A powerful app for mission planning
Tactical Police Table is an application for the iPhone and iPad that allows you to quickly create a scenario with drawings and illustrations, and then share it with your unit. Chief developer of Tactical Police Table Michael Mehlberg said the app’s main uses are to draw mission planning scenarios and training scenarios, or to conduct after action reviews.
The app is extremely easy to use. Upon opening the app, click the opening screen to proceed. To begin creating your first Tactical Table, click on the plus sign on the top right hand corner of the next screen. Let’s select Google Map as an example.
Your current location will pop up on a map, or you can enter the address of a desired location.
The bottom right corner reveals a “Controls” icon; clicking on it will reveal several icons across the bottom of the screen. Those will give you options to create your scenario—from a pencil to highlighters, to items such as fences, tree lines, roads, lakes, rocks, etc.
The silhouette icon offers options such as a police officer, a squad car, a SWAT vehicle, a police helicopter, etc. You can also add things like guns, footsteps or blood to your scenario. Playing around with the options will reveal the many other items available.
The unexpected playback feature is more than just a nice touch. When you finish “drawing” your scenario, close out of the table you’ve just created; this will shrink the table and reveal a menu with picture commands that include the triangle “play” button. Clicking “play” starts playing back your scenario piece by piece.
You can now e-mail the scenario to any other Tactical Police Table user, and they can watch it, edit it if they wish, and send it back. You also can take screenshots of any scene in your scenario and e-mail them or text them to anyone—whether or not they have the app.
“Sharing is the number one most requested feature of this app,” Mehlberg said, who has continued to update the app based on user input for the 18 months since its release. The “unlimited undo” when drawing your scenario is a close second favorite feature for users.
Other mission planning features include streamlined interface for fast scenario development, video output on iPhone and iPad (for collaborative mission planning), ability to load your own maps (from photo library or iPhone camera) and draw your plan directly on it, as well as available concrete, grass or Google Maps backgrounds. The app also allows weather description for outdoor situations.
Mehlberg said he will continue to improve the app as he gets more feedback from users. Features to come include the ability to measure distances, draw shapes like triangles and circles that are perfect shapes (vs. current ability to draw shapes with your finger), and a perimeter option that would allow the creation of a circle with a line from the center to the outside of the circle (radius) showing distance.
The app costs $9.99, and can be downloaded to the user’s iPhone and iPad after being purchased just once. “It’s great if you have an iPhone, but the iPad really makes it shine,” Mehlberg said.
Advancements in technology have brought more options into the hands of all first responders. Smart phones and tablets coupled with applications have made their jobs easier—and powerful and useful apps like Tactical Police Table are the future tools for police officers.
Yesenia Salcedo is the former managing editor of Tactical Response magazine. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.