WATCH VIDEO: Local police department to use new tether-firing device

West Carrollton police officers demonstrate the BolaWrap, which can safely and humanely restrain resisting subjects from a distance, the company says.

The BolaWrap is designed to restrain non-compliant subjects

WEST CARROLLTON — The law enforcement profession is constantly searching for new, less-lethal force options that can be used to de-escalate encounters and get people under control while causing them the least amount of harm.

Now, a Dayton area police department is using one of the newest high-tech devices designed to do that.

The new BolaWrap used by West Carrollton Police Department is patterned after bolas, an old-fashioned throwing weapon previously used to capture cattle. The device discharges an eight-foot bola-style Kevlar tether at 640 feet per second to entangle a subject at a range of 10 to 25 feet, according to the company.

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The handheld device helps to create a safe space between the officer and a non-compliant subject who needs to be detained, but who might not be responding to verbal commands, said West Carrollton police Chief Doug Woodard.

“The BolaWrap is a new, less-lethal tool at our disposal, that may allow us to gain control of someone without having to escalate the amount of force to a level that could increase the probability of injury to the subject or to our officers,” Woodard said.

The BolaWrap device shoots out an eight foot rope with hooks that can wrap around either a suspect's legs or shoulders to detain them. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Designed to be deployed early in an encounter to slow down suspects safely and painlessly, the device can be deployed in a range of specific situations. That includes dealing with emotionally disturbed persons; passively resistant and non-compliant subjects; mildly aggressive, non-compliant subjects; mentally ill subjects; suicidal subjects/persons in crisis; and subjects under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, he said.

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“When someone is actively fighting us, actively resisting arrest, this is not the tool to use for those situations,” Woodard said. “When someone is passive or when you have somebody who might be suffering from some kind of mental illness or mental impairment.”

On the market since early last year, West Carrollton Police Department is the first in the area to use BolaWrap, he said. It demonstrated the device for regional and county law enforcement a few months ago and rolled out two of the devices last month for use by supervisors and officers in charge, Woodard said.

Powered by a partially charged .380 blank, the device emits a loud bang similar to a gunshot but slightly less ear-splitting. Once it’s deployed, police have a certain amount of time to get a subject under control and handcuff them before they can break free.

Woodward said he understands BolaWrap is event-specific and not appropriate for use in every situation.

“It’s just another tool for us to use,” he said. “It’s not a panacea, it doesn’t solve all our problems. However, it’s our hope that this tool will allow us to gain control of individuals while causing them minimal injury so we can bring the situation to a positive conclusion."

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The BolaWrap device shoots out an eight foot rope with hooks that can wrap around either a suspect's legs or shoulders to detain them. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

To deploy the BolaWrap, an officer loads a cartridge and the safety is turned to the off position, which automatically illuminates a green line laser for accuracy, Woodard said. The officer then presses the activation button to deploy the tether.

Provided free to the department for its evaluation, each BolaWrap device typically retails for $1,000 each, which is about the cost of a Taser, he said. Each cartridge costs approximately $30.

“It’s not cheap but it’s much cheaper than an injury to somebody or to an officer,” Woodard said.

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Over the next six months to a year, West Carrollton Police Department will evaluate the frequency of the device’s use and determine if more units are necessary, he said.

The BolaWrap device shoots out an eight foot rope with hooks that can wrap around either a suspect's legs or shoulders to detain them. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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