ALCOA, Tenn. (WATE) — Alcoa police officers now have a new tool that could make their job safer. It’s called a BolaWrap and it works by immobilizing a suspect’s arms or legs. Police say it can help in de-escalation efforts.
Police Chief David Carswell said this changes the ballgame because everything they’ve had up to this point requires some kind of pain compliance in order to get someone safely under control. The BolaWrap, he said, does not.
“It deploys approximately an 8-foot Kevlar cord that’s weighted on each end with small hooks so that whenever it hits the target, the momentum of the weights causes the cord to wrap around the arms or legs, and that will immobilize somebody,” Carswell said.
You can hear a loud bang when it’s activated, but the only thing leaving the device itself is the cord. It deploys quickly – about as fast as a Major League baseball player’s fastball.
“It just gives the officers another tool they’ve not had that they can use to maybe deescalate a situation that doesn’t rise to the level of a taser use, or a baton use, or a handgun use,” said Carswell.
Instead, it could be used when officers respond to a call of someone suffering from a mental illness, or to a person under the influence.
“We have seen over the years where we’re responding to more and more emotionally distressed calls. It could be induced by alcohol. It’s also coincided with the opioid epidemic. It’s just a whole new level and frequency of calls that we’re responding to,” said Carswell.
The chief added this tool isn’t meant for violent suspects, just people who are unarmed but non-compliant with an officer’s commands, to make sure both they and police stay safe.
“I think we’re just one of several agencies that are coming on board with this device. Seeing its value. Seeing its place. How it can make the job safer for the officers. How it can make the citizens safer so that the officers don’t have to resort to higher levels of force,” Carswell said. “The bottom line to this is we want safety for everybody. We especially don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”
Alcoa Police started issuing the BolaWrap to officers on Sunday. They have more than 20, which is enough to put one in the hands of every patrol officer.