Allegations of police using excessive force have made headlines across the country following the death of George Floyd last year.
Many police departments have begun to reevaluate policies and tactics when dealing with suspects, and WRAP Technology in Tempe has developed a new tool that it says will keep officers and citizens safe in their encounters.
It sounds like a gun, but it may just be the tool that prevents officers from needing to use them. It’s called a Bola Wrap and is based on the Argentinian bolero, a type of lasso.
“It shoots at an eight-foot Kevlar tether that wraps around the suspect and then it restrains them so it can be used very early in a confrontation before it escalates and requires a higher level of force,” explained Tom Smith, president of WRAP Technologies.
Smith said that some officers would rather use it initially instead of handcuffs.
“The reason is you’re able to stay 10 feet away from the subject and not have to be right up next to him.”
Using this piece of technology is super easy, it’s as simple as attaching the cartridge, turning the safety off, hitting the activation button and deploying.
“You won’t see it, it happens in the blink of an eye, then all of a sudden, it’s wrapped around you and you just have this cord and your mobile is restrained and can’t move,” Smith said.
The number of agencies using the technology has more than doubled since last September. It’s now being used by more than 500 law enforcement agencies nationwide.
“We’ve been getting a lot more uses in the field and a lot more body cams we’ve been able to share. So it’s not just here’s demos and here’s what we think it’s going to do. It’s body cams from around the country and different agencies who have been using it,” said Smith. “Here locally, we have Avondale is already using it we’re going to be doing a demo shortly with Apache Junction.”
Tempe Police used the Bola Wrap during the May 28 arrest of a man they said was walking in and out of traffic and appeared to be in crisis.
Along with Tempe police, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Avondale, Glendale, Goodyear, Lake Havasu, La Paz, Maricopa, and Sahuarita police departments also use Bola Wraps.
The Avondale Police Department has 11 total Bola Wraps and officers there have been using them since May. The department said that they are pleased with it and see it as another option to de-escalate situations.
Last September former police chief and now law enforcement consultant Stanley Kephart said that the tool has a purpose in de-escalations.
“I do see this as growing, I do see its acceptance, especially in the area of riots and the things that we’re seeing now,” said Kephart.
Kephart added that while this tool is beneficial, it should not replace other training.
“We do not have a panacea here with this tool or with any other tool for that matter. It is appropriate and proper for the officers to, based on their training, select the appropriate tool for the appropriate circumstance and then use that tool tactically to their advantage.”
Smith said the technology was invented about four years ago, in a time where police and community tensions were growing. He added that this could save lives.
“Police are looking for other ways to do their jobs safely and effectively, not just for themselves but for their communities,” Smith said.
Click here to learn more about the Bola Wrap.