Illustration by Louise Leong.

The Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) recently released a new iPhone application to the Santa Cruz community. It is the first consumer-based iPhone application released from any city police department across the nation.

From 2009 to 2010, homicides and other crimes like burglary, robbery and aggravated assault saw a noticeable rise. With this new application, the SCPD seeks to curtail the rise in crime in Santa Cruz by giving users a mobile option to report crimes, making tip submission easy and mobile.

After downloading the free application from Apple’s App Store, users have access to the SCPD’s scanner feed, crime maps, new departmental blog, crime alerts and mug shots. Users are able to submit anonymous tips when they see a crime committed by simply sending a direct email to the police department through the application.

“This mobile application will give our community a remarkable amount of information in the palm of their hand,” said Santa Cruz police chief Kevin Vogel.

With over 50 million iPhones sold as of March 2010, the iPhone is one of the most popular cellphones on the market.

“I see tons of iPhones everywhere every day on campus,” said Kelly Watson, a Porter College second-year and iPhone enthusiast.

Watson said she feels more able to help the community with SCPD’s new iPhone application, since she can now submit anonymous tips and see photos of suspected criminals at all times.

Many people on campus have iPhones. The iPhone makes up 18 percent of the cellphone market, and a whopping 38 percent of the smartphone market in the US. Santa Cruz has no fewer than nine cell phone stores in the immediate area. Students can even buy an iPhone at the UC Santa Cruz campus’ Bay Tree Bookstore.

The application was produced by EZ Axess, Inc. CEOs Kushyar Kasraie and Jamieson Johnson, both recent UCSC alumni, have been creating community-based applications together since they were students. Other applications created by EZ Axess include UCSC’s campus map application, Kasraie and Johnson’s first creation.

“When we first started reaching out to UCSC, the idea of iPhone apps was still something very new to people,” Kasraie said.

Cody Delaney, a Porter second-year, said he is most impressed by the forward thinking of the SCPD and the city of Santa Cruz.

“This could be cool,” Delaney said upon viewing the application. “This could be helpful.”

The SCPD has expressed an interest in open communication with the Santa Cruz community to successfully enforce the law.

“Law enforcement needs to make their information as transparent and readily accessible as possible to meet the expectations of our communities,” Vogel said. “It is an essential part towards ensuring greater access to our department. This easy-to-use interface will provide an unprecedented amount of information to the consumer, regardless of where they are in the world.”

The next move will be for the application to support the Droid platform as well other smartphone application networks. EZ Axess plans to release this version over the coming months.

Kasraie praised the SCPD’s efforts to connect with the community.

“We genuinely believe that SCPD has set a new standard in terms of transparency and community engagement.”