GREENSBORO — The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office is getting a new “armored critical incident vehicle” to help deputies more safely storm buildings and confront armed suspects.
The county Board of Commissioners approved the $295,000 purchase Thursday of a ROOK Tactical Vehicle that moves on tracks like a military carrier to provide an armored shield against opposing gunfire.
“As our society grows more violent and the public attitude towards authority figures degrades, our officers are going to be in more peril in the months and years to come,” Sheriff Danny Rogers said in a written statement accompanying the proposal.
“The ROOK is a piece of equipment that is heavily armored and because of its tracked design, is able to respond into the yards of residences where traditional vehicles may get stuck,” the sheriff added.
Commissioners approved the purchase without discussion Thursday on their “consent agenda,” for which the board casts one vote approving multiple items deemed routine and not controversial,
The vote authorized the use of federal money forfeited in drug cases to make the purchase. The seized money can only be used for law enforcement purchases.
Rogers said in his statement supporting the transaction that in recent years, his department “has seen an increase in violence directed at officers, mainly during barricaded stand-off situations.”
He said deputies have responded to at least seven such situations in the last three years, during which “suspects fired shots in an attempt to injure officers.”
Three of those incidents left a total of five officers wounded, one seriously enough that the officer is still recovering eight months later, Rogers said.
“During this hours-long standoff, the subject again fired from inside his house,” the sheriff said of the October encounter from which the officer is still recuperating. “While officers were attempting to enter his residence to take the subject into custody, two officers were shot.”
The new vehicle would give law enforcement the upper hand in such situations with “an armored platform which can carry officers safely into a scene and even raise them high enough to enter a second-story window,” Rogers said.
In response to a question from the News & Record, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Lori Poag said Friday that the “tactical vehicle won’t be used during protest” like unrest that Greensboro has experienced recently.
The department’s new “armored Caterpillar multi-terrain loader” will come equipped with:
- A $53,400 armored personnel platform with “video monitoring, eight shooting ports, Ballistic Glass (and an) adjustable, sliding front door.”
- A $22,000 breaching ram with four, low-light video cameras and a “tactical non-lethal chemical agent delivery system.”
- A $4,300 grapple claw that can lift up to 4,500 pounds for “use in removing fortified doors, burglar bars or exterior shrubbery.”
- A $3,500 extraction tool “designed to move or immobilize vehicles or move obstructions.”
The sheriff said in his written statement that the ROOK also makes sense economically. He noted that when all is said and done, the department’s recent shooting incidents could end up costing the county just less than $474,000 in medical and other claimed benefits.
Rogers said the new vehicle also would be available for other police agencies to use “on a call-out basis.” He noted that both Greensboro and High Point police departments have shared equipment with the sheriff’s office.
Although the board did not discuss the purchase in public Thursday, Commissioner Melvin “Skip” Alston said he looked into it before the meeting and satisfied himself it made sense.
“I had questions about it at first, but then it was explained to me why it was needed,” Alston said.
Alston said the vehicle will protect officers as well as suspects and bystanders by giving deputies a better option than simply “kicking down the door.”
“It’s intended to help them save lives and be able to do what they need to do,” Alston said.