Peaceful gatherings of locals demonstrating—for or against—a public policy or decision is a healthy form of venting pent up pressure. The protest, depending on its size, intensity and duration can be a real measure of public sentiment and can help a government or institution guide and shape its future decisions.
The challenge can come when the “intensity” become physical with violence and confrontation becoming inevitable. A heavy handed show of force by military troops and combat-type vehicles and equipment will sometimes escalate a situation simply by being seen by the protestors. When bullets are sometimes the only tools that a response force has at its disposal, it may seem like the only decision is to fire—with disastrous results in some cases.
Crowd control vehicles have become part of an overall approach that gives law enforcement more tools to disarm a situation and breakup gatherings if they reach a point where control is in jeopardy. The have the physical size to intimidate when necessary, plus they bring a variety of non-lethal dispersants that can be brought to bear to distract crowds from moving forward in an organized way. The protection that the trucks offer also allows the crews the time and security to make decisions while under protection and not in danger of immediate harm. Better decisions can be made under those conditions than when under extreme duress and danger.
There are a number of companies that fill the gap in crowed/riot control vehicle production. Each vehicle shares some similarities with the others, but each company also brings unique design features and capabilities to the table.
Jino Motors from the Republic of Korea (South Korea) has a strong relationship in Africa for its crowd/riot control vehicles counting among its 17 clients the governments of Chad, Ethiopia and Kenya.
“We divide our vehicle size by water tank capacity,” explained company spokesperson Luke Seo. “Normally, we produce trucks with 6,500 liters/9,000 liters/12,000 liters capacity, but we can modify the water tank size by customer request.”
It is always important to know and understand what the customer wants and what is their best solution. “We are proud that we can use the chassis that the customer wants to use,” said Seo. “For example, if a customer is familiar with Mercedes Benz, we will use Mercedes Benz chassis. If other customer wants a Man chassis, we will do so. We have a great deal of experience in using various truck and chassis types successfully including, as I mentioned Mercedes Benz, Hino from Japan or Tata Daewoo from Korea
Jino uses state-of-the-art 3D simulation programs to design each truck meaning basically each customer is getting their custom-designed riot control vehicles from experts in the field. “Of course, we always listen for customer feedback to make sure each vehicle is designed with their operational needs in mind,” said Seo.
Before Jino begins production of a design, they go through a series of mechanical tests and simulations to make sure that all of the systems will function as required which includes the chassis, pump(s), auxiliary engine, nozzles, electronics, and the driving and automotive controls. Jino is also very proud of its safety controls—one being to control the water pressure to make sure that it is not too strong. The obvious reasons for using a riot/crowd control vehicle is to hopefully deescalate a situation and water pressure that harms or even kills would do just the opposite. They are diligent to ensure that the water pressure is at the appropriate strength and always under the control of the operator.
The normal dispersant is water, however, they can include up to three tanks (100 liter and two 50 liter) for foam, tear gas and paint—again driven by customer expectations.
After the initial sale and delivery,
Jino makes sure that the customer is able to support and sustain their trucks. “We have experienced many customers with different request over 300 vehicles and 20 countries, said Seo. “By that I mean we have accumulated experience through field operations and are keenly aware of how best to maintain our trucks and make sure the customer can rely on the trucks being ready when called on.”
“For maintenance and parts we have a plan called Just in Time A/S meaning if a situation is important and there is a major problem, we will dispatch our engineers to fix the problem within 72 hours, explained Seo. “We also provide out customers with three years of the recommended service parts. This gives the customer some control over their program but builds on our knowledge and background.
While not overly complex, proper operation and employment of a crowd/riot control truck does take training. Jino Motors divides its supplier-provided training into two sections. The first takes place before delivery and, as the company describes it, covers everything from A to Z on the operation and maintenance of the vehicles. The second phase of the training takes place once the vehicle has been accepted by the customer. This phase is done by company engineers at the customer’s location and is “very intense.”
Soframe of France recently displayed their VID12000S intervention and dispersion vehicle at Eurosatory. There are four vehicles in the product line with two versions of the VID12000 (a European version and an export version) being the largest, followed by the VID7000 and then the VID5000. The number in each vehicle’s name denotes the amount of water carried (in liters).
“We build our trucks based on customer requirements,” explained Patrick Stutzmann, Soframe’s commercial director. “The automotive chassis and components are usually dictated by the customer. We can build on any suitable chassis. Our most recent vehicles were built on Mercedes chassis.” One of the obvious advantages of this is that for maintenance and spare parts on the automotive components can be harmonized with trucks that are more common locally.
“Unlike a firefighting vehicle, when the vehicle commander wants the water turned on, it needs to come on immediately,” said Stutzmann. “The same goes when he wants it off it needs to turn off immediately. When operating in a crowd, timing is everything.”
Over the years, Soframe has refined its designs to meet the demands of many customers including the French and Swiss police over the past 20 years.
