El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office adds tactical tool

Noel Stack / Mountain Democrat
EDSO has been authorized to purchase a Rook Armored Critical Incident Vehicle, seen here with the armored personnel platform attachment. Funding for most of the $520,000 purchase comes from the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians.
Provided/Ring Power Corporation

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office will have to make more room in its garage after getting the go-ahead to purchase a $520,000 Rook Armored Critical Incident Vehicle.

The modified Caterpillar with a cab has ballistic resistant glass and NIJ certified level IV armor. It can be operated by a driver or remotely and accessories include a hydraulic breaching ram fitted with low-light cameras that provide a 360-degree field of vision, a grapple claw with 4,500 pounds of lift capacity, a vehicle extraction tool designed to move or immobilize vehicles/obstructions and an armored personnel platform with eight shooting ports, ballistic glass and the ability to extend to upper levels of a two- or three-story building. The vehicle also comes with a custom transport trailer plus a 24-month total machine warranty in the vehicle and a 12-month warranty on the attachments and accessories.

The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians will fund 96% of the cost with the other 4% coming from an EDSO special revenue fund.

“They agreed to pay for it because they saw a need for public safety reasons,” county Chief Administrative Officer Don Ashton told the Board of Supervisors at its Aug. 16 meeting.

The supervisors approved the purchase 4-0 as part of its consent calendar but not before some residents questioned the need for the military-style piece of equipment.

“The first thing that I thought of is the Sears wish book,” said Joe Connolly of Diamond Springs, who noted El Dorado County’s low crime rate. “It seems kind of frivolous and unnecessary.”

Online commenter Ruth Michelson said she’d like to see “thorough justification for needing that (vehicle) in a rural county.”

Speaking on the phone, Sheriff John D’Agostini explained the vehicle’s versatility gives it the ability to aid law enforcement in many different situations.

“There are many times, just in the recent past, that I can describe where this would have been an extremely valuable tool,” D’Agostini said, sharing as an example, “When we had Highway 50 shut down … with a subject that was barricading himself inside the vehicle, we could literally have just picked the pickup up and moved it and reopened the highway and then dealt with the subject in a more safe manner.”

The vehicle and its breaching ram would have come in handy during an incident in Cameron Park, the sheriff continued, as it would have allowed law enforcement a safer way to subdue a subject. D’Agostini also lauded the remote-control capability of the vehicle, explaining, “We can actually use it without having to put personnel in harm’s way.”

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