is that you have all of the frequencies and channels entered, but the channels you are missing are encrypted.

Carefully reviewing the database channels will show you which are encrypted and which are not.

Some agencies. Like police tend to be more enthusiastic about encryption, while fire and other agencies might not.

Exactly, Fire is completely clear here, and PD dispatch is clear, but PD unit to unit and PD tactical channels are encrypted, which you wouldn't hear.
 

hiegtx

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I have a Uniden 436 scanner and live just north of Houston in Harris county. I can nicely pick up all the first responder dispatch announcements and direct replies, but have never been able to pick up conversations between units. In example, when there is an event and an officer communicates with another officer, etc.

Is this just not possible, or am I missing something..........

Thank you!
Mobilman44 - Bill Anderson
Bill

Which agency are you primarily interested in? I see, from past posts, that you are in the Spring, TX vicinity.

As already noted, many of the law enforcement talkgroups in the Houston/Harris County area are encrypted. While dispatch may be in the clear, most everything else, especially in Houston, is encrypted, which cannot be received by any scanner.
In my area, we have the trunked system for dispatch and county communications as well as unit to unit when responding, but once on the fireground at an incident, we switch over to a talk around simplex frequency.
A simplex frequency is a possibility, but there is another avenue of approach. It's at least possible, that occasionally one or more of the calls might be what Uniden terms as an I-Call. That is a conversation between specific units, which is not heard on one of the programmed talkgroups. Instead, the conversation is only between the participants and is not heard by other officers. If you use ID-Search, as suggested by ScubaJungle, you might hear them. Or, you can program a wildcard specifically for these. See this Wiki page for more:
 

DeeCeee

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I have a Uniden 436 scanner and live just north of Houston in Harris county. I can nicely pick up all the first responder dispatch announcements and direct replies, but have never been able to pick up conversations between units. In example, when there is an event and an officer communicates with another officer, etc.

Is this just not possible, or am I missing something..........

Thank you!
Mobilman44 - Bill Anderson

If you are scanning any of the county agencies such as SO or Constables then you will need to program in their tac channels. Actually, little of Harris County traffic is currently encrypted except for narcotics and swat etc. Also, car to car simplex use is rare. Get those tac and mutual aid channels in and you will get a lot of what you are looking for..........
 

Mobilman44

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Thank you all! I really appreciate your knowledge and willingness to share. I'll check into those tac and mutual aid channels and see what I can come up with.

Stay safe,

Mobilman44
 

tunnelmot

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Conroe checking in...

If you're in Harris County, almost all back channels are clear (incl. Contables)
If you're in Montgomery County, SOME PDs are open and most MCSO back/TACs/chit chat are encrypted.
If you're primarily Houston, pretty much all but dispatch is encrypted.

Don't be discouraged. Most of what we can hear will net you most of your information. What you can't monitor may be juicy, but makes up little of the day-to-day goings-on. Most subscriber units never stray off their designated dispatch talkgroups.
 
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