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Sacramento police use US anti-terrorism funds to pay for armored vehicle 'The Rook'

City officials say the about $440,000 armored vehicle purchase will come from a federal security grant—which makes 'The Rook' accessible to other agencies.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — More than one week has passed since Sacramento City Councilmembers voted 7-2 to allow the police department's purchase of a third armored vehicle, and now officials are sharing more details.

They said the $440,000 purchase of 'The Rook' armored response vehicle will be of no cost to the city of Sacramento. They are relying on a federal grant established in the wake of 9/11 meant to combat terrorism.

According to FEMA, at least 30% of Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant money received by law enforcement agencies must be used for terrorism prevention training.

A Sacramento Police Department spokesperson told ABC10 'The Rook' is capable of responding to incidents of domestic terrorism and satisfies the grant's stipulations.

"Moreover, the grant has funded training classes on citizen preparedness, advanced leadership, the Incident Management Team, hazardous materials, tactical medical rescue, and critical incident response, among others," said a police spokesperson.

Also as part of the UASI grant, Sacramento police will share the armored vehicle with nearby agencies upon request.

"Since 2019, the Sacramento Police Department has requested assistance from the Sheriff’s Office and its Rook 13 times. During three of those incidents, the Rook did not arrive in time to be used," said a Sacramento city spokesperson.

Police Chief Kathy Lester also said the armored vehicle will not be used at protests or for encampment clean ups.

The vehicle is close to 10-feet long, 7-feet high and 6.5-feet wide, and it resembles a bulldozer. It is manufactured by the Florida-based company Ring Power.

"The Rook comes with different attachments for the front, such as a claw device that can remove fortified doors or bars from windows and an “armored deployment platform” which can be raised several feet so officers can be protected while accessing a building’s second story," said a city spokesperson.

According to Sacramento police, they already have guidelines and a policy in place for the deployment of armored vehicles. The rules state:

  • Armored vehicles shall not be used for routine patrol or day-to-day operations
  • Their use may only be authorized by a watch commander
  • Use must be based on specific circumstances of a critical incident
  • Critical incidents must involve actual, threatened or suspected violence related to loss of life or serious bodily injury

But members of the Sacramento Community Police Review Commission say they'd like to work with the department to update the policy surrounding armored vehicle use.

"Our commission as a whole are still actually waiting for the Sacramento Police Department to provide an update on where the military equipment use policy (progress) is at following its passage back on September 13, 2022," commissioner Keyan Bliss told ABC10.

WATCH MORE: Interview | Sacramento Community Police Review commissioner opposes armored vehicle

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