Inside 'The Rook' -- an armoured vehicle SWAT teams use to tear through vehicles, block an active shooter, or bust through a riot

Dozens of defence contractors showed off their latest gear and technology at the annual International Police Chief Association conference and exhibition this past week in Philadelphia. 

Everything from lethal and non-lethal weapons, body armour, drones, policing software, uniforms, and even vehicles were on display, including a new armoured vehicle called “The Rook.”

The Rook, designed by Ring Power Corporation, a heavy equipment company that modifies vehicles, is essentially an armoured Caterpillar vehicle that has been modified for SWAT and other police units. 

It comes with four attachments and can be used for all kinds of scenarios, including hostage rescue, barricaded suspects, riots, and natural disasters.

At least 25 different police departments across the US have purchased one, and many more are interested, a Ring Power Corporation sales manager, Shaun Mitchell, told Business Insider Tuesday. 

Check it out below:

 

The Rook is built off a Caterpillar chassis that has been modified with armour, night vision, thermal imaging, multiple cameras, a wireless remote control and four attachments.

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The Rook is named after the chess piece, meaning checkmate, Miller said.

It was designed by a man named Jeremy Eckdahl about 10 years ago, but wasn't marketed much until Ring Power Corporation bought the design 5 years ago.

Daniel Brown/Business Insider

Source: Shaun Mitchell, Ring Power Corporation.

It retails for about $US315,000 and has been sold to 25 police departments so far

Daniel Brown/Business Insider

The Rook was even used by the San Bernardino Police to take down Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the married couple who carried out the terrorist attack in 2015.

Here are some other police departments using The Rook:

  • New York Police Department
  • New Mexico State Police
  • Albuquerque Police
  • Pennsylvania State Police
  • Mississippi State Police
  • Jacksonville Police
  • Boca Raton Police

Here's a shot of San Bernardino Police taking down Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik with The Rook.

Screenshot/Inside Edition

The driver operates the The Rook with the joysticks inside.

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Here's a view from the inside.

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It comes with an armoured hatch allowing the operator to escape above if needed.

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The Rook comes with four attachments, seen in the brochure below.

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One of the attachments is the armoured deployment platform.

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Up to four officers can stand behind the shield, which also has a sliding door so that officers can enter a structure once breached.

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It has two locking gun ports, four sliding gun ports and four bullet proof glass sight ports.

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Here's what the deployment platform looks like when attached to the Caterpillar.

Ring Power Tactical Solutions

It can even be raised almost 4 metres into the air, allowing officers to enter buildings from the first and second floors.

Ring Power Tactical Solutions

Before the shield is implemented, however, The Rook uses another attachment, the hydraulic breaching ram, seen below, to breach the structure.

Ring Power Tactical Solutions

The breaching ram delivers 6500 psi of pressure, and is able to break through block walls, reinforced steel doors, wood and concrete.

The Rook also comes with a vehicle extraction tool, which can move or immobilize a vehicles.

Ring Power Tactical Solutions

The last attachment is the grapple claw, which can remove fortified doors and burglar bars and even be used to remove debris from natural disasters.

Ring Power Tactical Solutions

When asked if this vehicle would lead to the further militarisation of police departments, Miller said that it doesn't contain any weapons and simply protects officers, even more so than riot shields.

Scott Olson/Getty
Police force protestors from the business district into nearby neighbourhoods on August 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

But University of Tampa Professor Abigail Hall, author of the forthcoming book 'Tyranny Comes Home: The Domestic Fate of U.S. Militarism,' told Business Insider that it really depends on how law enforcement agencies use it.

Hall said that new equipment like The Rook is often 'introduced under the auspices of making police safer,' but in reality can incentivise 'police to engage in more aggressive behaviour.'

Ultimately, Hall said, 'this type of equipment is very much in line with the recent trend of police being armed with military style equipment.'

In late August, President Donald Trump announced that he would roll back regulations, imposed by former President Barack Obama, on certain kinds of military equipment and weapons that police departments could receive from the military.

Obama signed the executive order in 2015 because
he worried that certain weapons and equipment, including armoured tracked vehicles, could create an 'us versus them' mentality, like the events in Ferguson, Missouri.

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