The Charleston Police Department and Charleston County Sheriff's Office now have smartphone applications to share information with residents, the agencies announced Wednesday.

Tip guidelines

Following are examples of how the tip features should be used:

Appropriate Tips:

Provide information about drug dealers in your neighborhood.

Provide information about a wanted individual.

Provide information on a crime that patrol officers or detectives may need.

Use 911 to:

Report an emergency.

Report a reckless or suspected drunk driver.

Report a domestic dispute.

Report any issue that needs immediate officer assistance.

Source: Charleston County Sheriff's Office

Free for people with Apple iPhones and phones with the Google Android operating system, the apps allow users to give tips anonymously, commend a police officer, ask questions, send photos of crime problems and find agency phone numbers.

Police spokesman Charles Francis said the department will send important alerts through the app, which also will display information from agency Facebook and Twitter accounts.

But the app isn't for emergencies, Francis said. People in need of immediate police assistance should call 911, he explained.

Chief Greg Mullen said the app is easy to use and was designed for the people whom the department serves.

"I believe in using all available opportunities to stay engaged with our citizens and keeping them informed," Mullen said in a statement.

Maj. Eric Watson, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said the agency's app also offers residents the opportunity to interact with deputies through tips, photos and social media. It includes a jail inmate search feature, crime maps and a Most Wanted list.

Watson reiterated the need to use the app for non-emergency information.

"The app allows individuals to provide information to deputies, and the deputies will have an opportunity to follow up on the tip," Watson said. "Users should be aware that the reply may not be immediate and that the app is not for real-time issues."

The agencies join the Mount Pleasant Police Department in offering a smartphone app. Mount Pleasant released its version in September, and officers frequently use it to update residents on traffic problems.

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or