Recent statistics reveal that criminals are more willing to engage in violence toward law enforcement and are doing so
at greater frequency and with increased lethality. Officers and deputies performing traffic stops, answering routine calls or serving warrants are facing an increasing number of unexpected threats of deadly force. One of the latest, most innovative devices derived from Caterpillar, which makes some of the most dependable work vehicles in the world, is the Rook. It is a small, tracked, armored critical-incident vehicle designed to allow law enforcement the ability to approach, observe, breach and deliver operators to a structure when the threat risk would preclude sending in officers or a special response team.
A recent example of the Rook’s effectiveness took place late at night, in a shooting where the Jacksonville, Florida, Sheriff’s Office had identified but was unable to capture the felon. After fleeing to a house in nearby Fruit Cove, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team responded to the house and attempted to contact the armed suspect, who refused to talk or surrender. To lessen the chance that anybody, including the shooter, would be injured in a standard SWAT entry, the team used its new Rook as an armored entry vehicle, approaching and breaching the structure at multiple locations, which enabled the team to dispense tear gas throughout the structure. The shooter now had no place to hide.
Historically, armor, even something as small as the Rook, is very intimidating to individuals in combat, and the same was true of this incident in Florida. As the Rook took apart his cover piece by piece, the 38-year-old man was eventually found hiding in the attic. He was taken into custody, with nobody sustaining any injuries—a perfect ending.
The Rook is custom-designed and fabricated by Ring Power, the North and Central Florida Caterpillar dealer. The Rook uses the powerful Caterpillar 287C Multi-Terrain Loader, has a 84-gross-horsepower engine and weighs 13,000 pounds. It features rugged, wide rubber tracks, dual joystick controls and an enclosed cab with air conditioning and heat. The operator’s comfort seat is protected by custom-installed bulletproof glass and NIJ Level IV armor cab-reinforcement fabrication…