In addition to water, all three VID vehicles can also carry foam, paint and gas deterrents such as tear gas and pepper spray.
The VID12000 series each operate with a crew of three and are equipped with two water cannons with a range of about 60 meters. The armored cab provide crew protection as well as important areas of the vehicle itself. Each truck is equipped with a self-protection system against incendiary devices.
The two smaller vehicles in the line are still crewed by three, but each has just one water cannon with the same 60 meter range.
ISBI makes one type of truck in two sizes, each replaces the original truck body with one made from Swedish-made armor plating. “The advantage of the hard skin is that it does not get damaged with stones,” said John Murphy with ISBI. “It will take years of punishment.”
Riot control vehicles are typically measured by the size of the water tank. ISBI’s first truck holds 7,500 liters with a larger vehicle holding 11,500 liters. “For the first we use a two axle truck and for the second a three axle truck,” explained Murphy. “I recommend the 11,500 liter because it holds a lot more water. The more water the better. And it does not cost that much more because both use the same pump, monitors, armor, etc.”
Range of the water is about 50 meters, with US-made pumps and controls.
ISBI likes using Kenworth or International chassis for the foundation of their vehicles, in part because each has a strong front axle. The company also likes them because they are engine-forward trucks which creates additional distance between the crowd and the crew—with those trucks that represents about three meters.
“Our vehicle is unique because it looks big and mean,” said Murphy. “For crowd control you need to create fear. Riot control trucks made in Korea and China are small and look flimsy. People do not see them as a threat. In this business you want to deter. It is best to avoid confrontation. If you see a huge truck coming at you, you run. If you see a small truck you wait and try to turn it over.”
ISBI describes its trucks as easy to use. Although they can carry a squad of soldiers or police, it is crewed by just two. Their trucks also only dispense water. “Water is plentiful and it is free,” Murphy noted. Agents sound great but they are not very practical. Tear gas (liquid) is effective but also very corrosive. Within a year the pump, lines and the whole body starts to rust. Paint is even worse. You have to flush it after every use. If not it dries in the lines and in the pump. Ask any painter what happens if they do not wash the paint gun with thinner after every use. Another big problem with paint is that if you do not use completely, it starts to dry in the tank. We made our system very simple to use and maintain. If you have a powerful pump like ours you need nothing more than water.”
Just passing its 30th anniversary, Katmerciler of Turkey has established itself as a provider of a large variety of commercial, construction and public service vehicles, firefighting trucks, and military and law enforcement vehicles—including crowd control vehicles.
With such a strong background in truck modification, Katmerciler is able to build crowd control vehicles based completely on a customer’s requirement taking into account what trucks are common in that particular country. This will certainly reduce the sustainment footprint, especially for the major automotive components.
“There are hundreds of varieties of riot control vehicles that we can create according to customer demands and requirements,” said company executive Furkan Katmerci. “Typically, we build trucks with a tank capacity between 1,500 and 10,000 liters.”
As for dispersants, it again is driven by customer needs. Most liquid and gas agents holding tanks can pump systems can be built into the trucks. In many cases both the pumps and monitoring systems are also made by Katmerciler.
“Some of our most prominent design elements are that our vehicles move quite fast, the high maneuverability of our water cannon and its action pace, the fact that our superstructure control software belongs completely to Katmerciler which gives us the ability to modify designs in a short time upon customers’ request,” said Katmerci
“In the light of our experiences, we have created an effective training plan for our anti-riot unit users,” explained Katmerci. “We take a two-step approach in our training application. The first step is theoretical in approach followed by a practical, hands-on training course in the use of the specific vehicles.” The training courses include understanding the chassis and automotive components, periodic maintenance requirements, operation and maintenance of the water pumps and auxiliary engine before moving to driver training, and operational use of the anti-riot devices and systems on each particular vehicles.
The company also offers a mobile, vehicle-mounted crowd control shield that can help protect law enforcement officers while creating a solid barrier that can be pushed towards a crowd strongly suggesting that they give ground.
The company is also no stranger to Africa. Although not specifically for crowd control vehicles, Katmerciler has delivered firefighting, recovery and other trucks to Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania and Tunisia.
For riot control situations, Streit Group offers the armored troop carrier; riot control vehicle; front barricade riot control vehicle; side barricade riot control vehicle; and lighting tower vehicle. “With the safety of the operating personnel being paramount, it means that crowd control personnel and their equipment must incorporate protection of all sorts, primarily to protect vehicles from hand-propelled objects like rocks and Molotov cocktails,” explained Guerman Goutorov, Streit Group chairman.
“We employ a wide range of leading, high-mobility chassis types across our range of vehicles. Our truck chassis types are Ford, Mercedes and Renault,” said Goutorov. “Our vehicles are subject to four categories of quality inspections from the time of chassis delivery to the completed vehicle.”
