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Local police departments roll out smartphone apps

Two Rogue Valley police departments debuted smartphone apps this past month, giving residents who download the free programs the ability to submit tips to detectives or stay up on departmental news and events.

Medford and Central Point police have released apps, available for free on Apple, Android or Windows devices. Department officials said it was a natural next step, as they all have wide followings on social media.

"We already have Facebook, Instagram, all that," said Central Point police Capt. David Croft. "It's just another commitment to engage with the community in a timely manner through our social media."

App users can submit reports about ordinance violations with photos, report suspicious activity and provide crime tips. They can also receive push-notification bulletins on missing persons, wanted subjects, vehicle crashes and other emergency-related updates. Users can remain anonymous if they wish, Croft said.

Ashland police launched a similar app in May, the same month that Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon debuted a service called "Text-to-911" that gives callers the ability to text 911 dispatch when they are unable to make the actual call.

"For most things these days, there's an app for that," said Medford police Deputy Chief Brett Johnson. "It helped streamline getting people to where they need to go."

LogicTree IT Solutions designed the apps for the departments. They have designed similar ones for Oregon police agencies in Tualatin, Sandy, Woodburn, St. Helens, Sherwood, Seaside, Prineville and Junction City, along with Ashland's, according to the Apple App Store. The Central Point app has been downloaded more than 300 times, with about 1,000 for Medford, officials said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.