The police scanner, also known as the police radio, or police dispatch, is featured in every Grand Theft Auto game since the first, with the exception of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, and Grand Theft Auto Online.
Upon gaining a wanted level, the dispatch will go off, which the player can hear. The police will announce the crime being committed, and will announce the player's location, saying something along the lines of "We have a (codename of crime) in north, west, etc. (location)". If the player is fleeing in a vehicle, the dispatch will say something such as: "Suspect last seen in a (color of car) (type of car)". These types of lines stuck with most GTA games, with a different voice of a policeman/woman in each game. For unknown reasons, in GTA: LCS and GTA: VCS, the dispatch will not play at all, suggesting the police scanner was dropped during development of the games.
Grand Theft Auto IV
In Grand Theft Auto IV, the police scanner has changed dynamically. Now, the dispatch will say how many police cars will be dispatched to the crime scene ("Dispatch (number of units) units from (location)", "Dispatch air unit from (location)"), etc. Also, the dispatch will no longer use codenames (such as 10-92, 10-24, etc.), instead, announcing the actual name of the crime (reckless driver, helicopter down, shots fired, Grand Theft Auto, etc.). In some missions, the dispatch will say unique lines, such as the crimes Niko Bellic commits in missions such as Final Interview and Three Leaf Clover (in the latter, the dispatch's dialogue is the longest in the entire game, describing the robbery at the Bank of Liberty, and how the suspects are armed and dangerous). The same dispatch is reused in The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, with some new dialogue recorded exclusively for the two episodes. If Luis Fernando Lopez causes trouble at any of the two nightclubs in Algonquin, the dispatch will announce a "disturbance at the nightclub in Westminster/Purgatory". The police scanner is also absent in GTA: Chinatown Wars, although this was probably because of the hardware limitations.
Grand Theft Auto V
The police scanner reappears in Grand Theft Auto V, with updated dialogue from the new female dispatch operator. Like other games, the dispatch will use codenames, and will announce the location of the player. It will also announce the units dispatched to the crime scene. The player can now hear dialogue from the helicopter pilots, which will say lines like "Air support en route!" The pilots will also announce if the player is in their sight or not. The police scanner is absent once again in Grand Theft Auto Online, possibly due to the many players online at the same time. However, the police scanner could be heard again during heists.
Unique Dispatch Calls
The police scanner has several unique dispatch calls only occurring within missions in certain games.
Grand Theft Auto III
- The Getaway:
- "All units, armed bank raid is in progress at Bank of Liberty, Chinatown."
- "Four-five to all units: Assist narcotics raid Atlantic Quays."
- Two-Faced Tanner:
- "Undercover officer requesting immediate backup and clean underwear, cover blown."
- Kanbu Bust-out:
- "Terrorist attack on police headquarters, all units respond immediately."
- Plaster Blaster:
- "Call out to all units: he's taken the bait. Shoot to kill, repeat, shoot to kill."
- Waka-Gashira Wipeout!:
- "Call all units, gunfire reported in the Multistorey Car Park in Newport."
- "All units be on lookout for Securicar in Pike Creek area. Suspect is armed and dangerous."
Grand Theft Auto V
- Franklin and Lamar :
- "Attention, Downtown units, we have a 510 in progress. Suspects fleeing the Union Depository parking lot in sports cars. Vehicles are reported stolen."
- "Officers have lost sight of the suspects. Code 4, all units return to patrol."
- The Long Stretch:
- "We've got a 415 in Roger's Salvation and Scrap. Three black male adults sighted exiting the building. Air unit at the scene. Requesting backup."
- Carbine Rifles:
- "Dispatch reporting a 503. Suspect is in control of an LSPD tactical unit vehicle. Requesting air and ground units to intercept.
- BZ Gas Grenades:
- (if vehicle is stolen) "Humane Labs and Research reported a vehicle hijacking. Be advised, ? transporting hazardous material."
- (if only the BZ Gas was stolen) "Attention all units, civilians reporting a 983. Suspect in possession of prohibited chemicals. Code 3, proceed with caution."
- Bugstars Equipment:
- "We have a 503 at Bugstars Pest Control on Elysium Island. White male adult seen fleeing the area. ATL, a light blue Declasse van."
- The Jewel Store Job:
- "Reported jewel store robbery at Vangelico in Rockford Hills. Three suspects on dirt bikes, heading east on Eastbourne Way."
- "Suspects sighted entering construction entrance on the Del Perro Freeway. Do not pursue, hold for possible exit points."
- "Jewel store robbery suspects have emerged into the LS River. Officers in pursuit, request assistance."
- Hood Safari:
- "We got a 415 on Grove Street in Davis. Members of the Ballas gang involved, deadly force is authorized."
- Dead Man Walking:
- "Requesting backup for a possible national security threat at Strawberry coroner's office. Suspect is a white male adult. IAA has authorized the use of lethal force."
- The Paleto Score (possibly unused):
- "All Paleto units, special instructions. Piggy bank is broken, repeat, broken. All units respond, Code 99."
- "Citizens reporting a 503 at Paleto Bay PCC construction site. Possible suspect seen heading west in a bulldozer."