He further said that all of their riot control vehicles have a strong emphasis on non-lethal control methods in order to disperse protestors in as safe a manner as possible, including remotely-operated water cannons, tear gas duct systems, and foldable barriers to hold back crowds where necessary. Integrated surveillance cameras, night vision capabilities and roof monitors also increase visibility, allowing for safe maneuverability and better reactive capabilities for situations as they develop. The safety of vehicle occupants is also paramount, with features such as a fire suppression system helping to ensure impeccable survival rates.
The riot control vehicle is especially designed to provide a range of non-lethal options to disperse protestors in situations of civil unrest and violent protest. The vehicle is equipped with Akron roof-mounted cannons, a front cannon mounted on the cab and two lateral cannons for almost 360 degree protection, as well as full fire-fighting and anti-tamper piping both on top and under the unit. It is controlled completely digitally from the cabin and provides the user with access to water, foam, tear gas and paint at the touch of a screen. Units can also be fitted with a plough to allow blockades to be driven through. The unit is equipped with a movable hydraulic front barricade which can be used pre-emptively and tactically to block streets or can be linked with its sister side barricade unit to provide a greater width of protection and a movable door to allow troops to deploy through.
The company also has several other crowd control vehicle options. The front barricade riot control vehicle is specifically designed for effective obstruction of public passages and for crowd control, and is equipped with a state-of-the-art command control system that boasts surveillance cameras, night vision capabilities, roof monitors as well as a fire suppression system. The side barricade riot control vehicle is fitted with a fold out hydraulic deployable side barricade, extending past the ends of the unit, allowing it to be linked with both the front unit and other side barricade units.
Canadian Safety Solutions (CSS), a subsidiary of Streit Group, has constructed a state-of-the-art training facility in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. CSS’s defense and emergency training courses—more than 120 available—are designed to enhance the skill sets of agencies, including police, military units, special forces, private security, diplomatic missions and corporate clients.
“We believes that there are big opportunities for expansion in the African market, including airport security, air traffic control and much more,” said Goutorov.
Inkas Armored Vehicle Manufacturing
Doing business since 1996, Inkas produces a varied range of armored vehicles including luxury sedans and SUVs, cash in-transit trucks, military vehicles and crowd/riot control vehicles.
“Africa is one of the largest business directions for our company, explained David Khazanski, company CEO. “To ensure the highest level of aftersales support for our customers, our offices are located in Ghana and Nigeria. Furthermore, we invested a lot in local infrastructure and training staff development as well as growing of our stock of armored vehicles and spare details.”
“We offer a wide variety of riot control vehicles depending on the requirements of the customer,” Khazanski continued.
“By implementing innovative technologies Inkas Armored Vehicle Manufacturing is able to design and customize any type or size of riot control vehicle depending on the client’s needs and specific requests. For example, among others we offer a custom engineered Freightliner M2106 RVC riot control vehicle that demonstrates both super maneuverable and fully armored capacity. Based on the Cummins diesel engine 295 horsepower and a whopping 1,000 foot-pounds of torque, this fully armored riot control vehicle is a world-class crowd dispersal tool.” While describing the Freightliner-based vehicle, he also pointed out that they work on other chassis based on customer requirements.
The Inkas armored riot control vehicle is equipped with high pressure water pumps with regulated nozzle pressure, chemical additive tanks, a fire extinguishing system, adjustable-height ram-bumper to clear heavier obstacles and surveillance equipment with recording capability, makes this riot control vehicle very versatile. Providing protection for the crew, Inkas has fully armored this vehicle to withstand multiple high velocity rounds as well as shrapnel from detonations.
A wide variety of agents can be dispersed, including water, foam, paint, tear gas, etc. The technical specifications for the exact vehicle depend on the customer’s requirements.
“We possess the resources to offer a high level of post-sale services for our clients, said Khazanski. “We believe that it is our duty to educate our customers on the proper and the most effective usage of their armored vehicles in order to use them to their full potential and maximize the added value.“
Beit-Alfa Technologies—BAT—of Israel has been building special purpose vehicles since 1966 and currently manufactures a range of crowd control trucks utilizing automotive components from a number of manufacturers. Their trucks feature their computer-controlled jet pulse system for accurate firing in either short or long pulse or as a continuous stream. Their trucks can also be fitted with acoustic devices and tube-launched non-lethal munitions.
Alpine Armoring, Chantilly, Va., is a manufacturer of armored vehicles ranging from sedans, SUVs, up to riot control trucks and is a contractor to the US Department of Defense. They produce a range of riot control trucks in the RCT series (1, 2, 3 and 4). The company’s website lists Ford and International as base chassis for their trucks. Each truck is equipped with protection systems for the truck and its occupants and systems to assist in controlling and moving crowds with various dispersant systems.
A variant of their ZFB05 armored vehicle, China’s Shanxi Baoji Special Vehicles Manufacturing offers the CQF08 riot dispersal vehicle. One of the smaller riot control trucks it offers dual dispersant cannons mounted on the roof of the fully armored vehicle. It also has tube launchers for crowd control grenades.