LOGAN — Officers with the Logan City Police Department are beginning to use a new restraining device that looks like something out of a Batman comic book. The department recently purchased four BolaWraps, a handheld device that shoots a small grappling-hook tether, 350 mph up to 25 feet away.
Logan City Police Patrol Lt. Bret Randall said the department recently began training officers on how to use the high-tech lasso system. It is intended for situations when an individual needs to be detained without causing injury like tazing could.
“It uses a firearm cartridge, a blank basically,” explained Randall. “The cartridge propels a Kevlar rope that is very strong and has fish hooks on each end. The string wraps around whatever you shoot it at, your arms, torso or legs. It wraps around and then hooks into the clothing, so you can’t go anywhere.”
The grappling-hook device is equipped with a laser sight and can be discharged in seconds. It can wrap around a person’s arms so they can’t resist officers, or around the legs, so the individual can’t run or walk.
Randall said the Bolawraps were purchased partly due to an increase in mental illness calls the department is seeing. Many of the incidents are more of a “community care taker scenario” for police rather than a criminal act.
“Being mentally ill is not a crime, but people don’t know how to deal with other people who are mentally ill, so they call the police. The courts have ruled that police really can’t use force against the mentally ill because they are not committing a crime. The use of force has to be proportionate with the crime being committed. In this case, there is no crime being committed or we just want to use very minimal force to get them to some type of professional care.”
The department began training officers on how to use the BolaWrap last week. It included learning to shoot the tethers and also experiencing what it was like to be shot at.
Randall was one of the trainees. He said the sound of the .30 caliber round going off, combined with the restraining capability, makes the new device very effective for non-lethal take-downs.
“In most cases it will take someone out of a fight mode and put them into flight mode, without them consciously making that decision. Just for that brief three or four seconds, it gives the officers the advantage psychologically to take the individual from that fight mind, where they want to fight the world, to a flight mind, where it may not necessarily be running but it may be giving up.”
Police hope the BolaWraps can also be used during colder months, when tazers are less effective because of thick winter clothing. The plan is to add more devices as the funds become available.