WELLSTON, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma police department is putting a new spin on catching criminals, becoming the first in the state to start using what’s known as a BolaWrap.
The device can be looked at as an alternative to a Taser.
The Wellston Police Department in Lincoln County explained their BolaWrap 100s shoot an eight-foot Kevlar cord with hooks on the end to wrap up and restrain non-compliant individuals.
“Between a Taser and a BolaWrap, the BolaWrap is safer for our officers and for the folks we might have to deploy it on,” said Assistant Police Chief Todd Beesley.
Their officers shoot the cord from about 15 to 20 feet away, aiming for above the ankles, around the knees or or around their arms/chest. Once the cord hits the subject, the two hooks wrap and clip them.
They’ve trained their officers in the springtime and have already deployed the devices twice.
“The two deployments were during agency assist calls with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol on the Turner Turnpike, and the other was with Lincoln and Oklahoma County Sheriff`s Offices near Luther,” Beesley said.
Beesley said both cases went without injuries, though the devices can run a low risk.
“Of course if they’re running and we deploy, you know, there’s always that risk that they will trip and fall,” the assistant chief said. “It may pull and hook into their skin, but it doesn’t go in very far, not as far as a taser would.”
While it’s a quick decision for an officer to choose between a taser and a BolaWrap, they’ll often choose the BolaWrap.
“[Because of] the lack of electricity,” Beesely said. “It restrains them in enough time that you can do what you need to do, before it escalates into a combative situation, and it minimizes that risk to both the officer and the person that you’re dealing with.”
Wellston Police said they’re committing to avoiding lethal force at all costs.
“Personally, the last thing that I want to have to do is use force to where somebody may be hurt or killed,” Beesley said. “If I’m not put in that situation and I have the option to use a BolaWrap, that’s definitely the path I would choose to go. Unfortunately, in the world today, there’s going to be times when that’s not going to be enough, but in those cases where we can use that tool, it’s definitely a better choice.”
Wellston Police purchased four BolaWraps for about $1,000 per device. Each active officer always has one on them.