5 things to know about the BolaWrap
This device is designed to give police officers a less-lethal option that isn't based on pain compliance
By Police1 Staff
It may look like something out of a Batman comic, but the BolaWrap is a less-lethal device getting attention from police agencies as a potential new tool in the spectrum of use-of-force options.
Here are five things to know about the BolaWrap.
1. What is the BolaWrap?
Described by the company as “remote handcuffs,” Wrap Technologies’ BolaWrap is a handheld restraint tool that fires a lasso-like, 8-foot Kevlar tether with hooks on each end that wraps around a subject’s arms or legs, preventing them from fleeing, punching or kicking. The BolaWrap has a range of 10 to 25 feet and fires the cord at 513 feet per second. The tether is fired from a cartridge, which can be reloaded. The device uses a green laser sight line to assist the officer with aiming.
The multiple-use product costs around $1,000 per unit including cartridges and accessories. The BolaWrap went to market in 2018, according to the Washington Post, but saw interest notably increase after last summer’s widespread protests following the in-custody death of George Floyd.
2. How does the BolaWrap work?
According to the company, the BolaWrap is primarily intended for subjects in a mental health crisis or on drugs who are unreceptive to commands as a way to de-escalate the situation. The company does not view the product as an option for more violent encounters, like a combative subject or someone armed with a gun, or as a tool for larger incidents such as riots.
“Mental health is really what started the company,” CEO Tom Smith told the Washington Post, adding that the product was designed with the goal of creating a new less-lethal option that did not function based on “pain compliance.”
The device requires a surrounding distance of 2 to 4 feet in order to properly deploy.
3. How many police agencies are using the BolaWrap?
The technology is currently being carried in 430 U.S. agencies and 36 countries, according to the company. Perhaps the highest-profile agency that has tested the device is the LAPD, which found during a pilot program that the BolaWrap was considered “effective” in six of the nine total times it was fired.
“Even though some of the deployments were not a full wrap, it stopped the individuals’ actions, which we considered effective,” Deputy Chief Martin Beaza said, according to a report by the Los Angeles Daily News.
4. How have cops successfully deployed the BolaWrap in the field?
Among the real-world incidents, it has been used during mental health calls, on a man with a knife, and during a hostage standoff. Some of these successful deployments have been captured on video, which you can find below:
5. Try the BolaWrap before you buy.
Departments considering the BolaWrap should ask for an on-site demo and conduct a trial period. During the trial period, make sure officers have training on when to use the device and how to use the device, including after the subject is secured in the device. During the trial period consider demonstrating the device’s use to the local media, city council or county board, and community activists. Like any new less-lethal tool it is important to have broad internal support from patrol officers as well as external awareness from law enforcement stakeholders. The LaGrange Police Department last year demoed the device to city council members by using it on the city’s mayor, as well as on a corporal who had used it in the field.
According to the LaGrange Daily News, LPD Chief and former IACP President Lou Dekmar told city staff that having multiple less lethal options was vital to public safety.
“It is a critical task, and one that we’ve always got to be prepared for, despite the fact that it does rarely occur, but prepared in such a way that we’re able to avoid serious injury to the individual that we’re taking into custody,” Dekmar said.
What do you think of the BolaWrap technology? Is your agency using or piloting the BolaWrap? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts.