Sep 28, 2023 - News

Device allows cops to restrain people from a distance

This gif was created using a clip of a video demonstrating Bolawrap. Credit: Wrap Technologies

One metro Atlanta police agency is using a less lethal method of restraining people during incidents.

Driving the news: The Cobb County Sheriff's Office is the latest department to roll out the use of BolaWrap, a remote restraint system that shoots out a cord that wraps around a person's body.

Why it matters: Like license plate readers or drones, BolaWrap is another example of how technology is changing the way police respond to calls of service, as well as how they investigate crime.

How it works: With the push of a button, BolaWrap will quickly eject a Kevlar cord that will encase around a person's legs or arms within a range of 10 to 25 feet.

  • Kevin Mullins, CEO of Wrap Technologies, which makes BolaWrap, tells Axios that the cord measures seven and a half feet and includes small hooks on the end that can attach to a person's clothing.
  • He says the cords don't hurt but have a "surprise factor to it" that can momentarily distract the person being wrapped.

State of play: The deputies spent the summer training how to properly use BolaWrap, and the devices are now in use at the Adult Detention Center.

  • Deputies who are assigned to the agency's Field Operations unit, which includes the Cobb County Courthouse, also have them.
  • The price tag for the Sheriff's Office is $60,173.85, spokesperson Sgt. Jeremy Blake tells Axios.

What they're saying: Sheriff Craig Owens told reporters during a press conference earlier this month that his department is embracing "cutting edge" technology like BolaWrap to "minimize harm, foster trust, and to ensure the safety of our residents of Cobb County and the safety of our dedicated deputies."

  • "We're not just adopting this tool," the sheriff said. "This is part of our philosophy, a philosophy that prioritizes de-escalation, compassion and the well-being of all individuals involved."

Yes, but: Owens said BolaWrap won't be useful in all situations, such as when someone is armed with a knife or a gun.

  • "They are trained on when to use this device and when not to use the device, and they know even with a knife, this is not a perfect device to use," Owens said of his deputies.

Rather, Mullins says, BolaWrap is intended to prevent situations escalating to where officers use force like tasers or firearms, such as when they respond to calls about people in mental health crises.

  • "It's 2023, and we as a society can do better than just hurting people," he tells Axios. "And that's the goal of the technology."

Of note: Wrap Technologies says more than 1,000 police departments across the U.S. and officials in 60 countries use BolaWrap.


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