- Pack Man:
- "Dispatch special surveillance units. Suspects last seen in a vehicle transporter. Officers have identified the Pegassi. Other vehicles on board suspected stolen."
- Legal Trouble:
- "Attention, La Puerta units: Requesting a VIP escort for Miss Molly Schultz. Destination is the east hangar at Los Santos International [Airport]. Requesting ground and air units, Code 3."
- The Big Score (Obvious) :
- "Calling all units, we have a 211 at the Union Depository. Two suspects with civilians inside. Possible hostage situation."
- "Redirecting N.O.O.S.E. unit to the vault. Possible accomplices have gained access through construction site. Use of deadly force is authorized."
- "Attention ground and air units: Suspects engaging officers on the west side of the Union Depository. Requesting immediate backup."
- "All units be advised: Three heavily-armed suspects sighted entering the parking garage at the Arcadius business center. Officers requesting assistance."
- The Big Score (Subtle):
- "Calling all units: Merryweather PMC reports Union Depository suspects seen leaving the Vanilla Unicorn parking lot in four muscle cars."
- The Third Way:
- (Upon killing Haines) "Requesting backup for a 187 at Del Perro Pier. Victim reported as FIB Agent Steve Haines. Proceed with caution, suspect is a possible 918 Victor."
- The voice-over of the police scanner depends on the location of the game and setting; for example, in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, the voice-over appears to be done by a Latina woman with an accent (a reference to Vice City's large Hispanic population, much like its real equivalent Miami), while the voice-over in Grand Theft Auto IV sounds more like a middle-aged white male with a deep New York accent.
- In some games, the police scanner files reference places that do not appear in the game. For example, in GTA V, some of the files reference Majestic County, and Ventura County. It is possible that those were the original names for Los Santos and Blaine counties, but they were changed in the final release of the game.
- When announcing a vehicle description, the dispatch operator will often use Hedges (using "um"s and "ahh"s) as if trying to interpret a description from an eye witness, for example "Suspect is in a uh... white Albany Emperor". This was likely done so recordings are shorter and take up less space on the disk/user's hard drive, and to reduce the need for the repetition of vehicle/location names.
- The police radio band that plays whenever the player is in a police vehicle in Grand Theft Auto is reused in Grand Theft Auto 2, and some of the dialogue is briefly reused in GTA III, albeit much shorter, with the addition of some new dialogue. However, the police radio does not constantly play, only every few seconds will a line be played. This is a generic police radio track, used in countless films, series and games ("5 George K, number 30 Broad street" is said in the track). GTA London 1969 was the first Grand Theft Auto game to not reuse this generic police radio track, instead having its own unique police radio created specially for the game, with appropriate elements like the use of British accents and references to locations in London. However, this practice would not be repeated until Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Since GTA Vice City, all the games that have included a police radio have used an original track created for that game.
- In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the dispatchers will insult one another when making calls.
- In GTA: San Andreas, a unique police scanner sound can be heard in High Noon inside the Police Car owned by C.R.A.S.H..
- The police dispatch in the PlayStation 2 version of Grand Theft Auto III is less distorted than in other versions of the game.
- The police dispatch in Grand Theft Auto Advance is recycled from Grand Theft Auto III, although at times it could repeat the same thing, and could even mix up the lines, such as mixing up the code-name of the crime with what vehicle the player is driving or if he/she is on foot (ex. the dispatch may say "We got a - Suspect is on foot! - in east Aspatria"). Notice the dispatch does not announce the crime, instead announcing that the player is on foot. The dispatch may even go off to crimes that Mike is not committing, but other crimes in the vicinity.
- The dispatch operator seems to go off less in GTA: San Andreas than its predecessors, only going off after the player earns a wanted level star. The dispatch will say "Respond to a (code or crime) in north, east, etc. (name of district the player is in)", then will immediately say "Suspect last seen on foot/Suspect last seen in a (color of vehicle) (type of vehicle)". Although these same lines are used in GTA III and GTA: San Andreas, the dispatch operator is less repetitive.
- The 10-codes used in the PC, Xbox, and mobile versions of GTA Vice City are different from those used on the PS2 and PS4 versions, with 10-codes for crimes on police now being used as 10-codes for crimes on civilians. The dispatch operator also now calls out aircraft destruction as a "10-VICE CITY" (e.g. "There's a 10-VICE CITY in central Escobar International.").
- On the mobile versions of the game, the dispatch operator speaks at a slower speed.
- In Franklin and Lamar a unique dispatch call can be heard saying "Officers have lost sight of the suspect, code 4, all units return to patrol." This is heard when Franklin loses the cops after the race with Lamar.
- In Grand Theft Auto V, the woman will either describe the vehicle, or call the vehicle by its manufacturer and its model. She incorrectly describes The Liberator as a 'white' vehicle, likely due to white being the base color of the vehicle, despite the vehicle being mostly blue.
- In GTA V, the dispatch operator may even describe/say the names of the three protagonists (ex. "Suspect is a young African-American male/Suspect is Franklin Clinton"), however, she incorrectly says Michael De Santa's last name as "De Santo".
- In GTA Online, the scanner can sometimes be heard activating, but the operator nor the deactivating scanner FX isn’t heard after the sound plays. This is most likely to be a glitch.